FT. LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Both the school board the Sheriff’s Office in Broward County are stepping up efforts to stop bullying.
Those efforts include a movie, with a message, that premiered Monday night in Fort Lauderdale.
In a crowded theatre at Cinema Paradiso, dozens watch a film about the first gay student to successfully sue a school district for not doing enough to protect him from bullies.
The film is called, “Bullied.” The Broward Sheriff’s Office is the only law enforcement agency in the country to help fund the film.
Parent Dana Cahn brought her children to watch.
“I just want them to be aware of what’s going on in some schools. Hopefully not their school, but if it was to happen that they would be proactive against it,” said Cahn.
Her kids are now understanding what a bully is.
“Like they call you names and they like hurt you and all that,” said 6-year-old Jackson.
“And does mean stuff to everyone and to you,” said 8-year-old Josie.
That’s exactly why Broward school board member Katie Leach wants to form the first anti-bullying committee at the school board.
“We’ve got one for our facilities, which is an important topic, we’ve got one for diversity, which is an important topic, but I think anti-bullying is something that is probably one of the issues of our generation,” said Leach.
How bad is bullying in South Florida? Just look at Josie Lou Ratley, who last year was severely beaten at her Deerfield Beach school. Then there’s Michael Brewer. Bullies lit 65 percent of his body on fire in 2009.
“The key to anti-bullying is spreading the word that its unacceptable in Broward, said Richard Wierzbicki, who heads up BSO’s Hate Crimes Task Force.
“Cause as we talk about things, it comes out in the open, and that’s the best way to solve a problem,” said Leach.
The school board’s anti-bullying committee is still in its early stages.
What should you do if you don’t know where else to turn to report bullying? Law enforcement officers urge you to contact them directly.