August 12, 2012
REPORTER: Ross Coulthart
PRODUCERS: Alex Hodgkinson, Erin Reimer
“I suck at introductions, and I don’t know where to start. My name is Liv, and I guess I look like your normal happy teenager...”
So began a video blog post from late Rowville teenager Olivia Penpraze. The 19-year-old had been a victim of bullying for almost half her life, and the mental effects were taking their toll. As the video went on, the young woman held up cards detailing her constant battle against dark thoughts of suicide.
Olivia’s father Warren estimated around 15,000 people had watched that video between the time it was posted in January this year and her May 3 death. In that time, no-one contacted her parents to alert them to the video’s existence. Some internet ‘trolls’ even posted comments, goading Olivia into killing herself.
Cyberbullying is a relatively new phenomenon, but a new US documentary, Bully, by director Lee
Hirsch looks at the more established scourge of physical bullying – in the schoolyard, on the bus, and anywhere else the perpetrator can get away with it.
Sunday Night’s Ross Coulthart met with one of the subjects of the documentary, Alex Libby, who was subjected to merciless physical bullying that started on the school bus each morning and continued through the day.
“I went home almost every day feeling depressed and looking depressed,” he said.
His mother Jackie said she had no idea of the abuse her son was enduring.
“Certain teachers there knew – one teacher even told him to put his head down and go to sleep after he’d been assaulted in gym class,” she said.
In one shocking scene from the film, Jackie visited a teacher at Alex’s school and detailed the danger her son was in, only to be met with a muted response.
“Buses are notoriously bad places for lots of kids. I wish I could tell you I can make it stop, but I’m not gonna lie to you – I can’t,” the teacher shrugged.
“I went there looking for help, and I was pretty much told that I was nuts, and could I please exit her office,” Jackie said.
“If you say there’s nothing we can do, you give them a whole lot of power. I mean, they’re children – it’s our job to mould them into who they’re going to be.”
Info: Roadshow Films will release [http://bully-movie.net/# Bully] nationally on August 23.
Lifeline Australia - 13 11 14
Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800
Kids Helpline is Australia's only free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.
beyondblue: the national depression initiative 1300 22 4636
CONTACT SUNDAY NIGHT