How a New Television Show Fights Bullying by Educating, not Entertaining
As a criminal justice major who intends to make a career out of helping victims—and perpetrators—reestablish their lives and get the help they need, I am a huge advocate of raising awareness about the serious
issue crime that is bullying.
I got to chat with "Cyber Bullied" producer J.D. Cannon about this inspiring new project and learn more about how it will all work.
As a series, "Cyber Bullied" aims to interrupt bullying by “providing real solutions for the victims by giving them a voice, by confronting the bullies, and by getting the silent majority to get into action and do something.” Each episode will intervene in a different extreme bullying story and try to create a real solution.
The goal is education.
What people seem to ignore about bullying is that in many instances the situation ends tragically—with either the victim taking his or her life or the bully taking his or her behavior to an even higher extreme.
In the pilot episode, Travis and Skylar learn about a situation in which two identical twin sisters were being severely bullied. Not being able to take the constant victimization, one of the twins tragically ended her life a year ago. Now, the family is left in turmoil because they have no answers and no one was made accountable for what happened to their daughter. With the help of Travis and Skylar, the family will seek to find out why the police did not investigate the situation that led to the girl's death, hoping to be provided with answers and closure.
The two main elements the show examines are helping the victims return to a normal life and questioning the bully's parents, the school, and the local police as to why they have not created an intervention solution.
In an effort to aid the victims return to a happy, healthy life, the show carefully sought two hosts who would perfectly complement this role. At a glance, Travis and Skylar may just come off as social media personalities; however, the pair is a perfect example of what future survivors of bullying may look like.
Just finishing high school, Skylar is making a name for herself in the entertainment industry. Not too long ago, though, she found herself in a situation where she had to leave school because of the cruel bullying she was facing. Because she's still evolving out of that mindset, she can aid others in overcoming their tormentors. Travis, too, is making waves in the industry and is no stranger to bullying either. In high school, he was threatened verbally and physically. He knows what it feels like to be bullied and how to escape the constraints bullies place on their victims.
Because both of these hosts have experienced the trauma of severe bullying, they can understand and relate to the victims they aim to help. They are examples that overcoming your bullies is possible and that you will be stronger for it.
One of the most refreshing parts of this show is that it seeks not only to help the victims, but to help the bullies as well. Cannon says, "Not all bullies are inherently evil. Damaged people that have issues of their own don't know how to project it, so they project it onto someone else." Part of the process in helping all involved is to "offer solutions to [the bullies] as well so they understand the gravity of what they've done and so they don't continue the cycle." The show is "not just about making [the bullies] look bad."
A goal of the show is to make viewers realize that "to relentlessly drive someone to make them feel like they need to take their own life, that's a crime." By starting this conversation, the show's creators hope to make schools, the police, and politicians start to approach bullying as the crime that it is, instead of just dismissing it as kids just being kids. Says Cannon, "When kids are being kids, people don't end up dying."
This show is different because it is not for entertainment value—it is for education and outreach. The one thing Cannon and his team didn't want to do was to add trauma to victims and their families. Both the victims and the bullies work with counselors and psychologists during and after filming, so that they can heal and move forward. The most important part of the process, says Cannon, is to "make sure [everyone] heals and reclaims their lives."
Be sure to look out for the show's premiere in 2016 on a yet-to-be determined major U.S. network.
If you are currently experiencing a bullying situation please know that there is help and that that you are deserving of it. To be considered for the show click here and tell the producers about yourself and your story. They are eager to help as many people as they can and want you to reach out.
If you need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
Mia is studying criminal justice. Mia is obsessed with the classics and is always saying people need more Gatsby and Huck Finn in their life - not to mention anything John Hughes. She also spends her time as a staff writer for HackCollege.com. You can follow her on Instagram at @myohhmiaa.