This week’s episode of Full Frame shines a light on celebrities, community leaders, and artists alike who are seeking to eliminate bullying, one hateful word at a time.
According to recent studies, almost half of the students in grades 4 through 12 have been bullied in the past month. It’s a shocking number, especially since much of this verbal, physical, and cyberbullying goes undetected by educators and parents.
Tune into Full Frame on CCTV America at 7:00 PM EDT on Saturday, May 16, 2015. Or watch the live stream of the program here at www.cctvamericalive.com
RJ Mitte: Pity the bully
Life did not begin easily for RJ Mitte. When he was 3 years old, the now famous actor was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a physical disorder that often affects the brain. His feet were placed in casts as he learned to walk with straightened feet, and he spent much of his childhood using crutches.
Mitte didn’t let leg braces – or much else – slow him down. In 2008, at the age of 14, Mitte was offered the role of Walter White Jr. in the smash-hit TV show, Breaking Bad. He immediately found a home playing Walter White’s breakfast-loving son, who also had cerebral palsy, and he soon leapt into other entertainment related endeavors like modeling and producing. Becoming an actor not only realized a longtime dream for Mitte, it also provided him with the opportunity to raise awareness about disabled actors in Hollywood.
Over the years, Mitte has become involved in many awareness building groups, such as United Cerebral Palsy and the Screen Actors Guild union for Performers with Disabilities. Most recently, he became the celebrity face for Shriner’s Hospital #CutTheBull campaign. As a victim of bullying himself, Mitte is dedicated to helping other people with disabilities feel accepted and loved by their peers.
RJ sits down with Mike Walter to talk about his growth as an actor, and how he uses his life in the public eye to raise awareness for a cause that hits close to home.
Finding Kind: Girl-on-girl hate
On the surface, Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson do not look like they were once the victims of bullying; both filmmakers and activists are not only accomplished, but they also appear to be confident and well-spoken change-makers. As teens, however, both were also the victims of cruel and unnecessary girl versus girl harassment. Whether it was being outcast because of boy-related rumors or just inexplicable female jealousy, both women felt insecure and uncomfortable around their peers.
Sadly, their story is not uncommon amongst young girls and teens. When Paul and Thompson met as undergraduates at Pepperdine University and discovered their shared experiences, they decided that something needed to change. Today, the two have made it their mission to spread the message of kindness amongst young girls. From 2009-2013, Paul and Thompson crisscrossed the nation in a minivan and spoke at over 450 schools about bullying, and what girls can do to promote kindness amongst their peers.
Their movement, the Kind Campaign, has resulted in one highly-acclaimed documentary film, four national tours, and an education on the impact of actions and words for young girls around the country.
Full Frame host Mike Walters sits down with Paul and Thompson to learn more about what drives their movement and the changes they have witnessed along the way.
Correspondent Package: Daniel Mendez and Cool to be Kind
On the surface, it seemed like high school student Daniel Mendez was doing well. He was handsome, caring, on the football team, and his report card rarely showed a grade lower than an A.
Despite Daniel’s many accomplishments, he was bullied for much of his adolescence. His parents, Anna and Danny, believe that the devastating name-calling and physical abuse was at its worst when Daniel was a freshman on the football team. When he was 16, he decided it wasn’t worth it anymore. Teenager Daniel Mendez was bullied so relentlessly that he felt the only option was to take his own life.
While the tragedy surrounding Daniel’s death is great, the Mendez family says that Daniel did not die in vain. After his suicide, students at his high school started the “Cool to be Kind,” campaign, which has now expanded to 15 chapters across the country.
His parents also started the National Association of People Against Bullying, which offers physical and emotional support for the victims of bullying and their families.
While Daniel is no longer present to stand up to bullies, his parents and supporters are helping his legacy survive by fighting in his memory.
Full Frame contributor Sandra Hughes brings us the story from San Clemente, California.
Full Frame Panel: Cyberbullying 101
For this week’s panel, we are joined by two women who have witnessed the effects of bullying online in two very different ways. Dr. Jaana Juvonen is a professor at UCLA who specializes in developmental psychology. Dr. Juvonen has extensively studied relationships amongst young bullies and their victims, and seeks to understand how peer cruelty affects both the perpetrators and their victims. She has co-authored many books on bullying, including her most recent study, Peer Harassment in School: The Plight of the Vulnerable and Victimized.
Tina Meier is a mother from Missouri. In 2006, her eldest daughter, Megan, was just weeks away from turning 14 when she took her own life after being relentlessly bullied online. In a shocking revelation several weeks after Megan’s death, the Meiers discovered that it was not another teen that was bullying Megan; it was a classmate’s mother, disguised by the internet as a teen boy. Although Meier considered herself highly aware of her daughter’s online activity, after Megan’s tragic suicide, she realized that her community needed to become more educated about the risks of abuse in the cyber-sphere.
Juvonen’s studies have found that not only are young internet users more likely to share private information with their peers online, but they are also highly unlikely to tell their parents if any unfriendly transgressions have occurred for fear of getting their internet privileges revoked. After experiencing these unfortunate realities firsthand, Meier created the Megan Meier Foundation in order to educate students and their parents about the dangers of cyberbullying.
In 2007 alone, almost 1/3 of teen internet users said they experienced some form of cyber harassment, with aggressions ranging from cruel text messages to nasty online rumors and private pictures being made public. Both panelists agree that in order to bring this percentage down, educators and policy makers must make an effort to increase awareness of cyberbullying’s effects.
Dr. Juvonen and Tina Meier sit down with Mike to discuss how our internet focused society can make the web a safer place for young users.
Follow the Megan Meier Foundation on Twitter: @MeganMeierFnDn
Artist Timothy Hyunsoo Lee doesn’t want you to feel his pain. Through his work, however, he does want you to briefly engage in his reality.
The Seoul-born, New York-raised artist struggled greatly with his identity growing up. His American peers thought him too Korean, his Korean peers thought him too American. This cultural discordance led to a youth filled with anxiety and panic attacks. Although these struggles never left him, as a neuroscience student at Wesleyan University, Lee found that he was able to channel his experiences into works of art. He has since translated his scientific background and his emotional struggles into complex and labor intensive masterpieces.
Lee primarily uses watercolor for its unforgiving permanence. With brushes, ink and paper, he creates stunning visual works that relate to identity, uncertainty, and perception. His translations of emotion have gotten him far; in 2014, he won the VSA Award for Best Emerging Artist, an award given to notable young artists with disabilities.
This week, Full Frame turns its Close Up lens on Lee and his quest to redefine identity through art.
Follow Lee on Twitter: @timmyhlee