NORMAL — A Twin City organization that promotes teaching social skills to kids is providing a new resource to reduce bullying.

The Peaceful Schools Committee is donating 15 kits, based on the award-winning documentary “Bully,” to McLean County schools and organizations.

“What this movie does in spades is teach empathy,” said Barbara Stuart, founder and co-chairwoman of the committee, initially formed as part of McLean County Community Compact.

Filmmaker Lee Hirsh shows how bullying occurs in daily lives of students and the impact it has on families.

“I know it happens. It happened with my own son,” Stuart said.

The kit includes two versions of the film (one for older students and one for younger kids), teaching cards and a guide book with follow-up activities.

“We’re not saying that schools aren’t doing enough,” said committee co-chairwoman Cory Tello, explaining the kit is another resource for school lessons that includes sensitivity to cultures and mental and physical disabilities.

“This (the issue of bullying) is not just for schools to deal with — it’s for parents, families, the community,” said Tello.

The kits will go to Twin City public libraries, the juvenile court system, Tri-County Special Education Association that serves which serves about 15 rural schools in the area, the four Twin City public junior high schools, two public high schools and Epiphany Catholic School. A “floater” kit will be available as needed, said Tello.

“It’s a really nice gift,” said principal Dan Lamboley of Parkside Junior High School in Normal, who has a team planning activities tied to the kit.  “This is a really powerful thing.”

The Peaceful Schools Committee previously provided a free program, called Second Step, to help kindergartners learn empathy, anger management and problem-solving skills. It benefited 95 classrooms in three counties.

The committee relies on donations to help buy the kits. Second Step costs about $300; “Bully” kits are $40 each.

“We have to start early, even in preschool,” said committee member Linda Smith, who works for the Child Care Resource and Referral Network.

The 2012 Illinois Youth Survey reported that 49 percent of sixth graders were called names; 22 percent were threatened, kicked or pushed; and 24 percent were cyber-bullied within the last 12 months.

The survey also showed that by 12th grade, physical bullying dropped to 7 percent and cyber bullying down to 19 percent.

The “Bully” kit addresses cyber-bullying.

“When you don’t put a face to it, it’s easier to bully,” noted principal Lynette Mehall of Kingsley Junior High School in Normal.

Schools in both Twin City districts already use a system that uses similar principles. A program Mehall used last year taught students to “stop, walk and talk” — tell the bully to stop, walk away and talk to an adult.

“It’s not just discipline, it’s instruction,” she said. “It has to be an ongoing effort. It’s not use one and done.”

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(7) comments


Thank you to the Pantagraph on such a nice article on such an important issue! I have looked at the kits and they are great. The kits will serve as a wonderful resource for the schools and the community., If you are interested in seeing what this movie is all about, remember they are available at Normal/Bloomington Public Libraries.


One of the unaddressed issues with bullying, is this is often learned at home as parents without parental skills bully children instead of using proper discipline and guidance. Of course we should all know from our youth that the flaw in stop-walk-talk is the bully will step in front and the threat is so great to a child they are scared to talk. Of course the other complication of dealing with bullying is that the adults bully the perpetrator with threats of penalty. So it is good to work on it but discouraging that each generation starts over and we will never be done.


An extremely important and urgent issue. Am so glad to see dialogue about it. And ACTION.


Another problem is that most parents are delusional when it come to dealing with bullies and they often have no idea what bullying actually is. Parents have trained their kids to believe that they are always the victim and parents will never admit when their child is being a bully when in fact, many many kids have been bullies as well as the victim of bullying.


Our society encourages bullying by our very attitudes. TV tells us there is something wrong with anyone who doesn't fit the ideal physical appearance. Talk shows harp on how inadequate, unhappy and a worthless we should feel if we don't fit the mold Dr. Oz and Phil say is perfect. TV commercials tell us we must have the latest, most expensive clothes or other electronic gadget or vehicle. Children who excel in their studies are portrayed and nerds and unpopular. Advertisers pit us all against each other as unpaid spokespersons to sell their product. Web sites ridicule people who are fat or poor. Then we wonder why our kids bully each other. Their parents buy into this program and follow right along. Their behavior and attitudes tell their kids it is okay. As human animals we possess natural instinct to ostracize those who are different. That instinct is manipulated to sell products. Years ago they had carnival side shows displaying the over weight or malformed. We have not overcame that we have brought it into our living room via TV with weight loser programs and talk shows telling us those who don't change their appearance are fair game. Society has lost the ability to understand what is discrimination and what is entertainment. With technology the target can't escape the tormentors even in their own home. They turn on their TV and it even validates what their tormentors taunt them with. Don't expect much change soon because this is so common with the adults their kids learn it before they are out of diapers.


Thug rap is used to sell kids on buying at Target. Social responsibility too often goes out the door when money is concerned.


I wish the District would require their employees watch this movie, if they haven't already. Students are afraid to report bullying because the person being bullied is always made to feel they caused the bullying. Victimizing the victim. It is very clear, in the movie, when the young man tries to tell his Asst. Principal about the bullying and she gets defensive and puts it back on him. This happens here as well. I am so glad these materials are making their way into our schools.

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