Film brings bullying at school into the open
A girl offers advice for dodging bullies: "Walk with confidence. Hold your head high. They won't even try it."
A teenage boy talks about parents blithely saying to go have fun: "They don't know what's out there."
And a girl who looks about 9 says: "I have been bullied because of the color of my skin."
Their words are blunt, and their messages at times hard to accept. Their faces seem familiar, as familiar as any kids walking the halls of a school in Snohomish County.
In the film "Kids' Futures -- Voices of Youth 2012," they talk about their experiences with bullying. Some admit they bullied someone. Others share the pain of being a target.
The film, a project of the Snohomish County Health and Safety Network, will be shown at four free public forums, beginning with one at 7 tonight at Darrington High School. Other forums are scheduled for this Thursday, Nov. 12 and Nov. 14 in Everett, Lynnwood and Monroe.
"The point of the whole project is giving kids a voice they don't usually have," said Sara Job, 18, a Monroe High School graduate and University of Washington freshman. "The film shows how we feel about a problem in our community. It's strictly our opinions, our work, to get the attention of adults in our community."
Kids' Futures events have been held in Snohomish County since the 1990s. They let students share their views directly with lawmakers, school officials and other adults. In the past, one summit was scheduled each year. This is the fifth year that film has been used to get kids' points across, and the first year for several forums around the county.
Jim Teverbaugh is executive director of the Snohomish County Health and Safety Network, an organization that works to curb substance abuse and violence among young people. Youth councils organized by the network work on the film, visit schools and do other activities.
"The young people are amazing," Teverbaugh said. Past films have covered topics as wide-ranging as U.S. 2 safety, drug availability in schools, and "Engagement in the Latino Community."
"The films are written and directed by groups of young people throughout the county. We provide technical help," Teverbaugh said.
Budget cuts haven't ended the effort. Teverbaugh said the local network was once one of 42 such groups operating under the umbrella of the state Family Policy Council, funding for which has been eliminated by the Legislature. The network retains its legislative authority, Teverbaugh said, and is overseen by a board of directors.
Money for a small staff and Kids' Futures projects comes from the county's one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax that funds chemical dependency and mental health programs. Teverbaugh said the network applies for funding. The films are seen at the forums, and also at area schools and on the Internet.
Chris Jury, the network's program coordinator, said interview subjects for the 45-minute film were found at Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County, at the Family Shelter run by the Interfaith Association of Snohomish County, at a drop-in center in Monroe and other spots.
Parents granted permission, and children as young as 7 were interviewed. Names are not used in the film.
People kids perceive as bullies aren't all their own peers. Along with that critical coach, a teen mentions a school nurse commenting on her weight in front of others. "Maybe the adult didn't think it was a big deal, just an offhand comment," Jury said.
Job, the UW freshman, first became interested in the network's projects when one of the youth councils, Power Plays, visited Monroe Middle School. "I've been doing this since eighth grade," she said.
At UW, she is studying psychology. She wants to be a youth counselor. "The whole reason I got interested in that was Power Plays," she said.
Job plans to attend at least one of the forum. She hopes kids in the film will show up to see their messages delivered to local leaders. "They don't understand how big a deal it is. They're making a difference," Job said.
Teverbaugh wants adults to take the film seriously.
"When I think back to my childhood, bullying was just part of the culture," he said. "Grown-ups did not understand how dangerous it is."
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Film in four places
"Kids' Futures: Voices of Youth 2012," a film about bullying made by local young people, will be shown at four Snohomish County Health and Safety Network programs. Events free and open to public; discussion will follow film.
7 tonight, Darrington High School, 1085 Fir St., Darrington. Hosted by Darrington School Board member Alan Pickard.
6:30 p.m. Thursday, Everett Music Hall, 1401 SE Everett Mall Way (inside mall near Macy's). Hosted by state Rep. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo.
6:30 p.m. Nov. 12, Edmonds School District Board Room, 20420 68th Ave. W., Lynnwood. Hosted by state Rep. Mary Helen Roberts, D-Lynnwood.
7 p.m. Nov. 14, Sky Valley Resource Center, 701 First St., Sultan. Hosted by state Rep. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe.
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