A high school where a bullied student called in a bomb threat last fall in retaliation for being voted onto the homecoming court as a joke is hosting a regional anti-bullying event Wednesday.
The free public event, which starts at 7 p.m. at the Greendale High School Auditorium, will feature an acclaimed documentary about bullying and former Green Bay Packer Gilbert Brown, who was bullied as a teen and has a foundation to mentor kids.
"We want to help kids stand up for each other in a positive way," said James Dean, spokesman for a new community-based, nonprofit advocacy group that's hosting the event. "When students decide they're not going to allow other students to be bullied, it will stop."
Greendale Against Bullying formed in December in response to the high-profile bullying case at the high school and other incidents of bullying in the community and across the country. Peer advocates already have been mentored at Greendale High School, and the community-based group serves as a resource and partner for the school.
The advocacy group's motto: "We've got your back."
Dean, the spokesman, says there's a lack of understanding about why bullying occurs, how it affects all involved, and what the response should be.
American Behavior Clinics in the Milwaukee area has joined the community initiative, with professionals volunteering as advisers, Dean said.
National statistics about bullying are staggering:
Nearly 160,000 kids go to school every day afraid; 13 million experience some form of repeated bullying. Between 15% and 30% of all students are either bullies or victims; 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month. And about 35% of kids have been threatened online.
Wednesday night, Greendale advocates invite residents and neighbors - both adult and students - to join their efforts against bullying.
Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., at the school auditorium, 6801 Southway.
Most of the documentary, "Bully," by Emmy-winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch, will be shown, starting at 7 p.m.
Brown, a member of the 1996 Super Bowl Champion Packers, is scheduled to speak at 8 p.m.
Brown heard about the event and wanted to be part of it, Dean said. The former Packer was bullied in both middle and high school, and has written an anti-bullying book for grade school children. Brown also founded The Gilbert Brown Foundation to promote structure and life skills for kids and diversity in communities.
About 200 students from Milwaukee Public Schools are expected to attend the event, Dean said.
The group has invited other surrounding school districts and anyone else interested in attending the free documentary showing.
At the close of the event, the lights will go down and a quintet from Greendale High School will sing "The Prayer of the Children" while 30 peer ambassadors walk down the aisles, carrying lighted candles in memory of young people who have committed suicide after being bullied.
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