Enough is enough: Say no to bullying
updated 4:12 PM EST, Fri March 8, 2013
- Anderson Cooper: Bullying today seems worse than in previous generations
- Cooper: When bullied children commit suicide, it's not just tragic, it's unacceptable
- Through reporting we can increase empathy and help reduce bullying, he says
- Cooper: Learn more from "The Bully Effect," which will air on CNN tonight at 8 p.m. ET
Watch a special edition of AC360° "The Bully Effect" tonight on CNN at 8 p.m. ET
(CNN) -- In the last few years, awareness about bullying has increased dramatically. Some adults may still think bullying is just a youthful rite of passage, but it seems worse than in previous generations for many parents, educators and kids.
It doesn't stop at the schoolyard or even a child's front door. Access to the Internet and social media websites mean kids can be bullied and tormented around the clock, even in the supposed safety of their own homes. The cruelty that can come with the strike of a button on a keyboard can hurt just as much as any punch or push in a playground.
We've produced a documentary called "The Bully Effect" which follows the stories of a number of people filmmaker Lee Hirsch introduced audiences to in his remarkable 2012 film "Bully." These are kids and parents who have taken their pain, their suffering, their grief and turned it into action. They are truly inspiring.
Our unhealthy love of reality TV bullying
I first started reporting on the problem of bullying a few years ago when a rash of suicides of children propelled the issue into the national spotlight. Since then, I've interviewed far too many parents whose children took their own lives because they felt like it was the only way out of the pain. It's not just tragic, it's unacceptable.
Through our reporting, we've repeatedly tried to understand the complex issues surrounding bullying. There are not just bullies and victims. Sometimes a child who is bullied may bully someone else. We've tried to understand how bullying can be a form of what researchers call "social combat," and we've looked at what programs work to prevent it, and why some schools fail to adequately address the problem.
Most bullying incidents are witnessed by bystanders: other students, teachers, and adults. All too often those bystanders fail to intervene, fail to stand up and say "enough is enough." As a teenager I saw other kids being bullied. Sometimes I tried to stop it, often times, I remained silent. It still pains me to this day.
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Increasing empathy and understanding is one of the greatest weapons we have to reduce bullying. That's why I believe in the power of reporting. And why I hope you will watch "The Bully Effect" on CNN tonight at 8 p.m. ET. Change is happening, and you can be part of it.
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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Anderson Cooper.
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Part of complete coverage on
"The Bully Effect," premiering on CNN on February 28 at 10 p.m. ET follows the personal journeys of a number of kids and parents profiled in the documentary "Bully."
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updated 4:12 PM EST, Fri March 8, 2013
Some adults may still think bullying is just a youthful rite of passage, but it seems worse than in previous generations for many parents, educators and kids.
updated 11:55 AM EST, Tue February 26, 2013
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updated 2:12 PM EDT, Mon April 15, 2013
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updated 9:16 AM EST, Sun March 3, 2013
Lawmakers have a responsibility to ensure that our schools are safe, which is why I have made addressing the problem of bullying a priority in the United States Senate.
updated 11:13 AM EST, Sun March 3, 2013
Alex Libby overcame traumatizing bullying at school. His story is part of "The Bully Effect," airing February 28 at 10 p.m. ET.
The bullying Jackie Libby's son, Alex, faced every day was so severe that she worried the emotional toll would drive him to suicide.
updated 1:06 PM EST, Sun February 24, 2013
Premiering Feb. 28, 2013, "The Bully Effect" is a powerful documentary on a movement to end bullying in America's schools.
updated 12:35 PM EDT, Wed October 31, 2012
Many schools are implementing programs that teach empathy and respect for others. But not everyone agrees with this approach to managing bullying.
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updated 11:06 PM EST, Wed February 20, 2013
Cartoon Network and Sen. Casey launch a national flag raising program as part of the Stop Bullying: Speak Up campaign.
updated 10:18 AM EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
Amanda Todd, a Canadian teen whose suicide provoked a flood of sympathetic outrage, endured one torment after another in the years leading up to her death.