AT&T is promoting a short film this summer to remind students and parents that cyberbullying doesn't take a break while school is out. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the 20-minute film was created with the work of students who participated in an on-line bullying national contest.
This film opens with a teenager walking down a school hallway, but like a nightmare, she realizes she isn’t wearing any clothing. In the film, she is being taunted by students and even teachers. The opening is provocative and powerful with difficult language. The student character becomes horrified by the bullying.
AT&T said it is a first of its kind movie titled There's a Soul Behind that Screen.
“And that movie is an attempt to educate students, parents and educators about the dangers of bullying,” said Marissa Shorenstein, senior vice president for External Affairs for AT&T's east region.
The film includes a combination of winning entries from student films created in 2016 by high school students.
“We’ve taken the films created by students themselves and we turned it into what we believe is a very compelling short film that really showcases peers telling each other just how difficult the consequences can be by cyberbullying on one another and we hope that this opens the eyes of teenagers to stop this behavior, but also provides parents with information and tools to better help their own children,” Shorenstein explained.
AT&T works closely on this issue with the Tyler Clementi Foundation on this issue. A Siena College Research Institute survey in 2016 found 26-percent of teens in Upstate New York have been cyberbullied.
AT&T will be teaming with Siena this fall with planned visits to some Western New York schools.
College students will serve as ambassadors in high schools to work with students and deliver an anti-cyberbullying message.
“And working with students to have more intimate conversations about this issue and then to role play and perform those issues in school-wide settings and we really believe that by using college students we’re going to have much more impact because we know that peer-to-peer communication is so critical,” remarked Shorenstein.