For the past year a reporter was embedded in different school systems to report on bullying. This life-changing assignment will be chronicled tonight on CNN in a documentary called "The Bully Effect," premiering on February 28 at 10 p.m. ET.
The documentary highlights several situations. Three stories being highlighted:
When Alex Libby was a 12 year old in Sioux City, Iowa, the slurs, curses and threats would begin even before he boarded the school bus. It escalated to such a frightening degree that Hirsch put down his camera and got involved in his subject's life. He warned Alex's parents and school administrators that he feared for the student's safety.
Today Alex has become an anti-bullying rock star with appearances on national television and a visit to the White House. He also regularly delivers speeches to capacity crowds as an activist, and considers himself a spokesman for the bullied. We'll show you how he overcame the junior high torment to find happiness in high school.
Kelby Johnson came out as a lesbian in middle school and in the years since she and her family have been treated like pariahs in their small town in Oklahoma. Kelby admits to once being a cutter and speaks matter-of-factly about attempting suicide on three separate occasions. Even after she was hit purposely by a van of high school boys while walking back from lunch, she believes it's her destiny to remain in her small conservative town and change a few minds.
Now 19, Kelby says her participation in "Bully" empowered her to raise awareness about bullying targeted toward the most at risk population for suicide – LGBT youth. "I know that being gay, you can feel very alone," she says, "and I hope that when they watch the movie, that goes away and they realize there is someone standing with them who has gone through that." You'll get to hear about Kelby's struggles, the people who abandoned her family, and those who stood by her.
Kirk Smalley's story is both inspirational and heartbreaking. The film introduced him burying his 11-year-old son TY after he committed suicide because he was bullied. Kirk says, "I will fight bullying forever because my son will be 11 forever." You'll see his family turn unbearable pain into motivation to enlist the entire world in the fight against bullying.