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Forum: Bullying Not Rite Of Passage
New Film Follows Stories Of Bullied Teens

April 28, 2011

BOSTON -- Bullying and cyberbullying are not rites of passage and must be prevented, according to those gathered at a forum Thursday morning at the Statehouse.

"I don't think that this is a new epidemic. I think it's one we know more about," said Dr. Gary Gottlieb, the CEO of Partners Healthcare.

"We have the nation's most comprehensive anti-bullying law, so now it's getting implemented," Rep. Martha Walz said.

The forum built on the anti-bullying legislation passed and signed into law last year, in response to two high-profiles cases. Carl Walker-Hoover, 11, of Springfield, hanged himself two years ago after relentless bullying from classmates. Phoebe Prince, 15, of South Hadley, unable to cope with nonstop torment of bullies also committed suicide.

Earlier this week came news of possible plea deals for five of the six teens charged in connection with her case.

Rep. John Scibak, of South Hadley, said he knows this story all too well.

"There's no question that, obviously Phoebe Prince and her family suffered a great tragedy. These individuals who were charged have also suffered over the last year. The community as a whole has," he said.

The highlight of Thursday's program was the premiere of Bullying: True Stories, a DVD featuring the experiences of four young people who were victims of bullying and how they were able to move past the devastating effects of it.

Victor Gonzalez is one of the students featured in the film. He is now a sophomore at Bucknell University.

"Sometimes what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. But we're seeing all these cases of suicide, you know? A lot of kids are giving up on their lives, and they're indulging in drugs and alcohol," he said.

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