Bully Documentary Ignites a National Conversation About the Harmful Mental Health Effects of Bullying

AscentiveCyber Safety news from the Ascentive team

This year 13 million American kids will be bullied and three million students will be absent because they feel unsafe at school, according to the documentary Bully. Bully sheds light on the harmful mental health effects bullying can have and has inspired a national conversation about how parents and educators should deal with this nationwide crisis.

“Bullying is a very serious issue that can result not only in immediate physical injury, but in lifelong emotional scars as well,” said Angela Mohan, a California-based licensed marriage and family therapist and member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. “Bullying in 2012 isn’t the same thing that parents may have experienced when they were young. Teens face bullies at school, home and in the online world. There’s no escape.”

Talking about how to handle bullies and how parents and educators can provide needed support is critically important. Parents and educators need to take action to identify bullying that may be happening now, to stop bullying that is taking place and to prevent it from happening in the future.

CounselingCalifornia.com offers conversation guidance for parents and educators who suspect their child or student is being bullied:

  •      Ask a general, open-ended inquiry: “Is anything going on at school or online with your friends/classmates that you want to talk about”? If the child seems hesitant to open up, don’t force the issue.
  •      Share a personal story: “When I was in high school…” Parents can relate with their child and encourage a conversation by telling a story about a time when they were bullied at school or at work.
  •      Make a direct inquiry: “Are you being bullied”?

On the flip side, if you suspect your child or student is acting like a bully, it is important to talk about the serious and lasting impact bullying can have on children and the potential consequences the child may face for being a bully. Equally important is talking to your child about changing his or her behavior.

CounselingCalifornia.com offers tips for parents and educators who suspect their child or student is acting as a bully:

  •      Sit down and talk to your child or student.  Be gentle but firm in your approach.  Ask open-ended questions to reduce the risk of the child becoming defensive (like, “Tell me what happened,” or “Your actions have hurt someone.  What do you think your consequence should be”?).  Is there any provocation (real or perceived)?
  •      If you are too aggressive (physically and/or verbally) in your response to bullying, you will be reinforcing the behavior.  Some ideas of appropriate consequences are to have the child make amends with the victim (to restore a sense of safety), do a community service, do special chores around the house, or remove a privilege or valued item for a while.
  •      Set clear and firm boundaries as to what is acceptable or not.  Set clear and firm consequences if the behavior continues.  Follow through consistently.

Some kids may be reluctant to talk about bullying. They might be embarrassed, afraid of the repercussions of telling someone or simply uncomfortable talking about it. If this is the case, parents or educators should enlist the help of another adult with whom their child is comfortable, such as an aunt or uncle, school counselor, pastor or talk therapy with a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Photo Credit


More Organizations Launch Anti-Bullying Campaigns

AscentiveCyber Safety news from the Ascentive team

More and more organizations are launching their own campaigns to stop bullying and cyber-bullying. Tanda, a pioneer in energy-based at-home beauty devices, announces its Zap Bullying campaign to raise awareness among parents and teens about this epidemic and to empower teens to feel confident and secure in their own skin.  The multifaceted campaign from Tanda Zap, the powerful acne clearing technology endorsed by leading dermatologists and successfully used by thousands of users across the country, will include a partnership with the national leading anti-bullying organization STOMP Out Bullying™, a social media awareness campaign and a limited edition blue Zap device to support the cause.

“We envision a world in which young people feel safe from bullying and we’re thrilled to partner with the STOMP Out Bullying™ organization. We share their commitment to help people take a stand against bullying in schools and communities,” says Fabian Tenenbaum, CEO of Syneron Beauty, the maker of Tanda branded products.  “Tanda Zap offers ground-breaking acne clearing technology to help teens feel comfortable and secure in their own skin and we hope that this initiative will raise awareness and dialogue around this issue and that ultimately it will serve to help foster greater understanding and mutual respect among teens.”

Tanda Zap invites consumers to “Zap Bullying” and pledge support to this social campaign by visiting its Facebook page, http://www.Facebook.com/Tanda.  “Like” Tanda and then “Vote” to Zap Bullying.  Tanda will donate $1 for each Vote to the STOMP Out Bullying™ organization.

“We are so grateful to have Tanda Zap as a philanthropic partner,” says Ross Ellis, Founder and CEO of STOMP Out Bullying™. “Together we can reach more schools, kids, teens and families affected by bullying with the critical educational resources and support services they need.”

As part of the campaign, the brand will introduce a limited edition blue Tanda Zap acne spot treatment device, from which a portion of proceeds will be donated to STOMP Out Bullying™. The limited edition blue Tanda Zap device will be available for $49 for Back to School 2012.

PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, a partner in The Bully Project and a supporter of Lee Hirsch’s new documentary “Bully,” offers educators, students, families and individuals the tools they need to address bullying in schools. By downloading free resources at PACER.org/bullying, communities can find ways to help change the culture of bullying.

“The Bully movie gives everyone a heartbreaking look at the reality of bullying,” says Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. “Our hope is that the movie will be a call to action, and that more people will work together to create a climate that doesn’t accept this behavior.”

Resources available at PACER.org/bullying include bullying prevention classroom toolkits, activities and videos for K-12 students; toolkits for organizing community events around bullying prevention; tips for how parents can talk with their children about the subject and work with schools and more.

PACER’s TeensAgainstBullying.org website offers relevant and interactive information in a teen-friendly way. Teens can find strategies to deal with bullying, ways they can stand up for other kids, and ideas for how they can bring the bullying prevention message to their school. PACER’s KidsAgainstBullying.org website is also specifically designed for elementary-aged children and uses a cast of animated characters to share bullying prevention strategies.

In addition, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLB), AbilityPath and Autism Speaks are partnering with The Bully Project to raise awareness about how bullying affects children with disabilities. Resources and a toolkit will be available soon at specialneeds.bullyingproject.com.

Photo Credit


Fusion Project Unlocks Predictive Power of Public Data

AscentiveHave you ever wondered why Montana is the happiest state? Or why Mitt Romney is the front runner? These questions and others like them heavily influence our economy, our politics, and even everyday life, but the data that holds the answers is scattered far and wide. This is now changing thanks to the Fusion Project which is combing the vast data stores of government and research institutions alike to create one massively powerful data set.

The Fusion Project is making the promises of big data a reality and is possible only because of the explosion of available data. Back in 2010 Eric Schmidt, then CEO of Google, said that “every two days we now create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003”. Data has even skyrocketed since then with the proliferation of smart phones, tablet computers, and other products producing new forms of data, but no one has yet taken full advantage of this overwhelming data source.

“I was surprised by the sheer volume of data available from governments and public institutions,” said Jason Kolb, a senior data scientist at Applied Data Labs. “But there is very little value being extracted from it due to its fragmented nature and our inability to analyze it all as a whole.” When the data is properly fused to private data, Kolb said, companies can reveal exciting new insights and identify ideas and opportunities that were previously hidden. For example, they can extend customer data with demographic and income information from the US Census project, or quality of life data from Pew Research. This unlocks much richer sets of information for use in customer service, marketing, and many other initiatives.

To address this need, Applied Data Labs is launching The Fusion Project–a public project using techniques and technology developed internally at Applied Data Labs to combine multiple public data sets into a single, value-packed data set for public consumption. Using distributed data analysis technology which employs advanced statistical analysis and data integration technology, the Fusion Project is able to join together previously silo’d data sets, unlocking insights and ideas that were previously unavailable. The project’s ultimate goal is to unlock the synergy latent in the publicly available data sets and put them to work in analytics environments.

“The Fusion Project uses several new and emerging technologies to work its magic,” said Kolb. “It’s one of the first projects to use Semantic Web technology in a meaningful way, and we’ve developed several unique ways to combine statistical research and analysis to stitch data sets together.” Applied Data Labs researches and develops experimental and theoretical analytic technologies internally and then consumerizes them in various ways, the Fusion Project being one of the first publicly-available incarnations of this process.

Photo Credit


United Way Brings Together Greater Philadelphia Business Leaders for Celebration of Women and Leadership

AscentiveBusiness news from the Ascentive team

United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Women’s Initiative hosted its annual gala last evening to celebrate women leaders in philanthropy and volunteerism. Presented by Independence Blue Cross, proceeds from the gala support the work of United Way’s Women’s Initiative, which focuses on programs for at-risk women and girls, including Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow (GTLT), a program that helps at-risk adolescent girls develop self-esteem and leadership skills.

The gala, attended by Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter and members of the business community, was co-hosted by Sherryann Plesse, principal and chief learning officer at Vanguard and Renee Rhem, vice president, customer service at Independence Blue Cross.  Sixth and seventh grade girls, who are part of the 2012 Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow class, were featured in the program which also recognized Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown as the 2012 Women’s Initiative award winner.

“The mission of United Way’s Women’s Initiative and that of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown is the same,” said Jill Michal, president and CEO, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania. “We’re both committed to ensuring the success of women and girls in our region- I know we all left the event feeling inspired by her leadership and passion.”

“The Councilwoman leads by example and her life commitment to women’s issues is evident,” added Amy Frazier, Marketing & Sales Leader at Pricewaterhouse Cooper and Chair of United Way’s Women’s Initiative. “As women, she challenged us to continue to do more for our girls, and our community.”

The Women’s Initiative is comprised of many of the region’s top professional women who give, advocate and volunteer in support of at-risk women and girls. Through United Way’s Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow program, girls participate in community- and school-based activities that help them build self-esteem, honor their bodies and maintain healthy relationships with their peers.

The United Way Women’s Initiative is a leadership network committed to philanthropy and volunteerism in the Greater Philadelphia area. The Women’s Initiative is bringing positive change to our community by increasing the impact of women donors, increasing the number of women volunteers, and strengthening programs serving at-risk women and girls.  The Women’s Initiative’s signature program – Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow – is changing the lives of at-risk adolescent girls and supporting area agencies with proven success in serving this vulnerable population.

United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania is part of a national network of more than 1,300 locally governed organizations that work to create lasting positive changes in communities and in people’s lives. United Way engages the community to identify the underlying causes of the most significant local issues, develops strategies and pulls together financial and human resources to address them, and measure the results. United Way is advancing the common good in southeastern Pennsylvania by focusing on education for children, income for families and health for seniors.

Photo Credit


Bully MPAA Protest Becomes a Movement

ascentiveCyberbullying news from the Ascentive team

“BULLY,” the highly anticipated anti-bullying documentary (in theaters March 30th), has sparked a protest and now a movement, as a number of major movie stars, theater owners, and Members of Congress have joined forces to protest the film’s R rating. In a clear triumph for the film, Gerry Lopez, CEO of AMC Theaters, one of the most prominent theater chains in the world, spoke out against the R-Rating, saying, “To ‘automatically default’ BULLY is a mistake. Automatic default to a rating, a category, a genre… doesn’t matter, is a mistake.  The message, the movie and its social relevance defy that kind of formulaic, conventional thinking. AMC will show this movie, and we invite our guests to engage in the dialogue its relevant message will inevitably provoke.”

Mr. Lopez is one of almost 300,000 people to get behind a petition started by a junior in high school named Katy Butler. Ms. Butler, who has experienced severe bullying herself, started the petition on Change.org after the MPAA ruled by one vote that  “Bully” should receive an R rating due to six swear words. When Mr. Lopez asked one of his sons about the film, curious as to whether the debate had reached the demographic the film is geared toward, his son had already signed onto Ms. Butler’s petition.

The support from Hollywood has been on a steady increase since Katy Butler launched her petition. On March 20, Meryl Streep and her daughter Mamie Gummer will co-host a screening of the film with David Boies, one of the two attorneys responsible for overturning Proposition 8 in California, and his daughter, Mary Boies.  The screening will be held in New York City.

Johnny Depp has also signed on to lend his support; Ellen DeGeneres has devoted time to the film on her television show; and in the sports arena, Drew Brees, quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, has also added his voice to the movement.  Kelly Ripa and Anderson Cooper came on board as news anchor partners, hosting a screening in New York City last week, that was presented by Bing, the search engine from Microsoft. In addition to the screening in NYC, Bing will also be supporting the film in a number of ways, including hosting an additional screening in LA.

Iconic American designer Tommy Hilfiger will design an exclusive t-shirt inspired by the Bully movie poster which will be sold in Tommy Hilfiger stores with a portion of proceeds benefiting Facing History and Ourselves (http://www.facing.org/). Mr. Hilfiger is the first of ten designers that The Weinstein Company will ask to donate their services on behalf of the fundraising effort.  IMG, renowned global sports, fashion and media agency continues to support the film in a number of ways, and famed photographer David LaChapelle has offered to donate his talents towards an advertising campaign.

In Congress, Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) issued a bipartisan letter to the MPAA, supporting Katy Butler’s petition, to urge former Senator Dodd, now Chairman of the MPAA, to overturn the ruling. Over 20 Members of Congress have signed on to the letter. The political engagement continues to grow this week while Congress is in District Work Session, with additional support coming from the Senate. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called for a PG-13 rating on Twitter today, and has told The Weinstein Company she intends to play a more active role in this protest.

Last Friday, Justin Bieber joined the cause, telling his fans on Twitter about the movie and encouraging them to stand up for each other. He is currently working with The Weinstein Company on how he can do more for the film.

“We’ve got the MPAA’s attention, and with nearly 300,000 signatures and support from celebrities and politicians, there’s now a national movement of people calling on the MPAA to drop the ‘R’ rating for ‘Bully,'” Katy Butler said. “As someone who lived through bullying day in and day out in school, including having my finger broken by bullies, this film is too important to silence with an ‘R’ rating. Everyone should have a chance to see ‘Bully.'”

Photo Credit


%d bloggers like this: