KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — It may be “March Madness” time, but college basketball won’t be the only thing dominating American Forces Network television airwaves this weekend.
On Sunday, AFNfamily will air seven hours of anti-bullying programming in Europe and the Pacific. The special “stop bullying” broadcast is being shown in cooperation with the Department of Defense Education Activity, according. The event will be interactive, with parents and students invited to share information and constructive comments during the program via social media.
The program “highlights kids with their ideas to stop bullying — kids know kids,” said George Smith, chief of affiliate relations at the AFN Broadcast Center in Riverside, Calif. Smith said he’s convinced “something is there for every parent and every school child and we hope they can get something out of it.”
The first segment, “Stand Up: Military Kids Against Bullying,” airs at 12 p.m. Central European Time/Japan-Korea Time. It features different initiatives by students at Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe.
These include a video class at Ramstein High School centered on bullying and a Facebook site, “BULLYCLUB101,” started by Sembach Middle School student Tierra Kienzle.
Kienzle, 13, created the page about a year ago, in the midst of “a lot of drama at my school … and me being the person everybody came to talk to,” she said.
The site has since attracted students from around the world, with the group’s 115 members offering advice to one another on dealing with bullying and other problems.
Bullying, Kienzle said, is a universal problem.
“Every school I’ve been to, being a military child, everybody bullies. Bullying is everywhere,” she said. “It could just be a sly comment, where the person thinks they’re joking around; but the person they say it to may not think about it in the same way.”
DODEA officials said all discipline issues, including bullying, are tracked at the individual school level. Bullying incidents may be recorded in discipline reports in ways that make it difficult to specifically track, such as a “fight” or “altercation,” said DODEA spokeswoman Elaine Kanellis in an email to Stars and Stripes.
“There has not been an increase in bullying,” she said. “Our program is preventative and this was a great opportunity to highlight this important topic again.”
AFN’s slate of anti-bullying programming ends with a 5:30 p.m. showing of the 2011 documentary “Bully.” The movie follows five examples of bullying over the course of a school year, including those of 11-year-old Ty Field-Smalley and 17-year-old Tyler Long, two boys who killed themselves after enduring persistent bullying at their schools.
During the day’s entire broadcast, parents and students are invited to join an online conversation and share their comments, observations and questions with AFN and DODEA. DODEA staff will be monitoring Twitter; send tweets to @DODEA#StopBullying. Comments can also be left on AFN’s Facebook page.
In the program’s anti-bullying spirit, “arguments, mean-spirited discussions and hurtful comments will be deleted from Facebook,” says an AFN news release.
For more information on Sunday’s broadcast, go to myafn.wordpress.com.