Obama, Cartoon Network target bullying in documentary

Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:03am EDT
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By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama appears in an upcoming Cartoon Network documentary aimed at encouraging bullied children and others to speak up, and says that as the father of two young girls he is deeply concerned about the issue.

In an introduction to the 30-minute film, the president appeals to students, parents and teachers to take a stand on bullying.

"It's wrong, it's disruptive and we can all prevent it," said Obama, who hosted the first White House conference on bullying last year.

He said that he was speaking not only as the president but as a father. "We've all got more work to do. Everyone has to take action against bullying."

Bullying has been on the rise nationwide, according to government statistics. A 2009 U.S. Department of Education study found more than a quarter of students ages 12 to 18 said they had been a victim - often with others around.

The documentary, set to air nationally on Sunday, mixes stories from children who have been bullied with tips from those who have gotten past it. It includes interviews with celebrities, athletes and survivors who urge bullying victims, children who witness bullying, parents and teachers to speak out.

Stuart Snyder, Cartoon Network president and chief operating officer, said the film is aimed at elementary and middle school students ages 8 to 13.

"Speaking up is the best way to bring an end to bullying," he told a crowd of about 400 students at a special screening of the movie at a middle school in Washington on Wednesday.   Continued...

Five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber (C) discusses tips for dealing with bullies with a group of young people in a scene from the Cartoon Network's first documentary on stopping bullying titled, "Speak Up," in this undated publicity photograph. The film will have its premiere when it is screened to the entire student body of Stuart-Hobson Middle School in Washington, D.C. on March 14, 2012. REUTERS/Courtesy Cartoon Network/Handout