“Adults and kids underestimate the severity of cyberbullying and the impact it can have. Cyberbullying is 24 x 7 x 365 and spreads rapidly across the Internet,” says the website for the movie SUBMIT: The Documentary, whose tagline is, “The Way We Hurt Each Other Has Evolved.”
Produced by Les Ottolenghi and Ashley Reid of PLAT4M STUDIOS LLC and directed by Muta’Ali Muhammad, SUBMIT has been accepted into the 2013 Atlanta Film Fest and the 2013 Buffalo Niagara Film Fest. The Producer Cut runs just shy of one hour.
The movie tells the stories of those who have been directly affected by cyberbullying. It also shares the heartbreaking agony of parents whose children committed suicide because they were cyberbullied. Seeing their still-raw pain touches on one’s deepest fear of losing one’s own child to this terrible monster.
As the movie says, “While the traditional bully can cause physical and emotional pain to the victim, the cyberbully has more than a fist to attack with. Online the cyberbully can publish degrading messages about the victim, spread digitally altered photos, impersonate their victim, and even assume the victim’s identity online and affect their relationships with others. Even though the cyberbully is at a distance from their victim and unable to inflict physical pain, the arsenal of the cyberbully is vast and ever growing.”
But it doesn’t just feature the victims and their families, it also shares the thoughts and insights of an impressive range of experts.
They explain that bystanders play a particularly important role in cyberbullying situations. That’s because bystanders either do nothing when children and teenagers are bullied online, or they join in. Bystanders often become bullies themselves by virtue of passing along messages or images, or by adding their own to an already inflammatory situation.
Not surprisingly, the experts also point out that anonymity and pseudonymity are contributing factors because they enable kids to act badly without accountability.
The dissemination of personal photos is another particularly disturbing variety of cyberbullying. According to one of the experts, 40% of the youngsters admit sharing nude or semi-nude pictures with people the images aren’t intended for, underscoring the notion that even if the original sender thinks their picture will remain private, reality says otherwise.
The movie explains that the legal system can’t keep pace with what’s happening online. According to one attorney interviewed, prosecutors and the police simply can’t keep up due to the sheer volume of these types of cases. And when parents of victims use civil means instead of going the criminal route, even if they’re lucky enough to win a judgment, when they try to collect, the defendant may attempt to avoid paying by filing bankruptcy, which often erases a civil judgment.
The overall problem is described this way: “We’ve got one big mess of roadblocks where both the child and the parent become victimized and re-victimized. It’s becoming more and more apparent that this problem is evolving beyond our conventional means of containment. Schools, social sites, laws, law enforcement and to some extent even the parents, don’t seem to be the answer. No conventional answers. Maybe it’s time to try something unconventional.”
The movie suggests that education is the answer to stopping the vicious problem of cyberbullying. Education and awareness programs can teach bystanders to step in to help stop the attacks. They can also teach children and teens about empathy so they’ll be less likely to mistreat others – whether through cyberbullying or other means.
Go to the website and request a screening package (the basic package is free). It’s well worth your time.