Tak­ing on the school bul­lies

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television Free To Air - Bul­lied,

When for­mer Olympic swim­ming cham­pion Ian Thorpe in­tro­duced this new se­ries to a room of as­sem­bled me­dia peo­ple re­cently, he al­most choked up. When we saw the footage, we un­der­stood why.

This two-part se­ries has put hidden cam­eras on chil­dren who are the vic­tims of bul­ly­ing, to bring their pri­vate suffering and tor­ment out of the shad­ows in the hope of break­ing the cy­cle.

But far worse than the raw footage of the young man in ques­tion be­ing smacked on the head by mul­ti­ple class­mates who call him “she­male” — which is bad enough — is watch­ing the same footage be­ing viewed by his fam­ily sit­ting on the liv­ing room couch with Thorpe. It’s gut-wrench­ing.

Mar­i­lyn Camp­bell, a child psy­chol­o­gist from Queens­land Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, is on hand to fa­cil­i­tate meet­ings with the boy’s class­mates and try to ef­fect change. Bul­lied

Thorpe is par­tic­u­larly good. His em­pa­thy for the kids is pal­pa­ble, and he seems to know the right thing to say, when to say it, and when to let the sit­u­a­tion speak for itself.

There is a six-episode com­pan­ion se­ries ti­tled Cy­ber­hate, hosted by Tara Moss, screen­ing the fol­low­ing night (Wed­nes­day, 9.30pm, ABC Two).

Moss talks about her own ex­pe­ri­ences of on­line abuse af­ter a 2014 ap­pear­ance on Q&A. She also speaks to jour­nal­ist and com­men­ta­tor Andrew Bolt, writer Ben­jamin Law and co­me­dian Joel Creasey, a close friend of tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity Char­lotte Daw­son, who waged a public bat­tle with her on­line abusers be­fore end­ing her life. Tues­day, 8.30pm, ABC. Read­ers seek­ing sup­port and in­for­ma­tion about sui­cide pre­ven­tion can con­tact Life­line on 13 11 14.

Iain Thorpe is an em­pa­thetic host for new ABC se­ries

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