Taking on the school bullies
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