Thursday, April 19, 2012

‘Bully Recognized, Bullying Resource Launched’

David Long, Tina Long, and “Bully” director Lee Hirsch at the National Center for Learning Disabilities’ 35th annual Benefit Dinner at the Mandarin Hotel on April 18 in New York City.
(Brian Ach /AP Images for National Center for Learning Disabilities)
I received a press release at work today about a partnership between “Bully” and the National Center for Learning Disabilities to raise awareness of bullying’s effect on children with special needs. Here is what it said:
“Lee Hirsch, director of the groundbreaking documentary ‘Bully,’ was honored last night at The National Center for Learning Disabilities’ (NCLD) 35th annual benefit dinner, held at the Mandarin Oriental hotel.  During remarks, Hirsch urged Americans to move from awareness to action, citing an anti-bullying toolkit  just introduced by NCLD that gives children, parents and educators immediate means to open dialogues and help save lives.  Among the evening’s special guests were David and Tina Long, whose anti-bullying advocacy to honor their son’s memory is chronicled in Hirsch’s film.  Paula Zahn served as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies. Mayor Bloomberg, Anne Ford and Paul LeClerc were also in attendance. The event was chaired by philanthropist Nancy Poses.

“Also honored last night for their extraordinary work in child advocacy were Dan Tishman, Chairman and CEO of Tishman Construction Corporation, and his wife Sheryl, and Dr. Stevan J. Kukic, who was given the Distinguished Education Achievement Award.

“A lead supporter of ‘Bully,’ NCLD has a long-term commitment to helping families understand and deal with bullying. Twenty-five percent of school-age children report having been seriously bullied, a proportion that swells to 60 percent for children with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and other special needs, according to findings by Ability Path.  The Longs’ late son, Tyler, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction.   

“‘Bully the film is one part of a growing, national effort to inspire positive change toward eradicating an epidemic in this country,’ said Hirsch. ‘Committed partners like NCLD and resources like its anti-bullying toolkit are vital to this effort.’

“‘The sad fact remains that millions of kids are bullied every day, and children with special needs like our son Tyler are all the more vulnerable,” said Tina Long. ‘We want to thank NCLD for sharing our understanding and determination to end bullying, and are urge parents, educators, and anyone who cares about kids’ well-being, to access this toolkit.’”
I share personal interest in any resources that can raise awareness of bullying. I was diagnosed in adulthood on the autism spectrum and believe my social impairments contributed to my being bullied and ostracized in school.

“Bully” examines the impact of bullying upon students and their families. One of the students, Alex Libby, is on the autism spectrum. So was Tyler Long, who is mentioned with his parents in the press release above.

I learned this week that the film will be shown at a Santa Rosa theater. I plan to view it in a spirit of solidarity with these boys for our shared bullying experiences. The anti-bullying toolkit is available at

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