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Panel Discusses Bullying at Pelham Picture House

PELHAM, N.Y. – The Pelham Picture House hosted a screening of “Bully” Wednesday night followed by a community discussion about bullying led by Cheryl Bobe, director of the Pelham Guidance Council. The award-winning PG-13 documentary film, which grossed more than $3 million in 2011, focuses on bullying in schools across America.

“We’re really happy that The Picture House featured the film and the opening panel and this discussion,” said Bobe. “Pelham Guidance Council wants to do more of this where we actually have community discussions.”

Bobe was joined by Margaret’s Place Coordinator Sharon Charles, Siwanoy School Principal Susan Gilbert, Rosie Martinez, a social worker for the Pelham Guidance Council, and Kira Detone, a Pelham Memorial senior and member of Kids Helping Kids.

Parents in the audience, some with their school-aged children, spoke with the panel about the effects of bullying and how to prevent it. Bobe spoke of different programs that the Pelham Guidance Council offers to help those who are being bullied.

“We have counseling programs for families,” Bobe said. “We do an individualized assessment and then create with the family a plan for what would be most helpful. Sometimes it includes individual or family counseling.”

The council works “very closely with the schools,” Bobe said, especially when it comes to their Kids Helping Kids program, which “creates a new play every year and it often incorporates themes such as bullying, ostracism, inclusion and things like that.” The play is shown to all Pelham pupils in third through fifth grade.

“We have a youth-to-youth program and we do peer leadership with the high schoolers, which is a tutoring, kind of mentoring program,” said Bobe.

The Pelham Picture House has been screening the film in the evenings since Friday, June 8, and ended with day and night screenings Thursday. The June 8 screening included a panel discussion with director Lee Hirsch, state Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), Pelham Memorial High School senior Roberta Barnett, Charles, and Gilbert.

When it comes to preventing further bullying, Bobe said that the school and council have to know what is going on first in order to stop it.

“Then the adults have to pay attention to it, consider it a serious thing and follow up – try and find out what did happen,” said Bobe. “Make sure there are sure and swift consequences if that’s part of what needs to happen, and that the victim gets some attention in terms of his own coping skills."

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