Bullying takes center stage at Orpheum

Community leaders took part in a panel discussion on the impact of bullying following a film on the subject Thursday night.

Marshalltown citizens packed into the Orpheum Theater to watch a documentary on bullying featuring an Iowa school. “Bully” is an award-winning documentary highlighting the lives of four students including a Sioux City student.

Superintendent of the Sioux City School District, Paul Gausman, John Augustine, Miller Middle School counselor, Marshalltown Superintendent Marvin Wade, Robin Lilienthal, provost at Marshalltown Community College, Dotti Thompson, executive director of Domestic Violence Alternatives/Sexual Assault Center, and Laura Rink, a Marshalltown teacher, were all on hand for a panel discussion following the film. Marshalltown High School Principal Aiddy Phomvisay moderated the discussion.

Gausman called the film a call to action.

“This is going to take all of us to fix,” he said.

Each of the panel members gave their impressions of the film before taking questions from the audience.

Augustine said the movie helped him see the bullying issue from a victim’s perspective.

“I don’t know what’s going on in every student’s mind,” he said.

Wade said he was surprised how much of what was said in the film echoed what he hears every day.

“We are doing all the right programs blah, blah blah,” he said. “If you are the parent of a student that is being bullied, that is falling on deaf ears.”

Rink thanked Gausman for allowing his school district to be vulnerable and act as a catalyst for change. It has to be the students that empower the effort just as much as adults do, she added.

Prompted by audience input, Phomvisay asked the panel how they would deal with the very real problem that telling an adult can often make issues of bullying worse.

“If one adult is not working out for you, find another,” Augustine said. “Keep after it. Don’t give up.”

The film’s showing was part of the Not In Our Town Marshalltown Project.