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Don't LOL at cyberbullying, say student filmmakers

"I'm bored... does anyone wanna hang out?!" a teen girl types on her Facebook page.

It doesn't take long for the responses to come in.

"ewww... who wants to hang out with you!" says Becky.

"nobody likes you!!!" adds Mike.

"LOL!" responds Andy.

The online dialogue is depicted in a film by a group of current and former students at Surrey's Frank Hurt Secondary. Their two-minute flick, called Do You Like What's On Your Mind?, won first place in the youth category in the United Way's Care To Change video competition.

The short student film concludes with another girl joining the online conversation. But this time the post is a positive one.

"I like you... let's hang out," Sarah says, eliciting a series of "Likes" from other teenagers on the social networking site.

The words "Make a difference. Stop the cycle" flash on the movie screen, before the credits roll.

The message, say the students, is simply about doing the right thing.

“Once you do that, you can build a relationship, and eventually you might even become friends with your bully,” said Jones.

The film was screened Wednesday at the Vancouver International Film Festival, where Grade 11 students Samantha Novecosky and Kaisen Jones and graduates Marc Doucelin, Shyanne Fast and Nana Desmond got to watch their own work.

The project started last year as a Red Cross anti-bullying initiative that saw Frank Hurt students develop and deliver a training program to help younger students identify and prevent bullying behaviour. The Red Cross then invited the students to turn their work into a video, which the students entered into the United Way contest, as well as the Reel Youth Film Festival.

Frank Hurt counsellor Karen Leeden said the film and earlier presentations to younger students exceeded all expectations, in large part due to the fact it was all delivered by teens instead of adults.

“They can get a message across that an adult can’t, simply because they are peers, and they are witnessing and experiencing the same thing. Younger kids listen to them.”

To view the film, check www.caretochange.ca/do-you-like-whats-on-your-mind/

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