SEATTLE ― Feb. 23, 2011 ― Seventeen-year-old Bill Clayton of Olympia was walking outside of his school when he was taunted for being gay by a classmate and three of his friends. Later that day, the four ambushed Bill and severely beat him, landing him in the hospital. A month after the incident, Bill took his own life. His mother and father said Bill couldn’t live in fear the rest of his life for he thought it would happen again and again.

 A growing number of young people are faced with this fear every day. Bullying: Breaking the Cycle, a KIRO 7 Family Connection Special Presentation, tells their stories and delves into the many aspects of the new wave of this age-old problem. KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Evening Anchors Angela Russell and Steve Raible team up with Morning Anchors Julie Francavilla and Chris Egert to shed light on this important issue affecting children and families in our community. Bullying airs on Thursday, March 17, at 10 p.m. on KIRO 7.

What does bullying look like? Who bullies, and who gets bullied? Why? What do parents need to know? What are educators doing about it? What can we do to break the cycle?

Angela Russell discusses the consequences of bullying and how reducing it can raise the level of academics. She also spotlights Dan Savage and the online It Gets Better Project he created in response to the seven suicides in three months of teenagers who were being bullied for being gay or perceived as gay. The website is a place where young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transexual can see the levels of potential and positivity their lives will reach if they can make it through their teen years. Savage is editorial director of The Stranger, author of the internationally syndicated column Savage Love and is a regular contributor to Public Radio International’s This American Life. Within two months, the It Gets Better Project received 30 million page views and inspired nearly 10,000 user-created videos, including one by President Barack Obama.

Chris Egert looks at how the Internet has changed the methods of bullying and talks with a teenager who was bullied online. Professionals give profiles of bullies and the bullied, and the makeup of bullying itself.

Julie Francavilla showcases local schools that have implemented prevention programs, one to great success: an 80 percent drop in bullying complaints from 2009 to 2010.

One year is a long time to a child being bullied. Is there hope for quicker results? Steve Raible highlights the difference in one month at an elementary school that has a long history of bullying. It does get better.

Students from local schools will speak from experience, demonstrating the diversity of bullying scenarios in our community. Bill Clayton’s parents will speak for him, as they have since he took his life. Educators from local schools share their anti-bullying campaigns and what they’ve learned from them. University of Washington Professor Karin Frey and other experts such as Mia Doces of Committee for Children and Dr. David Breland of Seattle Children’s give ways we can all help to break the cycle.

Bullying: Breaking the Cycle is written and directed by Ben Saboonchian, photographed by Peter Frerichs and edited by Peter Gamba, Gregg Grinnell and Caitlin Mallory. It airs on Thursday, March 17, at 10 p.m. on KIRO 7 and Comcast 107 and will be followed by a live chat with a counselor from Committee for Children on Friday, March 18, at 12 p.m. on kirotv.com/bullying. It will be rebroadcast on Saturday, March 26, at 8 p.m. Find resources on where to get help and how to give help on kirotv.com/bullying.

 KIRO 7 is a Cox Media Group station and CBS affiliate serving Western Washington.

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