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posted: 4/16/2012 5:52 PM

St. Charles forum: Combat bullying with kindness

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  • Video: "Finding Kind" trailer


A kind word to someone or an apology, when needed. Not talking behind someone's back or posting negative comments on social media.

Refraining from using the five-letter word that begins with a "B."

These are several ways teenage girls -- and all people, actually -- can act better toward one another and fight back against the bullying epidemic.

"It seems simple," said Michelle Bidwell, a clinical psychologist at the St. Charles-based Centennial Counseling Center. "It's hard because you don't want to be the one who's different. But it takes some people doing something different to make a change."

Bidwell will help moderate a panel discussion Sunday after a viewing of an anti-bullying documentary called "Finding Kind" at the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles.

The roughly 70-minute documentary follows two college students, Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson, who travel across the country to better understand female bullying and challenge girls and women to promote change by being kind.

Hosted by the counseling center and St. Charles School District 303, and sponsored by the St. Charles Youth Commission, the free event is from 1 to 3 p.m., and organizers hope it starts the conversation with girls and families in general about bullying.

"It tends to get brushed under the rug," said Bidwell, whose clients include students through high school age. "Anything and everything you can imagine happens. It's texts, it's Facebook, it's ignoring somebody intentionally at school to prove a point. It seems like nothing is off limits."

The panel will include a counselor from Centennial, a recent graduate from either St. Charles North or East High School, and two others.

Bidwell said the afternoon event hopes to show people how their actions can unintentionally contribute to bullying and what can be done to stop it.

"We're all part of the problem and solution," she said. "The underlying theme here is we can be kind. We just have to make that decision."

The film is geared toward students in grades sixth through 12.

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