April 17, 2014

Bullying continues to be in headlines

Attention for a Wisconsin TV news anchor’s stance against bullying is not going away.

The now famous four-minute editorial video in response to unsolicited hurtful email comments has gone viral, garnering national attention for the La Crosse television news anchor. Geraldo VilaCruz is the associate dean of student development at Madison College. “I think it was something that touched a number of individuals and I think that kind of led to this wide-spread conversation.”

There’s been a continuous onslaught of support for Jennifer Livingston (WKBT News 8) as she confronts what she calls bullying by a viewer attacking her weight and calling her a bad role model for kids, particularly girls — she has three.

Folks in the media and social media have picked up on the story. Though, some wonder whether the man’s comments are actual acts of bullying. VilaCruz says bullying is a form of harassment, and that’s what this is. “Whether we call it bullying or being rude or inappropriate or incivility, it’s something that I think we have to pay attention to because words do matter and they have a profound impact on people.”

Cyberbullying is defined as “the act of harassing someone online by sending or posting mean messages.” VilaCruz says the good that comes from this hurtful act is that it’s bringing awareness to the issue. “The fact that this is out there and that this conversation is taking place, I do think it can have a positive impact on those individuals that are feeling targeted and may have had some fear or apprehension to talk about it.”

Several Hollywood celebrities have voiced their support for Livingston, including her movie star brother Ron Livingston. He says his sister has always been his role model. Livingston, an Emmy award-winning journalist, is scheduled to appear on the Ellen Degeneres show on Tuesday.

October is National Anti-Bullying Month.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:59

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