November 18, 2017

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Documentary sheds light on vicious bullying cycle in “Mentor” | DVD Pick

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mentorfilmMentor. DVD and online streaming. 75 min. Dist. by Garden Thieves Pictures. 2014. $24.95. ISBN unavail.
Gr 8 Up–From the outside, the small town of Mentor, OH, seems idyllic and all-American. However, five local students have committed suicide due to bullying in recent years, and this powerful documentary focuses on two of the victims and their families. Through on-camera interviews with two sets of grieving parents, viewers learn that the victims, Eric and Sladjana, suffered constant bullying, threats, and harassment, in person and online. In Sladjana’s case, the cruelty did not stop even in death, with bullies showing up to mock her as she lay in the casket and later continuing their vicious campaign online. According to the film, the Mentor school district did not take action, and after Sladjana’s suicide, a school counselor admitted to shredding notes that documented the many occasions when the student begged for help. No one from the school district agreed to appear on camera. (Though their grief is palpable and heartbreaking, there is a slight over-reliance on interviews with the parents, while comments from attorneys and an anti-bullying expert are cut somewhat short.) VERDICT Librarians everywhere should make this film available to their students and even more importantly, to their administrators.–Bernie Morrissey, The Harker School, San Jose, CA

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