Alye speaks out on response to her anti-bullying video
Updated 6:57 am, Friday, April 1, 2011
A 13-year-old Bedford Middle School student, who posted an online video decrying the bullying that she says she has suffered, on Wednesday spoke out for the first time since the video gained widespread media attention last week.
The girl, Alye Pollack, told WTNH television, a media partner of Hearst Connecticut Media Group and the Westport News, "I used to be really, really confident. And now, not so much because people have been bullying me, using those words."
On March 14, Pollack had posted a video she titled "Words are Worse than Sticks and Stones" on the YouTube website, but even though her face is clearly visible, she does not speak on the nearly three-minute video.
Instead, bathed in orange light, Pollack holds up a series of hand-lettered signs with messages like: "I am bullied. Not a day has gone by without one of these words ..." and the next sign lists a series of insults and epithets, including, "... Fat, Slut, Freak, Ugly ..."
One of the last signs she holds before the camera reads: "HELP" in large capital letters, followed by, "THINK before you say things. IT MIGHT SAVE ..." "LIVES," reads the following sign.
As of Thursday morning, the video had been viewed by more than 155,000 people and more than 3,300 people had commented on it.
While many comments said that they sympathize with Pollack and assured her that her situation would improve if she presses ahead, others were critical, saying that her bullying claims are exaggerated and that she had, in fact, bullied other local students.
"It's so weird. I originally thought it would get, like, 200 views, at most. This is just crazy," Pollack said in the interview.
"This is not a topic of discussion in most homes, and I'm very excited that today I do believe, at least in our community, it is a topic of discussion," Pollack's mother, Audra Kruk, told WTNH reporter Chris Velardi.
Alye Pollack feels her video is helping to turn the tables on bullies who often use the Internet to target their victims, by using YouTube to communicate her anti-bullying message.
"I think it was really empowering for her," Ross said. "Hopefully it was, and I think it was empowering for a number of other people to see that. It was brave."
"I've had a lot of people come up to me and say, `I know not to say bad things. I think before I say something.' And that's just amazing, because they actually are being affected by my video," Pollack said.
Westport school officials, underscoring the school system's policy against bullying, told the Westport News earlier this week that they will not tolerate the situation that Pollack describes in her video.
The Board of Education has a policy that mandates that school officials must investigate all reported bullying incidents. The policy prohibits all forms of bullying, and penalties for such misconduct include a range of sanctions, including expulsion.
"We've been very rigid about being intolerant about bullying," Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon told the Westport News. "If there's any sign that a kid's in trouble, we act on that immediately."
Melissa Kay, the principal of Bedford Middle School, emailed students' families last Friday to alert them about the YouTube video.
In that email, Kay wrote: "We are investigating a recent case of cyber bullying. Today, the school counseling staff and I met with the 8th graders in their teams to remind them of internet safety and consequences of cyber bullying. We encourage parents to have similar discussions at home with your children."