CRESTVIEW — Around 63 percent of Crestview High School students have been bullied at least once in their lives, according to statistics featured at the end of "Breaking Point," a film depicting the potentially tragic outcome.
The 25-minute film — timed for release during Anti-Bullying Week — depicts a Crestview High student driven to suicide. Crestview High alumni Jack Barr and Dylan Cobb portray the victim, Ryan Abrams, and bully, Dylan King, respectively.
Okaloosa school district officials banned the film, which producers premiered Tuesday at Warriors Hall in Crestview.
Crestview High sophomore Ashton Williams said he had probably witnessed bullying but wasn't aware of it at the time.
Seeing "Breaking Point" changed that.
"Everybody who's seen it (the video ... now) knows what bullying looks like," Ashton said. "Some people don't realize what's happening and what's going on when they're seeing bullying."
Ashton's grandparents, the Rev. Gene and Marcia Strickland, also attended a screening. Pastor Strickland said he wished more students and parents could see it.
"Things like this tend to open up some avenues of discussion among people," he said.
Dale Allen, whose daughter, Kyndalle, played the bully's sister in the video, said the production teaches an important lesson about using social media as a bullying tool.
"It's a touchy subject," he said. "I hate that people turn a blind eye to bullying, especially with social networks, where it's so easy to bully someone and not even think about it."
Superintendent of Schools Mary Beth Jackson has said she was concerned that the suicide scene could drive students to take their lives.
"I don't think that's a valid concern," Ashton said. "If people wanted to do it (commit suicide), they'd figure out how."
Amber Ellis, the film's producer, said the suicide scene was crucial.
"We wanted it to be real. We wanted to go with the suicide so people can know what bullying comes to," she said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.