PARKER, Colo. – One in five students reports being bullied, and 13-year-old Alec Ybarra was once one of them, but not anymore.
Now, the Colorado teen has turned his own difficult experience into an independent film called "Unmarked," which is getting a lot of attention, according to WQAD.
In Alec Ybarra's case, it wasn't other students who were bullying him, but the mother of a classmate.
Alec says the mother bullied him for a year because he knew something that could get her son in trouble. He said it got so bad, he changed schools. And that changed his outlook. He decided to make a movie about his experience.
He wrote the film "Unmarked" in just two days.
"That’s what happened in real life," he said. "All those events took place over the course of a year. It’s about a friend’s angry mother who tries to destroy the student that knows information about her son that could get her son in trouble."
It's a powerful film that is getting the attention of some big film festivals and awards programs.
Alec wrote, directed, acted and edited the film, learning a lot along the way. He calls this his passion.
"It did help a lot," he said. "Now looking back at it, I’ve been working on the film itself for a year and a half. It’s helped a lot I went through a whole year of this situation, it tore me down a lot. Then I was able to make a film about it, that can hopefully help a lot of people going through similar things."
Alec's parents say the bullying was a heartbreaking situation.
"It’s tough because you don’t want your son beat up or bullied, especially as time went on and we found out a parent was involved," his father Fred Ybarra said.
They say it was great that he found this outlet to help him deal with it.
"It is a passion of his, at one time," Fred Ybarra said. "I thought he was going to outgrow it, but it’s what he loves doing and he’s good at it."
Alec's new school, Parker Performing Arts School, has embraced him and his project.
"To have a student who is so passionate to teach others about it, and to show others how to live through it is very empowering especially with adolescents and teens, sometimes voices of their peers are far louder than educators and adults," principal Jennifer Burgess said.
Alec is now exploring options for distribution. He wants kids everywhere to see his movie and learn from his experience.
"The message of the film I am trying to portray is standing up for yourself," he said. "That is one of the things I had to do a lot in real life, especially since that person had gotten everyone to turn against me. That’s what I want to portray through the script and the film and acting, you need to stand up for yourself in these situations."
National Bullying Prevention month has been observed every October since 2006.
If you or someone you know are looking for help dealing with bullies, StopBullying.gov can provide resources.