Interview!

Sean Kanan Gives Back

Credit: JPI

Just Cause: Boo2Bullying, www.boo2bullying.org

Tell us about Boo. “I’m a Young Man’s Youth Ambassador for Boo2Bullying and have been for a few years now. Dimitri Halkidis is the touchstone for this charity. He’s an incredibly caring guy who works with high schools, parents and communities to help eliminate bullying. There’s a triangle — the bully, the kid getting bullied and the kids who see it and feel there’s nothing they can do — so we facilitate a dialogue.”

How did you get involved? “I was speaking at Palm Springs High School on the subject and a teacher, Richard Kravitz, asked if I would be interested in mentoring.”

Tell us what you do. “I mentor a great kid from Palm Springs High School, Ja-Son, who now is going to college. We meet once a week and talk about goals and adding structure to achieve them. It’s no secret that I’ve had my trials and tribulations, and I wish someone would have done that for me. I’m 50 and when you get older, you become more circumspect. When I was asked to be a mentor, at first I was like, ‘Who, me?’ But then I thought, ‘Why not me?’ ”

What’s been a memorable experience? “At a high school assembly, there was a little kid with acne who got up to speak and he started crying. He said, ‘Everyone thinks I’m ugly, and I’ve thought of killing myself,’ and I watched other kids get up and hug him. Seeing that gave me hope that on some level, there’s evolution.”

Your contribution is ironic since you often play bullies in films and on TV. “It is funny, isn’t it? I was severely bullied when I was young. It was bad. I was a fat little kid with the bowl haircut and glasses. I got into karate and it stopped, but that has always stayed with me. [Ja-Son] just said to me, ‘My teacher asked if you would like to mentor another kid,’ and I said, ‘Well, if he’s like you, I would!’ So, I guess I’m going to be mentoring another kid.”

Bullying is an epidemic now. “It’s a pandemic. When I used to get bullied, it was after school; you took your shots and you went home. Now, with the Internet, it’s 24/7. With just a push of a button, you can ruin someone’s life. If I told you how many kids Dimitri and I have talked to, and stories we’ve heard about kids hanging themselves, it would break your heart. That’s why we need to talk about it.”

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