THE BULLY MOVIE: TRUE COLORS IN TECHNICOLOR

Bully the movie

THE BUZZ:  A must see ‘year-in-the life’  film, Bully the Movie  documents what’s really going on inside America’s schools.  

THE GENRE:  Documentary

THE PREMISE:  Filmmaker Lee Hirsch drew on his own childhood trauma to document the hidden world of bullied children. His goal? To show the world how the average child is ill-equipped to defend himself in American schools, thanks to no help from administration, police, or even Mom and Dad.

Following students from five American States (Georgia, Iowa, Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma), the film explores the experiences of students and their parents, and the ineffectual actions of school and law officials in the face of relentless bullying.  Especially heart rending are the profiles of the parents of two boys, Tyler Long and Ty Smalley, who both tragically committed suicide when the bullying got too tough to take. (For additional detail and a full summary of Bully: Wikipedia).

THE GOODS AND BADS:  The ‘bad’ is what the film is all about: Parents, teachers and police all turn a blind eye to what’s poisoning schools and the lives of many students.  The stories are horrifying and the scenes painful to watch. The only good: That Lee Hirsch exposed the truth for all to see.

THE CONTROVERSY:  Bully was to have an R rating due to the disturbing and frank content and some questionable language (as if kids have never heard the word Fuck before. Please).  The rating would have severely limited who would see this important film and would have removed the audience who most needs to see it from the theatres.

THE REVIEW:  Bully is gut wrenching at times, extremely devastating at its worst moments.  But it’s a film that needs to be seen by everyone – educators, parents and kids. Through a well-crafted  piece of documentary film making, Hirsch manages to reach the hearts and minds of the victims without sensationalizing their trauma. As a result, without manipulation, you see a story unfold that you wish was fiction, but is in fact as real as it gets.

THE VERDICT:  Disturbing, uncomfortable, heartbreaking, enriching.  Watching this film should  be part of the curriculum of growing up.  We should all watch it at least once in our lifetime. As an educational tool, it should be screened in Teacher’s College, police training, at professional development workshops.  Children should watch in fourth grade and then again in high school, as a reminder.

THE CAVEAT:  After seeing the film, talk to your kids, ask questions, and listen. Most of all, be ready to hear things that may surprise you.

The Preach: It would have been fascinating to hear the parents of the bullies being interviewed. What would they say about about their kids’ behavior? Would they be shocked? Defensive? And there seems to be different types of adult blindness when it comes to bullying. While the school administration and police bury their heads, the parents of bullies seem invisible.

Which brings us to one of the top causes of bullying today – absent parenting, aka ‘my child would never do that.’ While we need to protect bullied children from being victimized, and to make them feel safe, that band-aid reaction treats the symptoms. Just like we prevent disease by encouraging good health, we need to preclude bullying by going to the source. By teaching children NOT to bully. By  educating them about the values of kindness, empathy, and understanding in every day life, with our peers, and with those who may or may not be like us.

If you or your child are a victim of bullying, you may find the information or the help you need on these websites:

The Bully Project

Kids Help Phone (Canada)

Kids Helpline (worldwide resource listing)

Bullying.org

Stop Bullying.gov (US Department of Health)

Bullying Canada

Trackbacks

  1. […] I think it’s completely awesome that y’all are encouraging us Moms to teach our daughters to reject those who are different, especially when it comes to their sexual orientation. Anti-Gay is totally the way! In fact, I’m going to tell my girl that the next time she sees anybody doing anything I tell her is wrong, she should write about it on the Internet, and then get all her friends to do the same.  That’s not bullying at all. […]

  2. […] or yes, for sure, religion.  Hate begets prejudice, which leads alienation, intolerance, violence, bullying, and […]

  3. […] Feeling bullied, the anchor made her reply public and I clicked my mouse hard to share her inspiring speech. At the same time, I wondered whether there was some demon inside of her that nodded at the criticism. Like so many women, was there a point in her childhood when she came to believe that she was not beautiful enough and did this email give her the strength to silence that inner voice for good? […]

  4. […] So, who is to blame then?  Who can we point a finger at for Amanda Todd’s death, or really for the insidious epidemic of bullying? […]

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