Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bully: The movie and it's message

Teenzilla and I went and saw the movie Bully today.  I want children to see this movie. I want educators to see this movie. I want parents to see this movie WITH their children... and to TALK about it.

I am sure most of you heard the controversy over the initial "R" rating- the word "fuck" is used 3 times in the beginning- and that is it. Now it has a PG-13 rating and I hope that middle and high schools around the country will show this film to their students and administrators.  Yes-the talk of suicide is disturbing- but not as disturbing as the fact that these CHILDREN are taking their own lives

Lee Hirsch's film  follows five families whose lives are irrevocably changed when their child becomes the victim of school bullies. The movie follows two families who lost their sons (ages 17 and 11) to suicide because they just couldn’t take the bullying anymore. Tyler Long, a 17 year old boy with Asperger's who hung himself after years of abuse when school administrators and law enforcement turned a blind eye, despite all of his parents efforts.(They unfortunately do not talk about his Asperger's in the movie) And Ty Smalley, an 11 year old who also committed suicide as a result of years of bullying. Kirk and Laura Smalley started Stand for the Silent- dedicated to stopping more children from taking their own lives because of bullies.

Then we meet  14-year old Ja'Meya who is living in a juvenile detention facility while she waits for the courts to decide her fate, after taking a handgun she found hidden at home on the school bus to try to exert power and intimidation over the ones tormenting her. 

We also meet  13-year old Alex Libby, a young man who is punched, hit, threatened, and called ugly names on the school bus and  at school. Repeatedly seeing all of the adults in his life fail to help him- his parents, the bus driver, the assistant principal and even the guidance counselor. It is absolutely heartbreaking to watch- and it had Teenzilla and I in tears- just wanting to reach out to this young man.

Then there is Kelby- the 16 year old girl who came out as a lesbian and endured not only students but TEACHERS mocking her,  and was forced to quit her basketball team, and even had a group of students HIT her driving their mother's mini van. 

I was pissed  at the Assistant Principals who do nothing, and actually make THE VICTIMS feel bad!  Superintendents who talk the talk but don't act to stop a problem... or worse.. deny there is a problem! I was livid listening to some of the political bullshit doublespeak- and seeing the helplessness on these parents faces.  I cried, and wanted to reach out to the kids who were living this hell every day, and cried more when I thought of how this could be my child. 

This movie was about as raw and real as you can get.  No special effects, no actors, no "interviews", just REAL life. And when thinking about how this was just a tiny sampling of schools and families- I can't even begin to wrap my mind around the hundreds of thousands of other schools, here and across the globe- and how many kids are being tormented daily with NO help from those who are supposed to be keeping them safe.

Bullying is an issue that has always been there but now seems to be coming more prevalent. In this age of social media students can be tormented and bullied more easily  than ever before. Bullying is not always physical fighting, outward bruises and physical injury. It goes so much deeper- taunts, and name calling, and threats that occur on a daily basis- these are the scars that last- and that build to destroy a child.  .

Many kids feel their cries for help are not being heard. There needs to be better education for students, teachers and their parents so these kids can be helped. 


Ty Smalley

Ja'Meya Jackson

Tyler Long

Kelby Johnson

Alex Libby