The latest film “Bully” directed by Lee Hirsch is an 'it is time to speak out' documentary. It is a provocative and very important film about a subject that is currently creating a lot of uproar worldwide. Bullying is a universal problem that affects many. Bullying can occur in schools, at work and even on the Internet (cyber bullying). It transcends all borders including geographic, racial, ethnic and social standing. As well, it can have a devastating effect on those who have been victimized. It has led many to isolate themselves from society for fear of being bullied. Some commit suicide (called bullycide); others become bullies or lash out violently, usually out of vengeance. The victims tend to be social outcasts, unable to fit in, while the bully is often an insecure individual who feels he / she has to 'prove' something. Deep down the bully feels threatened by his / her victim.
Bullying has been around since the dawn of man but due to today's technological advances in communications the effects can be more devastating often due to postings on social networks such as Facebook and YouTube.
This very important documentary, which in my mind should be viewed by all (unfortunately it received an ‘R’ rating in the United States which means that the audience to which it is mainly directed, youth under 17 will not be able to see it), follows the stories of five high school students who are (or were) victims of bullying, the affect on themselves and their families. It also documents the responses of teachers, administrators, law enforcement, the community and society as a whole. It is time to stand up and decry this form of violence and realize that the cliché "kids will be kids" is passé, worn out and downright dangerous.
The five stories are:
Alex 12 from Sioux City Iowa, who must endure slurs, curses and threats while traveling on the bus to and from school. He tells his parents they are his friends and that they are just ‘messing around’ as he is so desperate to fit in.
Ja’Meya 14 from Yazoo County Mississippi had to endure being picked on every day, morning and afternoon on the one hour bus ride to and from school. On the first day of September she had had enough. The quiet and unassuming Ja’Meya took her mother’s handgun in an attempt to scare those who were tormenting her. She was subsequently charged with multiple felonies.
David and Tina Long, of Murray County Georgia, are grieving. Their 17-year-old son Tyler hanged himself after years of enduring abusive behaviour towards him. They feel guilt at being unable to protect and anger towards the schooling system that failed miserably in providing him with a safe haven.
After 11-year-old Ty Smalley committed suicide due to bullying, his parents Kirk and Laura launched an anti-bullying organization called “Stand for the Silent.”
We all need to get involved and shout out loud “BULLYING HAS TO STOP.”