Bully

Recently while scrolling through Netflix, I found a movie I had been wanting to see for a while, the award winning documentary Bully. I first heard about the film when it started making the press rounds last year because people were trying to lower the rating from R to PG-13 so that more children would be allowed to view it. The film directed by Lee Hirsh was originally released in 2011 and follows the lives of several young kids that were being pretty severely bullied in school. 
This is my badge from The Bully Project site.
The site gives kids an opportunity to take a pledge to not Bully others and to stand up for those who are being bullied. The site states they will reach 1 million kids this year. 
The bullying in the film was pretty intense and as a mom and a former educator it was difficult to watch most scenes. The scenes where kids were being physically abused while sitting on the school bus or walking down the hall, were hard to watch. But the most difficult for me had to have been when a mother described the morning her son's body was found by his brother after he committed suicide because he had been so badly bullied at school.  

The film made me feel uncomfortable, which is always a sign of a good documentary. The mothers of these children had no idea how badly their children were being bullied and to what extent. Once the filmmakers and producers witnessed the danger that one of the kids was in on the school bus, they decided to show his mother the footage for his own safety. The other tough aspect to the film, was that the teachers and principals felt as though their hands were tied. They felt they did everything in their power to protect these kids, but I don't think that was true. There should have been harsher punishments or consequences for the bullies. It is not okay to brush it off and say, "Boys will be boys." Not anymore, especially when we are in a world where victims of bullying feel that bringing a weapon to school can solve their problems, and innocent children are being killed.

Personally, I don't remember witnessing overt acts of bullying growing up. I may have been too busy in high school to notice, which makes me sad for the kids that were being bullied. That means I didn't notice them. I didn't bully them, but I also didn't notice them being treated so poorly. Growing up in East Los Angeles in a predominantly Mexican community bullying may have been an issue, but the answer was always fighting. It may not seem like the best solution, but in a community where fathers bleed machismo and mother's most often say, "aye, just don't let your dad find out," that really was the best choice.   

I recommend that this film be watched by kids as young as Junior High School and all through High School  those are some of the cruelest years and, although some kids may be too immature to handle the language or actions in this film, for some kids it may open their eyes. We are raising the next generation in such a difficult world, I think the film Bully can be used as a tool to encourage parents and teachers to talk to kids about the effect that words and actions have on people. 

 Recently, my neighborhood Facebook page Our Town El Sereno shared a link to a video titled "If you only knew" it shows various students making the point that you never know what people are going through and that harsh words can hurt. The video was made with students from my former high school, Woodrow Wilson High School in East Los Angeles. Thank you to Joey Faraon who created such a cool video and allowing me to share it with my readers.