Last month I wrote a post about the documentary ‘Bully.’ At the time, the movie had been given an R-rating and was the topic of many conversations. On April 5th, it was announced that the MPAA granted ‘Bully’ a PG-13 rating without requiring filmmakers to sacrifice significant content. This wise decision will allow this movie to be viewed by its intended audience – adolescents and teenagers in schools.
Following my initial post, a reader contacted a friend at The Weinstein Company – the film studio behind the documentary – who generously offered to send out an advance copy of the film for a prescreening. This opportunity was then brought to us at The Sanford Harmony Program, and in 5 short days we rallied a group of teachers, administrators, parents, grandparents, professors, researchers, university students and other community members to join us in previewing this powerful documentary.
Since one of the intentions of this film was to give a voice to the victims of bullying who so often go unheard, ‘Bully’ presents a raw look at this type of physical and emotional abuse without offering commentary, analysis or very many solutions. The emotions that were stirred by witnessing acts of bullying from this perspective were profound, and this experience inspired a tremendous amount of dialogue and critical thinking in regards to enhancing peer relationships and making schools safer spaces.
The impact of this event has been overwhelming, and the discussions that have followed have been incredibly thought provoking. Every single day for the last two weeks I have been involved in conversations sparked by this film. Teachers, administrators and parents at my children’s school are stopping at drop-off and pick-up to talk about it. Friends, former coworkers and acquaintances are emailing and texting their thoughts on the movie. Each day at work the topic of bullying and its various forms (physical, verbal, emotional, relational) are discussed in our offices and at lunch.
People are talking, and they’re talking about….
- the need to prevent bullying behaviors as early as possible
- the importance of empowering kids to standup for themselves
- the role of the bystander
- ways to encourage kids to be upstanders
- the responsibility of the schools in creating inclusive and safe learning environments
- the role of parents, teachers, administrator, and peers
People are asking questions, and they want to know …
- why kids bully in the first place
- how to help victims
- why anti-bullying curricula and policies are only having marginal effects
- why it’s so difficult for adults – in schools and at home – to find the words to deal with bullying
- how we can change the norms of behavior
- how we can improve relationships in schools
People are inspired, and they want to affect change. Motivated by the success of our ‘Bully’ event, we are planning future gatherings within our community to continue looking at ways to improve peer relationships.
‘Bully’ may not provide many answers or solutions, but it certainly serves as a very important catalyst for change, engaging us all on such an important topic – helping kids to grow-up safe, happy, supported, and known. We hope to see you at our upcoming events in the Phoenix area and hear from you on this blog and on Facebook. Let’s keep the conversation going and work towards making change happen.