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Bully: A Documentary

(Alex, 12 years old from Sioux City, Iowa is bullied at the bus stop, on the bus, and at school all day)

One of the least discussed topics in society is also one of the biggest problems affecting more than 13 million teenagers. bullying.

When the Weinstein Company went to release “Bully”, it received an R rating from the MPAA, which sparked even more controversy over the film and topic.  It was hard for people to understand how the MPAA could give an R rating to a movie about children and teens, when they are the targeted audience. Thus, a petition for change started.  Katy Butler created a petition to get the rating lowered, and it was signed by over 500,000 people. The MPAA decided to give the film a PG-13 rating.  Katy Butler’s fight was just one battle won in the fight to end bullying.

Even celebrities are joining the fight to end bullying.  Justin Bieber supports the fight by letting the film use his song“Born to be Somebody,” in TV ads.  Ellen urged her viewers to sign the petition that Katy created.  Extreme Home Makeover built the Walker Family a new home after the family lost Carl, 11, from suicide after he couldn’t take the bullying at school.  Cody Simpson is a spokesperson for Defeat the Label (www.defeatthelabel.com) which promotes a bully-free society without social labels and stereotypes.

So after all of this, I finally went to go see the movie that sparked so much debate. Bully follows 3 teens and 2 families whose children committed suicide because they were bullied.

Alex, a 12-year-old from Sioux City, Iowa is called names, pushed, shoved, poked with pencils, and even strangled.  Most of the bullying occurs in scenes on the school bus but Alex doesn’t complain. He just thinks that the kids are “messing with him.” At one point in the movie, he tells his dad that he almost doesn’tfeel anything anymore when he’s hit and shoved. The fact is, Alex has become numb to the bullying and isn’t sure how to make a change.  His parents and administrators don’t realize how bad it is until the filmmakers have to step in because the bus has become too dangerous for Alex.

Kelby, a 16-year-old girl, from Oklahoma, has recently come out to her family and friends.  Her and her family become outcasts within the town and not only is Kelby bullied by the kids in school, but the teachers have also shown hatred towards her.  However, Kelby’s story is inspiring. She wants to believe that it only takes one person to stand up and make a change.  While she may not see the results of hard work, she has also learned that you can’t make such a giant change in society without a little help.  You need people in all different stages of life to help in the fight to end bullying.

Ja’Meya, a 14-year-old girl from Mississippi was bullied so much, that one day she took her mom’s gun to school with her and pointed it at the bullies on the bus.  While she never shot anyone, she was arrested and put into juvenile detention. Her story follows her time in the juvenile detention center as well as the outcome of her trials. All of her charges were eventually dropped.  One can only hope that she will solve her problems without violence next time.

Lastly, The film also follows two families, the Longs and the Smalleys, that lost their children to bullying.  Kirk Smalley’s 11-year-old son committed suicide after he couldn’t take being bullied anymore.   Kirk is now on a fight to end bullying.  In the movie he says, “I will never stop fighting against bullying because my son will always be 11 years old.” David  Long lost his 17-year-old to bullying as well. In the movie, they show him and his wife leading a town hall meeting to discuss this issue.  Members from the school district and high school were invited to participate but no one showed up to represent them.

So you’re probably wondering, what can we do next? Those of us who haven’t seen the movie should take the time to watch it so we can be made aware of how big of an issue it truly is. Then, on May 4, 2012, you can take a stand and participate in “Stand 4 Change Against Bullying 2012.”  Students and teachers all across America will stand for 5 minutes united against bullying.
For more info and to register your school, check out http://stand4change.org/

-Katie @kdubbs89