Last weekend, the movie Bully opened in select theaters around the country, and already the film is generating conversation, buzz and controversy among communities.
First rated R for its language and then toned down to PG-13, the movie follows five different kids throughout a school year as they endure different aspects of bullying and share their stories. Two families struggle to come to terms with a child’s suicide, the fallout of repeated bullying. Another mother wrestles with her 14-year-old daughter’s incarceration after the girl brought a gun on a school bus. The movie provides a realistic glimpse into classrooms, cafeterias, playgrounds and the offices of school administration and brings to the table this very pressing and timely subject.
Statistics show that 18 million kids around the country are bullied each year. Though kids have no doubt been bullied since the beginning of time, the issue seems more prevalent these days.
Celebrities like Ellen Degeneres frequently discuss it and talk about being kind to our peers, while other big name figures engage in anti-bullying campaigns to put a stop to these senseless acts. Bullying, we’ve learned, isn’t just the “kid beating up another kid on the playground” scenario, but can also come in the form of verbal abuse, such as a child being perpetually taunted every day in class.
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Then there’s also the issue of Cyberbullying, which has gained just as much attention with kids cruelly crushing their peers on Facebook and other social media sites. Many bullying victims hide their scars from their parents until, as in the case of several tragedies, it’s too late. And a few parents, like the mother in the movie, find themselves on the other end of the spectrum, wondering how they could have been so blind to their child’s bullying behavior.
One thing is for sure: bullying is no joke, and I’m glad movies like Bully are addressing it so candidly.
Growing up, my mother always said to me, “A bully is someone who doesn’t feel good about himself so he makes other people feel bad.” I remembered this through the years, even as I entered into junior high and was taunted in the halls for being too short. But the words stung and stuck with me into adulthood, and though I never took a beating physically, the hurt remained just the same.
As a mother myself now, I stick with my motto that “Hurt people hurt.” Bullies are hurt kids crying out for attention, but in the wake of their actions, they hurt others as well. Some of those kids go on to hurt their peers, continuing the vicious cycle, while others, like those in the movie, tragically look for a way out by ending their lives.
So while anti-bullying campaigns and movies like Bully are a good start, I still believe we have to get to the root of the issue: Why do kids hurt other kids? Are they hurting at home? Are they lonely? Are they angry? Are they struggling in school? There’s usually more going on beyond those hardened eyes, slumped shoulders and ugly glares.
Moms, have your kids ever been a victim of bullying? What did you do, how did you handle it?
On the other end, have you ever discovered your child was the bully? Were you able to remedy the situation?
And went it comes to this subject, do you think schools are doing enough to address it? Will you go see the movie Bully and discuss it with your kids?