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"Bully" — The Controversy and the Bottom Line

Bully by Lee HirschThe powerful new documentary, Bully, by award-winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch, continues to be surrounded by controversy. First, the profanity spewed by some of the bullies in the film caused the MPAA to give it an R rating, taking away its accessibility to the kids who really need to see it (a decision which has since been overturned and the rating changed to a more accurate PG-13). Most recently, the movie has been accused of oversimplifying and distorting the problem.

I’m here to tell you that neither one of those issues detract from the core message of the movie or should prevent you – or your children – from seeing it.

An astonishing thirteen million children are bullied each year in the U.S. alone. And what’s most shocking about this movie is not just the horrifying way the bullies treat their victims – it’s the dismissive attitude of the adults in charge. Children have an inalienable right to feel safe at school and on the school bus, and it’s up to the grown-ups to make sure they are. It’s not okay to brush off bullying as simply “kids will be kids.” Bus drivers need to pull over when they see a child being bullied. Teachers and principals need to punish those doing the bullying rather than tell the victims to “stay away from them.”

It’s time for adults to be accountable, and for kids to stand up for their peers. In our litigious society, people are afraid to get involved even when they know someone is suffering. Where does that leave children who are being bullied, physically and verbally, every single day?

Take your family to see Bully, discuss it and get involved in The Bully Project. It’s time to make a change. Our children’s lives depend on it.

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.com.


  1. Thank you so much for bringing this movie to my attention. I can’t wait to see it. Not only am I a teacher, but a mom whose daughter is verbally and passively bullied daily by one child. As a teacher I will not tolerate any form of bullying and I am lucky because I work at a school where the principal backs me 100 percent. She is totally involved in dealing with bullies. What is difficult for me is my daughter’s situation. The bully appears sweet and nice , but for some reason she has chosen my daughter to be the victim of her cruel words and comments. These range from putting down her physical and academic abilities, to our family’s financial situation. Interestingly my daughter has tons of friends, is right in the middle of the pack academically, but now doubts herself because of this one girl. I’ve made the teacher and administration aware, but because of the crafty way this child delivers the words, it’s not always observable. I’ve called the parents, but nothing changes. I’m at my wits end! Meanwhile my daughter suffers as I try to equip her (she’s 10) with the tools to deal and understand what is going on. Sigh…

  2. charlotte olson says:

    Today I attended a workshop on bullying and was pretty disappointed by the focus of the kids who were bullies being looked at like victims. I have taught senior high kids considered violent and agresssive for of 21 years and have witnessed the excuses for bad behavior and victimization of kids who are making choices to hurt others increase tenfold. More and more it becomes an issue of seeing a child as different from the seconnd the start school at age five. Survival of the fittest. A school district in my state redcently lost a lawsuit because of the treatment of gay and lesbian students. Teachers are still working in that district that called kids faggots and made them scapegoats in their classroom…a number of these kids killed themselves…but in the workshop today we were told not to blame the suicides on bullying….hmmmm…blame the victims mental illness instead. Society isnt going to change until behavior like this isnt tolerated…at all…ever….

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