Amber Love 20-MAR-2012 The movie titled BULLY has made waves in advocacy for the civil right for children to feel safe in school. There’s a petition on change.org which is still shy of the 500,000 signatures of their goal. The petition was started by 17-year-old Katy Butler from Ann Arbor, Michigan. There’s a massive campaign to bring awareness to bully called The Bully Project.

FILMMAKER LEE HIRSCH

The BULLY movie project by Lee Hirsch has the support of many celebrities from Ellen DeGeneres to Dana Delany to Jeri Ryan. Because of four instances of F**K, the movie was forceably labeled by the MPAA as Rated R. “It’s real language that bullies are using,” said Ellen on her talk show. “The lessons the kids learn from this are more important than the words they might hear,” Ellen said. Ellen even expressed that she believes this movie’s lessons could save lives. The reason why is because of the increasing accounts of suicide and suicide attempts by young people who feel their lives aren’t worth anything.

“I think it’s important that the movie is rated PG-13.” ~ELLEN

Many of the movie’s fans and parents across the country want this rating changed to PG-13 so that schools can legally show it if they want to. The Weinsten Company’s production notes indicate that the film was always intended to have a PG-13 rating.

It’s difficult to see that pranks and mischief can be a part of anyone’s life growing up. Most people get through it and turn out fine, perhaps stronger. In today’s 2.0 world, there is too much connection. The same places online that give people a network for reaching out for solace and comfort are the same networks that are home to scathing comments. FACEBOOK, for example, is frequently the subject of online harassment and it’s not something that only happens to children under the age of 18. It seems unlikely that an adult will confess to being bullied but rather would use the more litigious term, “harassed.” Facebook’s section on bully is brief and can be found under their policies on reporting abuse. In a nutshell, it advises: Unfriend, Block, or Report Abuse.

PRODUCTION NOTES FROM THE BULLY PROJECT:

SYNOPSIS
Over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation.  The new documentary film BULLY, directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch, brings human scale to this startling statistic, offering an intimate, unflinching look at how bullying has touched five kids and their families.

BULLY is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of America’s bullying crisis.  Filmed over the course of the 2009/2010 school year, BULLY opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders.   It documents the responses of teachers and administrators to aggressive behaviors that defy “kids will be kids” clichés, and it captures a growing movement among parents and youths to change how bullying is handled in schools, in communities and in society as a whole.

THE STORIES

Alex, 12
For 12-year-old Alex of Sioux City, Iowa, the slurs, curses and threats begin before he even boards the school bus.  A sweet-natured kid just starting middle school and wanting more than anything to fit in, Alex assures his worried parents that the kids who taunt and hit him are only “messing with him.”  But bullying has trailed Alex thorough life like a shadow, and as his seventh grade year unfolds, the bullying only escalates.

Kelby, 16
Since 16-year-old Kelby came out as a lesbian, she and her family have been treated as pariahs in their small town of Tuttle, Oklahoma.  The onetime all-star athlete, Kelby has faced an outpouring of hatred from classmates as well as teachers, and has been forced to leave her sports teams by attacks.  Refusing her parents’ offers to leave Tuttle, the gutsy teenager is bolstered by her adoring girlfriend and a few staunch friends, resolving to stay in her town and change a few minds.

Ja’Meya, 14
In Yazoo County, Mississippi, 14-year-old Ja’Meya was picked on every morning and afternoon of the hour-long bus ride between home and school.  On the morning of September 1st, the quiet, unassuming girl had had enough and brandished a loaded handgun she’d taken from her mother’s closet to scare off her tormentors. Incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility and charged with multiple felony counts, Ja’Meya fearfully awaits the outcome of her case, supported by her loving mother.

David and Tina Long
In October 2009, 17-year-old Tyler Long of Murray County, Georgia, hanged himself after years of abuse at the hands of his classmates and indifference from school officials.  As his parents, David and Tina Long, mourn the loss of the son they tried to protect, and demand accountability from the school that failed him so miserably, his death has sparked a war in a community forced to face its bullying demons.

Kirk and Laura Smalley
Following the bullying-related suicide of their 11 year-old son, Kirk and Laura Smalley are determined to prevent other children from suffering Ty’s fate. As schools around the country prepare for the start of a new academic year, Kirk launches an anti-bullying organization, Stand for the Silent, coordinating a series of vigils that underscore the high stakes of America’s bullying crisis.