In America, 1 out of 4 teens are bullied; 3 out of 5 kids say they have participated in bullying, and suicide still remains the leading cause of death in children under 14. These frightening statistics were shown in a documentary made by Lee Hirsch called,“Bully.” This eye opening film exposes the detrimental effects of bullying on the youth of America.
The movie starts off with the story of Tyler Long who took his life in 2009 after continuously being shoved into lockers, verbally abused, and jumped in the locker room. Tyler had Asperger’s Syndrome, which made him a prime target for abuse. Long’s story had people tearing after a mere thirty seconds of Tyler’s dad recalling the tragic events that occurred. During the interview, home videos helped the audience connect emotionally along with understand Tyler’s true personality. Ever since Tyler Long took his life, the Longs have turned their tragedy into a movement. The Longs have taken a stand to eliminate bullying in the schools by making guests appearances in order to reach students across the nation and raise awareness about the serious issue of bullying.
The movie also focuses on the story of 12 year old, Alex Libby, who was constantly bombarded with threats and physical abuse on his bus. The movie paints a picture of Alex as responsible, smart and a loving brother, as well as a tortured, emotionless boy. Though the actual act of bullying angered the audience, they were more outraged by the ignorance and obtuseness of the school administrators. Alex’s assistant principle believed that the kids on Alex’s bus were “little angels”, which made the audience want to physically jump through the screen to help the young boy.
The movie’s rating also brought up much controversy. Originally the movie received an R-rating by the MPAA or the Motion Picture Association of America due to the use of the f-word and other language. Several people believed this was wrong agreeing that if the movie is rated R, the main target audience would not be able to view the movie. Katy Butler of Ann Arbor, Michigan, who was one of the people outraged by the MPAA’s decision created the Change.org online petition to the CEO of MPAA and collected 300,000 signatures in order to lower the rating. Eventually, in April, the MPAA agreed to lower the rating to PG-13 despite the fact that not all of the inappropriate words were blurred out.
A child is bullied every seven minutes and with peer intervention occurring eleven percent of the time, adult intervention occurring only four percent of the time, and eighty-five percent of no intervention is a problem. This movie is a movement against bullying and is able to give a voice to the silent. Despite a couple road bumps like the rating of the movie, the film was able to place a face to victims of bullying as well as allow kids such as Alex and Tyler to be heard.