On Wednesday, February 19, 2020, Napoleon Junior High and High School students in grades 7-12 will be learning about a variety of mental health issues, coping strategies, and attending sessions that focus on a multitude of these concerns. One of the sessions includes viewing the educational documentary “Bully.” Information and reviews from commonsensemedia.org are included so that you may review this information prior to the date. Please also feel free to visit this website and read additional reviews. All students will be viewing this documentary in small groups of less than 30 students per room with an adult always present.
Due to the information presented in the documentary, parents should contact Heidi Mekus, School Counselor at Napoleon High School if you do NOT want your child to view this content. Contact should be made by phone or email by Monday, February 17, 2020.
Phone: 419-599-1050 Email: email@example.com
WHAT'S THE STORY?
BULLY takes a frank, head-on look at the bullying epidemic happening in America's middle and high schools. It profiles several young victims -- including Alex, a 12-year-old in Sioux City, Iowa, who endures merciless teasing and physical abuse on the school bus every day, and Kelby, a 16-year-old in Tuttle, Okla., who has been ostracized and attacked ever since coming out as a lesbian. In telling their stories and others, Bully explores the full range of bullying's impact on kids, their families, and their communities, from the devastation of teen suicide to frustrated parents getting nowhere with school administrators. And, more than anything, it encourages teens to make a difference -- to stand up against bullying instead of standing by.
IS IT ANY GOOD?
This documentary is heartbreaking, moving, infuriating, and indisputably essential viewing for middle- and high-schoolers and their parents. It's impossible not to be affected by the stories of these tweens and teens; you'll tear up when Tyler Long's parents recount what drove their 17-year-old firstborn to suicide, and you'll want to scream at the administrator who downplays Alex's parents' concerns when they come in to talk about how to keep their son safe on his way to and from school. Particularly chilling is the story of 14-year-old Ja'Meya, who ended up brandishing a gun at her bullies when she felt pushed to the edge of her endurance. No one was hurt, but the fact that she even considered that as a response to her situation shows you just how much pain some kids are in every day.
Bully is a little bit on the slow side for teens (and it might have been a better fit for school viewing at an hour's length), but it's also extremely relevant and relatable. It's gritty, but that very grittiness is what gives it the power to hook teens in and open their eyes to what's probably going on around them every day. And that, in turn, could help convince kids that they really do have the power to make a difference.
WHAT PARENTS NEED TO KNOW
Parents need to know that Bully is a no-holds-barred documentary that intimately portrays bullying victims' daily lives. While it's often heartbreaking and deals with tough issues like suicide, the movie addresses an incredibly important, timely topic -- bullying -- in a frank, relatable way that's age appropriate for teens and relevant for middle schoolers if an adult is present to guide discussion. Bully's strong language (including a brutal, profanity-laden scene in which one boy says to another that he'll "shove a broomstick up your a--" and "cut your face off and s--t") initially earned it an R rating from the MPAA -- a rating that the production company chose not to accept, officially releasing the film as unrated. But none of the swearing is gratuitous. Like it or not, it's a realistic portrayal of what every middle schooler and older hears every day. This gives the film veracity and credibility with kids, and it will justifiably shock parents.
Bully's most challenging material isn't just the language, but the suicides. Seeing grieving parents and friends could potentially be upsetting to teens and preteens, so they should definitely watch with adults. Bully also addresses the concepts of cutting, physical abuse, and more, but in a way that presents the consequences as well as the behavior itself. Victims' parents are generally portrayed as supportive and loving, while school administrators come off in a much less positive light. Ultimately, Bully encourages kids to stand up to bullies, not stand by, and reinforces the fact that everyone can make a difference when it comes to this essential issue.
In theaters: March 30, 2012
On DVD or streaming: February 12, 2013
Director: Lee Hirsch: Lee Hirsch
Studio: Weinstein Co.
Topics: High School, Misfits, and Underdogs
Character Strengths: Compassion, Courage, Empathy, Integrity
Run time: 94 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
MPAA explanation: intense thematic material, disturbing content, and some strong language -- all involving kids (initially rated R for some language)
Last updated: September 21, 2019