March 25, 2013 at 11:32 am | Posted in 2012 | Leave a comment
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DVD.  I finally got around to seeing this documentary.  With all the buzz it received, I really felt like I had to see it but I kept putting it off; who’s ever “in the mood” to see a movie about real kids getting picked on?  Well, I was right to think it was going to be hard to watch.  There were times when my chest was tight and I had to get up and walk away from the screen for a moment.  I think anyone with any compassion will find this film heartbreaking.  We meet several picked on kids including a very awkward boy, who probably has Asperger’s, and an FTM transgendered boy.  We also meet two sets of parents whose son’s committed suicide because of bullying.  They are brave but they are broken people and watching them was devastating.  What was remarkable was to see how honest everyone was on camera: bullies kept on bullying, kids and parents went on complaining and school officials went on making unbelievable excuses.  It was as though nobody thought the cameras mattered.  I must say that I do feel more empathy for both the bullies and the school officials than this film allows.  Everyone is caught in a broken system that limits districts’ options and allows chaotic kids to continue to lash out because there is no boundary to help them contain themselves; nobody wins and nobody is happy (including the bullies).  Can something be done within these schools?  Yes, of course, but I think it takes a very strong personality who is willing to be hated by everyone (kids, parents, their bosses) to transform an individual school (they make movies out of people like that).  Unfortunately, I think it is unrealistic to expect your everyday teacher, principal or superintendent to be that person.   Real change will come only if there is a systemic shift.  In the meantime, I think anyone with kids in or going into middle or high school should watch this documentary, as painful as it is and, if they suspect for one moment their child is a bully, they should make that child watch it too.  Bullies are not heartless; they just need somebody to help them find the strength to address why they bully.


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