Bully Netflix Documentary
Filmmaker Lee Hirsch examines five cases of youths who endure vicious persecution at the hands of their peers. Ja’meye, 14, winds up in reform school after pulling a gun on the youths who tormented her for years. Cameras record the abuse suffered by 14-year-old Alex as he’s beaten and teased on the bus. Star athlete Kelby, 16, is ostracized and worse after she comes out as lesbian. Most tragic of all, two boys, one 17 and one 12, commit suicide to escape the torture.
Release date: April 13, 2012 (USA)
Director: Lee Hirsch
“Everything starts with one.”
This documentary takes an honest look at bullying. We meet five young people and their families who are victims of bullying. Sadly, two of the individuals we meet died by suicide due to the torment they suffered daily.
We hear the stories from the individuals themselves and their families. We hear from the school administrators, and devastatingly we see actual footage of one participant being bullied.
This documentary is heartbreaking, infuriating, and the unfortunate reality of what is happening far too often. The most annoying aspect of this film is the meetings with administrators, the town hall meetings, the conversations with police departments who all claim there is no problem. That “things aren’t that bad,” and “all kids get teased,” or “we can’t be responsible for what kids do while in our care.”
We see parents sitting down with administrators begging for help, demanding answers, and seeking guidance and protection for their child- only to be told that there isn’t a bullying problem or there is nothing to be done.
The absolute lack of awareness and lack of concern is insane. We see one of the young men getting repeatedly assaulted while on the school bus, and no one does anything. This young man is choked, stabbed with pencils, hit, and verbally threatened with death, and no one does anything. The bus driver just keeps driving- the other students just look on or disgustingly participate.
This is so far beyond “teasing,” and this is not normal. This is not to be expected. This will not build character. This is not boys will be boys. This is not fight back. This is not okay.
The parents of the two young men who died have found a tragic new mission and have made taking a stand against bullying and those in power who turn a blind eye. Their mission has united so many families, which is devastating to hear about how many families have lost a loved one due to bullying.
As the auntie to four kiddos (girl 12, girl 6, girl 5, and boy 2), I am terrified to think they could potentially be the victim of bullying. And also scared they could be someone’s bully. We all have to do better. Make the effort to communicate with our kids- regardless of our role in their life. And hold people accountable for their actions. If your child or loved one is being bullied, listen. Speak up. Take a stand and refuse to be placated. If your child or loved one is a bully, address it. Do not brush it off, do not attempt to normalize the behavior.
We are responsible for helping young people grow into decent humans. Listen. Have the difficult conversations. And be nice; we truly never know what someone is going through. Be a friend, be an advocate, and be the change you want to see in the world.
The change starts with us, right now, today.