Name-calling, physical abuse, and blank stares from the people who are supposed to be protecting you. Unfortunately, for many kids, it’s just another day at school.
Bullying is a huge problem in the United States, with some sources estimating that 13 million children will be bullied this year. And yet, many parents and school administrators continue to dismiss this issue, writing it off as “kids just being kids.”
Hoping to call attention to the problem, director Lee Hirsch made Bully, a documentary about a year in the lives of students affected by bullying. Hirsch traveled to Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Iowa and Oklahoma, interviewing students who had firsthand experience with being mocked, ignored and physically injured by their classmates. Having endured childhood bullying himself, Hirsch wanted to create a platform for bullied kids to share their stories.
Although initially given an R rating, an online protest and some language edits earned Bully a PG-13 rating. Here are some thought-provoking discussion questions about the film, taken from the New York Times’ Learning Network:
1) Do you agree with the statement, “There is no such thing as an innocent bystander when it comes to bullying”?
2) How can the use of social media contribute to bullying?
3) Can empathy be taught?
4) How can adults — often unwittingly — contribute to the problem of bullying?
5) What can be done to make schools safer and more inclusive?