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Movie Tackles Bullying, Raises Awareness

Should you take the kids to see the film "Bully?"

Last year, for Mother's Day, this mom's choice was to take advantage of "MY DAY" and force my husband and children to sit through one of my favorite movies of all time:  Gone With the Wind. It went over like a lead balloon.  This weekend, I am hopeful to see a film we truly all enjoy.

As a mom and movie buff, I recently felt it my social and cinematic responsibility to see the documentary movie "Bully," currently in theaters.

My original plan was to definitely take my kids with me to see it.  The controversy regarding the rating from the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), however, caused me to hesitate.

The MPAA gave the movie a PG-13 rating, which many supporters of the film objected to.  The filmmakers were hoping that parents would take their children to see Bully, but felt the PG-13 rating would discourage parents.  The PG-13 rating was due to violence.  Ultimately the movie was released "Unrated;" without any MPAA rating whatsoever.

If you haven't heard of it, Bully, or The Bully Project, is a documentary made to raise awareness to bullying in schools.

Local news has been covering this topic, both the film and the movement.  KSDK has been soliciting videos from area students about bullying in schools.

I ended up seeing the film without the kids.  I was concerned about the heaviness of the topic and also the violence.

The movie covers five individual's stories of bullying, filmed during the 2009-2010 school year.  Tragically, two of the five of the kids in the movie committed suicide.  One of them was 17 years old; the other, 11.

The most violent scenes in the film show coverage of 12 year old Alex being repeatedly bullied on a school bus.  So much so that the production company actually showed the family and the school the footage because it was so disturbing.

The movie frequently documents teachers and administrators stating the attitude, basically, that "kids will be kids."  There also seemed to be a disconnect in the school communication with families in that when action was taken, the bullied student was not aware of it.

I, too, have seen such a disconnect in schools as I have grown from a student to a parent.  However, being raised by an educator, I know that schools struggle with walking a very fine line of being open and honest, and also respecting confidentiality of students involved.

When I told a friend I had seen the movie, her first words were, "I heard it offers no solutions."  True.  Those exact words were ringing in my head during the film.  The point of the film is not to offer solutions, but uncover these stories for all to see, to educate, and motivate people to act.

I have asked my own kids several times if they have witnessed bullying in their schools.  They have repeatedly said no.  A quote was, "No bullying, sometimes stupid fighting, but not bullying."

I am letting my kids decide whether or not they want to see the film.  On a lighter note, I did decide it was finally time to watch another of my favorite movies with them: the Ron Howard directed film, "Parenthood." Parenthood stars Steve Martin, Dianne Wiest, the late and great Jason Robards, among others.  The PG-13 rating did not deter me, as both my kids are aged 13 and higher.  However, while watching the movie, I had to stop to double-check the rating on the box, because there were so many more sexual innuendos in it than I remembered!  My youngest, who is well-versed in the extremely adult-themed animated show, The Family Guy, even spoke up at how racy Parenthood was.  At that moment, I really did see how arbitrary the MPAA ratings can seem.

Should you see the film Bully? And take the kids?  I suggest, if you are interested, previewing it, and then deciding.  No matter what, the film makes it's point in presenting these families' stories.

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