Saturday, March 2, 2013


Watched "Bully" last night.  A lot of mixed feelings.  Obviously tears at the sight of parents grieving the loss of their boy who hanged himself in the face of ongoing bullying.  Relief that we don't have our boy in public school, but also the knowledge that keeping him home didn't protect him from the kids in the neighborhood who have left him friendless and alone.  Deep sadness that our boy is going to have to live with this situation for another 19 months before we can afford to get out of this place and find a better neighborhood.

And fear, of course.  Our boy isn't a great sharer of feelings, he doesn't tend to express what's going on inside, and when he tries, he tends to resort to a lot of "I don't knows" and "I'm fines."  And maybe he is fine.  Maybe his increasing temper/sensitivity issues are nothing more than a symptom of being almost 15 years old.

Or maybe he's terrifically sad and doesn't know how to express it.

The documentary itself wasn't as intense or as deep as I was led to believe it would be.  Yes, I did cry once, at the very beginning.  Yes, I teared up a couple of times.  But I saw things that were upsetting in a different way--sure, the bullies themselves were bad, especially the monsters on the school bus (who reminded me of the kids in this neighborhood.  A lot.).  But what really struck me was the crappy, ineffectual behavior of the adults who could/should be making a difference.  The cops and resource officers who were unwilling to act unless shouted into it.  And the school principal shown repeatedly?  The one who compared a child not wanting to shake hands with the kid who's been torturing him with the very bullying itself?  Seriously, telling the boy that his hesitation to shake hands with the bully was just as bad as the bullying!  And when the victim said that the bully wasn't sincere in his apology, she said, in effect, "Just like you didn't mean that handshake--you're just as bad as he is."

This same creature went on to tell another kid's parents that she'd ridden their boy's school bus, and that those kids were "good as gold."  Well no KIDDING, stupid--there was an adult authority figure on the bus observing them!  Of COURSE they were "good as gold!"  However, you have, on video, evidence that when you're NOT there, they punch, kick, stab with pencils, choke, insult, ridicule, and all-around torture that kid.

That woman should get out of education.  Immediately.

And that second boy?  The poor boy on the bus?  Someone needs to have a sit-down with his FATHER, who has done an excellent job of telling the boy that it's HIS responsibility to DO SOMETHING about the bullying or else it'll happen to his little sister, too.  In other words, "Stand up to 20 kids beating on you and torturing you or else anything that happens to your baby sister will be your fault."  Not at ALL the message to send a boy who is already dancing on the edge of suicide.

And speaking of the little sister, the parents need to stop standing by and letting her ridicule his physical appearance ("fishface!"), letting her say things like, "They're going to kill me when I get to my next grade because you're my brother.  It's already hard enough because everyone thinks you're a freak."  That's not verbatim, but it's representative.  She needs a talking to, because she's not helping that poor boy.  She's part of the torturing.

I have to say that, when the boy's mom told him that these kids are not his friends, that when they stab him with pencils and throw his books to the floor, when they hit him in the head, punch him in the back, or call him names, they aren't his pals, his response was devastating.  In a nutshell, he said, "Okay.  But if, as you say, these kids aren't my friends, then who do I have?  What friends do I have?"

The answer is "none."  You have no friends.  And oh, sweetie, my heart breaks for you just like it breaks for my own boy.

While the show was not as deep or as upsetting as I expected (and think it should  have been), I think that, for most parents of teens, it's a good one to see.

Why on earth this documentary initially pulled an "R" rating from the MPAA?  No clue.  Sure, there's one scene where a kid says the dreaded "F" word a few times (in Utah, that would be "Fetch, fetch, fetchity-fetch, fetch fetch!"), but that's about it.  And that's not worthy of an "R" rating.  Let's grow up, shall we?

Here's the related movement that's risen from the movie:

It's a lovely idea, and I totally understand the need that parents who've lost a child have to do something--ANYTHING--to make that loss make a DIFFERENCE.  That said?

I don't think it does.  I'm sorry, I don't mean to sound awful or heartless, because, believe me, I'm not those things.  Maybe I'm just beaten down and worn out and all out of hope.  But the very kids who were on those stages taking that pledge?  I have NO doubt that most of them also engage in bullying.  They may not CALL it that, they may convince themselves that this is DIFFERENT, that this particular kid or that one somehow DESERVES to be called names or threatened or isolated.  Sad reality is, if every kid who said they wouldn't bully then DIDN'T, we wouldn't have much of a problem.

For that matter, if every PARENT who said they wouldn't tolerate bullying in their child then followed through (rather than finding excuses to justify their child's behavior), we'd also not have much of a problem.

I have little faith that either kids or parents are going to do much to stop this. We're an increasingly mean country that is, more and more, turning to sarcasm, rudeness, and ridicule as sources of entertainment.

People of Walmart, anyone?  How can we possibly teach our children not to ridicule, ostracize, or otherwise bully others for who and what they are when we engage in those very behaviors every day and call it "fun?"

I don't have anything fun or happy to say today.  But, as Scarlett so aptly said, ". . . tomorrow is another day."

Do not reprint without permission. © KAQ

1 comment:

  1. I haven't seen Bully yet. I'm afraid it will push too many of my "triggers" left over from my own experiences with bullying. There is a video short that I watched recently, very artistic and poetic, about bullying. I think it was featured on Upworthy or somewhere similar. When he talks about the names he was called as a kid, and asked "what's your ___?" I had to think about it, at first I thought, well, nothing so bad that it stuck with me. Then I remembered. The one name out of all the many names I was called, that stuck. The one that pops up in my thoughts regularly, and still haunts me. I'm friends on FB with the guy that called me that, and I don't even hate him for it. I thought about mentioning it to him once, but I doubt he remembers, and I don't think he had any idea that it was so hurtful or even why it would bother me so much. It just hit a nerve. And of course there are lots and lots of other memories of bullying, toward me, toward my friends, BY me, and all of it is bad. I don't want to think about it.
    Every time my mom goes to Walmart she asks if she looks okay. I assure her she is fine, and she always says, "I don't want to end up on People of Walmart." She's really worried about it. I mean, some of the people pictured really shouldn't go out like that, but still. Maybe they can't afford decent clothing, or are mentally challenged, or just don't care how they look, so what?
    The "R" rating might have been for violence, but more likely it was the F-word. the MPAA only allows it to be said so many times before it gets an R. Silly. But I think I did read that that was the reason Bully got an R.