‘Bully’ Movie Controversy: What Makes a Bully?

‘Bully’ Movie Controversy: What Makes a Bully?

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According to many critics, the new documentary film “Bully” is a powerful, sad record of what happens when school bullying goes unchecked. Its creators, the people behind The Bully Project, hoped that the film would receive a PG or PG-13 rating in the United States, presumably so that both its message and its profits might be maximized. But the Motion Picture Association of America, led by former senator Chris Dodd, gave the film an R rating, thereby ensuring that most of its target audience will not be able to view the film without being accompanied by a parent or guardian. In response, the Weinstein Company, the film’s distributor, has announced plans to release the film without a rating. All the controversy about the film is shedding an even brighter light on the problem of bullying—with more and more parents, teachers, and teens wanting to understand why kids resort to bullying, and how to stop it.

It’s not just a face-to-face problem.
In former juvenile court judge Thomas A. Jacobs’s opinion, cyberbullying has the potential to be just as damaging as in-person bullying—if not more so. “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated” examines the different ways in which teenagers harass one other via electronic methods—texting, IMing, Facebooking, tweeting, leaving malicious voicemails, sending harmful emails, even creating websites to humiliate or terrify a specific target.

Mean girls can be as aggressive as bad boys.
Girls will be girls—and sometimes that means being terribly cruel. In “Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change,” author Bonnie Burton takes on the peculiar art—and science—of girl-on-girl bullying. She discusses studies that may give clues as to why girls engage in certain negative, competitive behaviors, and offers practical wisdom from professional athletes, entertainers and other stars on how to stop bullying, whether the reader is a victim or a perpetrator.

The emotional scars can last for years.
For adults, one of the most distasteful aspects of attending a high school reunion is the prospect of running into a former bully. Turns out many popular authors share this archetypal social nightmare. In “Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories,” writers from R.L. Stine to Lauren Oliver talk about their childhood tormentors—some of whom, it turns out, inspired some pretty great novels.

Adults can help—if they know the right techniques.
When it comes time to advise a bullied kid, grown-ups often resort to two stale pieces of advice: “Just ignore it” or “Stand up for yourself!” The actual social machinations at play in the bullying relationship can make either option untenable. In “The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander: From PreSchool to High School—How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle,” author Barbara Coloroso offers practical solutions so that adults can help, not hinder, bullied children.

Some bullies never really grow up.
And as for that aforementioned school reunion-related fear, it may actually be pretty rational. According to “Mean Girls Grown Up: Adult Women Who Are Still Queen Bees, Middle Bees, and Afraid-to-Bees,” plenty of bullies never quite lose their taste for inflicting terror on their peers. They just take their nasty hobby to a new setting—the workplace, holiday gatherings, or, worst of all, the home. Author Cheyrl Dellasega, Ph.d has strong advice for women who engage in this kind of aggressive behavior.

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