Bully; absolutely heartbreaking documentary worth watching

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by SuZir, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I watched and cried last evening while watching this: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1682181/ It's available in Netflix. It offers five stories of bullying and does well showcasing some issues around it. It doesn't offer answers or more board look to the topic. But it really pinpoints some huge problems we have when dealing with bullying.

    Two of the kids featured had committed suicide. Another in age of only eleven. One girl had brought a gun to school bus to end the torture. Fortunately no one got hurt. One, the best off of the kids, was openly gay teen from small town. Her whole family was ostracised, but she at least had few great friends, a girlfriend and her parent's support. But also she had made three suicide attempts. And then there was Alex, 12-year-old boy whose story struck a chord a big time for me. His school has allowed documentarists to film at school and that really gave some heartbreaking material and also showed how totally useless that particular school was.

    Alex has striking similarities to my difficult child. Socially very awkward boy, with distinctive facial features making picking on him so very easy. His total inability to fit in despite all the trying. Trying to explain bullying as a joke or messing around for himself and others. His unwillingness to tell anyone about it. Total shutting down with his parents when it comes to topic of bullying. I could had written that description of my son at that same age.

    But with film crew following Alex around it is not the cruelty from the kids, that is the most shocking; it is school officials total uselessness that feels the worst. I could feel his parents frustration, and have to say I wouldn't have dealt with that much grace, when they have a meeting at school about bullying and either criminally clueless or maliciously not interested vice principle tells them, that kids are kids, school can do nothing, kids who so brutally bully their son are angles when she sees them. And hey, look at this cute picture of my new born grandchild. Isn't she lovely?

    Ans same vice principle is also showed dealing with other bullying incident not involving Alex, there she makes bully and victim shake hands, scolds victim, when he wouldn't want to make up like that, guilts victim to believe that now he is a bad guy here because he doesn't accept an apology (which wasn't even made) from the bully. And when the victim tells that it is an ongoing situation, even police has been contacted and the bully has been told to leave this boy alone, but he doesn't, the vice president just tells the boy, that if the earlier bullying incidents have been reported, they have been dealt with and victim shouldn't carry a grudge to the bully and instead just keep forgiving every new bullying incident.

    And when this school tries to show that they actually try to do something for Alex's daily torture in the school bus, they simply talk with kids showed to bully Alex on tape and threaten them with punishment. No parent involvement from their part is at least shown, neither is there any attempt to actually change dynamic or even provide supervision. And Alex is asked why doesn't he report the incidents and when Alex tells, that when he reported an incident of a certain kid sitting on him a year earlier, nothing was done. School officials deny that. They tell Alex it was dealt with and ask has this kid sat on him again. Alex tells no, but that the kid has bullied and been violent in other ways. But school official tells Alex, that their intervening has been effective, because kid has not sat on Alex again. Brilliant!

    Bullying is a complicated social issue and while knee-jerk reaction after for example watching this documentary would be punishing the perps (instead of victims) and taking stronger line to kids who bully etc. that isn't too effective method. The documentary didn't go to ways to solve these issues at all really. But there are some fairly effective, science based methods that seem to be more effective than simply blaming a victim (don't be so annoying/different/whatever) or trying to punish the most vocal bully. In those models bullying is seen as group dynamic issue and answer is more in bystanders than in victims or bullies (especially when one very common type of bully/victim is the kid who is both bullied and a bully.) The group dynamic needs to be changed or every bully or victim taken out from the group is just replaced by a new victim or bully, who used to be a bystander before ending up into the more active role in bullying dynamic.

    We got lucky with our difficult child not ending up to one of those committing suicide because of bullying. Wasn't far though according to him now when he is older. We did knew he was bullied and had trouble fitting in in every peer environment, but especially at school. We did know he got in trouble in school for lashing out and bullying himself. But he didn't talk anything about the school for us after maybe first two years. He just shut down completely when it came to things related bullying. Even rather took blame himself of all broken and lost stuff, even though half of the time he had not lost or broken it himself but it had been stolen or ruined. And just tried and tried to fit in and pretend all the hurtful things were jokes or rough play or messing around. We didn't know the extent on what happened and what we tried to sort out, we too were met with ineffective school officials. I have to say, that right after difficult child left the school, they started to bring in the new model to deal with bullying. And while easy child was not a bully or bullied, what I heard, that program did make at least some difference.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2013
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I will not watch it for a number of reasons. Mainly, because I have seen it and heard it and been shocked by it for close to fifty school years as a participatory parent. Truthfully that is the primary reason that I first became actively involved in the PTA and later the PTO. I knew in my heart that the only way I could possibly protect my children and hopefully other students was to be so familiar to school staff that I could freely observe the climate of the school and the faculty/staff.
    Most of the bullying was subtle but, of course, still harmful.

    This past year there is a television campaign that demonstrates bullying in the school hallways, bullying on the school bus and a third that doesn't come to mind right now. The ads all end with "does your child know what to do when they observe bullying? Teach them how to help." Then a website is shown that provides info. I haven't pulled up the site to see what is advised. I do hope this indicates that there is a true movement to stop bullying on a national level.

    on the other hand, a local newspaper ran a recent article about faculty/staff contributing to the problem. The example that really got me was a middle school male teacher who told one boy "I never believed in abortion until I met you." Good Grief! The whole issue just makes me sick. DDD
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Jett is like that. He does do things that make him stand out (the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) rearing its ugly head), and that gets latched on to - if he didn't do that he wouldn't be bullied. Well... I don't think so. Because, you see, if it's not that it is something else. He smells like bacon (our woodburning furnace spewed smoke throughout the house). He stinks. He talks funny (he can't help it, his voice hasn't changed, and might not ever). He's a loser (he's not real coordinated at sports, though getting better). He's too old for cartoons (really? I'm not. I'm 40. husband isn't, either). And on and on and on. He never seems to be able to remember the perpetrators, either - because he knows, from prior experience, things will get worse. Only once did it get better - because they actually HURT another kid and were expelled. Twins.
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I won't watch either... for the same reasons as DDD.

    I've lived it... through two generations. And in my opinion it hasn't gotten any better for non-neurotypical people.

    Amazingly, at least around here, there has been some progress physical disabilities and bullying. SOME. That is, if the kid is normal from the shoulders up but has physical problems, teachers and classmates seem to be stepping up and protecting. It just isn't politically correct any more to trip the kid with crutches or throw a snowball in a the face of a kid who is in a wheelchair.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't watch. I lived it so I know what it is, but from what I saw a lot of kids got bullied besides me. And it continued through all my kid's school years with 35 sometimes contributing to passive-aggressive bullying. Jumper went to our big high school for one year and came back to our small school because of all the out-of-control kids who constantly hurt each other and made fun of one another and she felt helpless to stop it. And Jumper is strong and can be intimidating, but s he was not interested in getting involved in protecting bullied kids. Then they'd go after her and one kid vs. ten kids is a no-brainer. It hasn't gotten better, and I wonder how anyone can stop it.

    From my memory, if you tattled on the bully, the bullying got even worse, even if the child got into trouble. I would beg my parents not to go to school for that reason. My daughter Jumper has told me that "you don't tell on anyone or it just gets worse." She isn't even bullied, but all the kids know how it is. Although the bullying goes on in school, it is usually behind the teacher's backs, on the playground, at ballgames or walking home too and on the bus. How can bullying be proven? If it is, what will stop the bullies? Here is a prime example of why I give up on bullying:

    A boy who was deaf wrestled on the school team at Big High School in our area. For a few years several of the more skilled and bigger wrestlers bullied him even sexually abusing him. It got so bad that his mother took him out of that school and put him in Jumper's school and the police got involved. The boys who had offended all got off on minor charges. One of them got a full wrestling scholarship to a very good state school...one of the best. This story was all over the news, but the school didn't care. They just want his great wrestling skills to help make money for their school so he got rewarded for his heinous behavior. There are also some kids who honestly believe that his small, deaf kid was lying about the other boys and that he's the one who blame.

    When stuff like this happens, I see no end to bullying. It's getting even worse with all the technical props to help it along now. And the laws are not that tough on those who use online bullying or offline bullying.

    I'm glad I got over my bullied years, and actually they made me have to learn to act tough and fight back, not sure such a good thing. But necessary. Not all kids recover from bullying. It is a horrible trauma.