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New film examines bullying in U.S. schools


According to the film, 13 million kids are bullied each year. (Kelby with her friends: Image via The Bully Project)

“I couldn’t have been hit by a cool car…it had to be a minivan,” laughs Kelby from Oklahoma, an openly gay teen who can’t make the smile reach her eyes as she recalls the day she was hit by a van because of her sexuality. Kelby is one of five people and families documented over the course of a year in a groundbreaking new documentary that aims to shed light on American’s bullying epidemic.

The documentary, called ‘The Bully Project,’ which has a limited release March 30th in select theaters, was directed by producer/director Lee Hirsch, who admits to being bullied throughout most of his childhood.

“In many ways, those experiences and struggles helped shape my world view and the types of films I’ve endeavored to make. I firmly believe that there is a need for an honest, gutsy film which gives voice to kids who deal with such torments on a daily basis. Through this unflinching look, we will make a difference for other young people across our communities and improve our collective response to this crisis,” said Hirsch in a statement.

Hirsch also explains that currently there is an attitude of “kids will be kids,” and he intends for the film to reach not only those who have been the victims of bullying, but also those who still need what Hirsch refers to as an “empathy push.”

Watch the film’s trailer:

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Stories include two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter, who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus.

The documentary also gives viewers an intimate glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias, and principals’ offices, offering insight into the often cruel world of the lives of bullied children.

As teachers, administrators, kids, and parents struggle to find answers, “The Bully Project” examines the dire consequences of bullying through the testimony of strong and courageous youth, say the filmmakers.

According to the project, 13 million kids are bullied each year, and 3 million are absent in school because they feel “uncomfortable.”

“Bullying is not a normal stage of development,” explain the project’s leaders. “[Bullying] undermines the social and emotional development of our children, and too often leads to tragic consequences.”

Starting with the film’s STOP BULLYING. SPEAK UP! call to action, the Bully Project will try to catalyze audience awareness with a series of tools and programs supported by regional and national partners. More information about these partners and programs can be found here.

For more school safety news and information, see:

Experts warn of a growing trend: Teen password sharing

10 ways schools are teaching internet safety

What schools can do about bullying and cyber bullying

SAFE Center at eSN Online

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