CEYC hosted a free screening of the movie Bully on Monday July 16th at Metro Cinema. This movie is a riveting and controversial documentary that follows the lives of families that have lost the lives of their children due to bullying.
The film is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of the bullying crisis. Bully opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic, and economic borders. It documents the responses of teachers and administrators to aggressive behaviors that defy “kids will be kids” clichés, and it captures a growing movement.
The film rating is controversial because it shows explicit scenes and two of the children commit suicide because of bullying. A youth said “I think the suicide is a major reason why the film has been rated R, but that is what drives the film and the documentary shows the reality” Another parent said “Thanks, tonight was heartbreaking, but great.”
Members from CEYC led a discussion following the screening that talked about more than just the victim, but the bystanders and how bullying is a whole issue and how one person can stand up and make a change. During the discussion there was the opportunity for the audience to share their stories and comment on the film. Many youth shared their personal experiences and agreed that bullying is an issue as a whole and that everybody needs to address it. Sarah from RespectED spoke briefly about the resources available relating to bullying and violence prevention education. Sarah commented on the event and stated “I would like to congratulate the City of Edmonton Youth Council on the success of the screening of Bully at the Metro on July 16. It was great turnout, and the documentary obviously had a real impact on the viewers. The Council’s youth did a great job with the debrief. They asked thought-provoking questions and it was interesting to get perspectives from the audience. Thank you for the opportunity to speak, as well, and to showcase the resources that are available to schools and other youth-serving organizations who want to help create a culture change that will prevent bullying. We are lucky in Edmonton to have people and organizations that want to help create safe environments for young people.”
CEYC General Assembly Member Maegan said “When people think about bullying they think about just the victim, but bullying is a wide issue and it affects families, it affects communities, it affects high schools, it affects everybody, and it is very big.”
Zack, a youth who attended the screening was very impressed and moved by the film, he said ”I really enjoyed this film, it was just done so well and was so in-depth and the youth council did such an excellent job of leading the discussion and representing CEYC”.
While the stories examine the dire consequences of bullying, they also give testimony to the courage and strength of the victims of bullying and seek to inspire real changes in the way we deal with bullying as parents, teachers, children, and in society as a whole. Through the power of these stories, Bully aims to be a catalyst for change and to turn the tide on an epidemic of violence that has touched every community.
In the film one of the parents says “Preventing bullying in our schools and communities will not be a quick fix or simple solution”
A mother at the event commented on when her child was bullied and how they had to move schools because the bullying was not being addressed. Jessica who brought a few youth from her community and is a Recreation Coordinator for Sturgeon County stated “My youth council members, summer supervisors and I attended the movie Bully last night hosted by the City of Edmonton Youth Council and were touched by each story and how each youth shared a part of them that everyone could relate too. Our conversation from the time we left the theatre all the way home 45 minutes later was filled with questions and sincere conversation. Thank you to the organizers [CEYC] who made this event happen and planted the seed for change.”
The film follows five families, where two of them have lost their children to suicide. One of the children Alex says “I feel kind of nervous going back to school… I like learning, but I have trouble making friends,” Alex says as the summer ends. “People think that I’m different, I’m not normal. Most kids don’t want to be around me. I feel like I belong somewhere else.” Another parent of the youth Tyler said “…And it [Bullying] took a toll on him early in middle school. To where he cried, and then it got to the point where he didn’t cry anymore. And that’s when it became difficult to truly understand what he was going through.”
This event was organized to be an opportunity for everyone to see the devastating realistic stories of families that have experienced bullying in schools, but also to leave them with the message, that it only takes one person to stand up and have hope to make a larger change. A member of the CEYC executive Meghana stated that “Most people’s status on bullying is that it is unfair, but when they see it happening they don’t really do anything about it, so just awareness about why it’s unfair and why it’s just something that shouldn’t be happening is something that goes a long way”.
A major focus was following the lives of Ty’s family and his father Kirk said “I’ll fight bullying wherever it’s found. Schools, Workplace. I’m not going to quit until bullying does.” His parents have created the Organization Stand for the Silent, to empower students to stop bullying. This film shows you explicit and real life examples of the effects that bullying has on everyone and leaves you with a very strong message that everyone needs to take a stand and have hope for all children that are bullied.
This event was a huge success and CEYC would like to thank Red Cross who provided staff members from their RespectED program and talked about creating safe environments for children and education surrounding violence/abuse prevention. We would also like to raise awareness for PREVNET which is a network that is committed to stop bullying and they have resources for children, teens, educators, and parents around bullying and violence prevention.
Check out these websites for resources around bullying: