Dr. Mom: Use 'Bully' movie as platform to open dialogue with your kids

04/17/2012 12:00 AM

02/26/2013 8:10 PM

Editor's note: Starting next week, the Dr. Mom advice column will appear on Thursdays. The next column will appear April 26.

A friend recently asked me if I thought bullying was really on the rise. Is it really so much more prevalent today than when we were kids?

That was a little tough for me to answer. Sure, I remember bullies back in my day. I recall avoiding some outright mean-spirited peers and certainly remember being teased, relentlessly at times.

Bullying is nothing new.

However, now through a doctor's and mother's eyes, bullying certainly seems much more of an epidemic. I worry. I worry about what seems like a disease, eating away at our younger generation, spreading like wildfire through schools, computers, and text messages.

I worry because children kill themselves as a direct result of bullying.

So while recent statistics vary, we know that at the very least 20 percent of children in the United States will be a victim of bullying, and children who are obese, gay, or disabled are 63 percent more likely than other children in their peer group to suffer at the hands of bullies. Add in the element of social media, and this disease that is bullying takes hold fast and furiously.

Enter "Bully," the movie, a documentary chronicling a year in the life of America's bullying crisis. This no-holds-barred film aims to shine a glaring light on this disease. It is a wake-up call for parents and educators to be aware and take action.

It's also meant for teen viewing. After some editing, the previously R-rated film was able to get a PG-13 rating prior to release. Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group that advocates for children and parents in the media sphere, had this to say about the film: " 'Bully' is heartbreaking, moving, infuriating, and indisputably essential viewing for middle- and high schoolers and their parents."

Go to www.commonsensemedia. org for a complete and thorough review before deciding if this film is right for you and your child.

The film debuted in Sacramento at the Tower Theatre Friday and will run for a brief time there.

Joanna Jullian, a cybermom journalist writing at www.bananamoments.com, attended the premiere and had this to say about it:

"The movie 'Bully' is a must-see for parents and educators. Teens should see it with their parents so there can be good dialogue about values afterward."

The unfortunate reality is that bullying is here and has infected our children. Children who are bullied feel shame and often suffer in silence. What I love about this Bully Project (www.thebullyproject.com) is that it brings awareness and reality to our doorsteps. This is something, that as a community, we cannot ignore.

This disease affects us all. So, talk to your children today about bullying. Be a role model for empathy and kindness. Stand up and speak up against bullying. Have zero tolerance for it.

Bullying is a preventable disease, but only if we are willing to acknowledge it as such and stand together to decrease its prevalence and hold on our youths.

They deserve better.

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