The worthy topic of grade school and middle school bullying is the topic of the new documentary “Bully,” a film that provides some awareness of the troubling issue but fails to show much depth about its true origins and long-term impact. The film doesn’t shed any light on the raw societal root causes that turn ordinary students into, as one middle school Principal described to me, the kids from hell.
“Bully” traces the experiences of a handful of students in Mississippi, Iowa, Oklahoma and Georgia. (Two of the students detailed committed suicide.) The most information we get is on a boy named Eric from Iowa.
What is really frustrating about the stories is the seemingly textbook platitudes and generalizations educators and parents use as they deal with the issue. Either they don’t really care or have no meaningful understanding. Although you will have sympathy for the bullied kids who are shown, and how they are singled out for being “different,” the motion picture doesn’t really provide much light on how the entire problem has become so wide-spread, and thus diminishes our ability to truly understand the potential destruction of young lives that is needlessly occurring.
In the news business, there is the old saying about the importance of who, what, where, when and why. The documentary “Bully” looks at everything but the “why,” which eventually makes this worthy effort ineffective.
The 13 million children who are victims of this ugly problem deserve better. So do their parents.