A Guide to the Film BULLY: Fostering Empathy and Action in Schools

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The film Bully follows five stories of children and families who are affected deeply by bullying within the course of a school year. With intimate glimpses into homes, classrooms, cafeterias, and principals' offices, the film offers insight into the lives of bullied, ridiculed children.

Historically, seemingly small instances of labeling and ridicule have catastrophic consequences for the marginalized groups involved. This film brings those “small” instances into the spotlight, creating a space to discuss the effects of bullying. The accompanying guide tells the personal stories of those bullied, and suggests that improving school climate takes fostering a reflective and engaging learning community.

Features include:

  • Essential background information about bullying, including testimony and research findings from experts who have studied the effects of bullying on children, parents, and communities.
  • Facing History's Resource Collections provide additional resources about creating safe and caring school environments.
  • A "toolbox" of discussion strategies that will help facilitate honest, open dialogue about the film with groups of students and adults alike.

The film BULLY is available in two versions, the original feature documentary film BULLY (rated PG-13) and a special version of the film edited for younger audiences. The full-length, PG-13 version of BULLY includes storylines dealing with suicide, as well as the story of a 14-year-old girl incarcerated for bringing a gun on a school bus, and runs 96 minutes. The special version of BULLY edited for younger audiences excludes these sensitive topics and runs 47 minutes. Both versions of the film include the story of Alex, a 14-year-old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, and Kelby, a 16-year-old girl who was bullied after she came out as gay. We recommend that you preview both versions to decide which is most appropriate for your students.

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