Last Thursday night, I broke my Lenten promise of not using technology after 10p on work nights, but I did so with good reason. CNN, in partnership with Cartoon Network, was broadcasting “The Bully Effect.” This program follows the students featured in the documentary “Bully” for an entire year and gives and update on what’s happened since filming of the movie ended. It also showed notes from film creator Lee Hirsch, who was a victim of bullying himself.
In my review of the film, I talk about how it affected me. I saw it with the JA and a group of students and can confidently say that not one of us left the theater without being touched by the film’s content. For me, it was a bit more personal. My brother has Asperger’s syndrome and one of the film’s subjects, Alex Libby, reminded me so much of Jeff that it hurt.
I am happy to report that since filming ended, Alex has flourished. He’s developed into a well-rounded, well-adjusted young man. However, his family had to move in order to give him that opportunity. That shouldn’t have to be the case. There should be more options for victims rather than moving locations, dropping out of school, or committing suicide. IT’S UNACCEPTABLE. I’m so happy that he and the others featured are doing well, but what about the millions of others out there?
I spoke with one of the counselors at my school who also watched the program. His biggest hang up was the administrator that was a Vice Principal during filming, but who was promoted after filming ended. This woman denied any bullying on the school bus AFTER being shown footage showing otherwise. While I know that not every piece of footage is shown, what she did see should have caused immediate action – whether that’s additional bus monitors or some other solution.
As with the original film, I was filled with emotion throughout “The Bully Effect.” Anger, frustration, love, relaxation. Working in a school while also knowing how bullying has affected my family made this a specially poignant piece. I highly recommend it to those who work in the education field.
I am going to conclude by reiterating the fact that I attended public school for one year during my K-12 years and currently work in a Catholic school. Therefore, I am not qualified to speak about changes that need to be made to the public school system or its administrators. (Heck, I’m not even qualified to talk about changes that should be made in Catholic schools.) However, as a human being, seeing how these children were treated raised some serious questions and concerns about our education system as a whole.