Giving the voiceless a voice

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By Monique Carrasco / Staff Writer

Featured in the film (The Weinstein Company)

By Monique Carrasco / Staff Writer

On March 30, the Weinstein Company, in collaboration with the Sundance Institute, will be releasing their latest movie, “Bully,” into theatres around the country, and this is one event that must not go unnoticed.
The film is a fresh and urgent documentary, directed by Emmy-award winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch, which tells the story of five children who have suffered from the pain and heartache of bullying.
It offers an intimate look at the life of each child and family, and sheds some light on a social issue that has been ignored for much too long.
One of the stories told in this movie is that of 16-year-old Kelby, in Tuttle, Oklahoma.
Not too long ago high school was going pretty well for Kelby; she had average grades, and she was a valued player on her high school softball and basketball teams.
All of this changed after she decided to come out to her friends and family as a lesbian.
Tuttle is a small town where things get around fairly quickly, and this news was not received by everyone quite as well as Kelby had hoped.
She was ultimately faced with physical and verbal abuse from disapproving neighbors, friends, classmates, and teachers.
At one point, she was even assaulted by a van of teenage boys during school hours.
Yet despite her parents’ offers, Kelby refused to leave the city of Tuttle.
She chooses to stay in her small town and withstand the cruelty, intending to, as she puts it, “change a few minds”.
The film also features Kirk and Laura Smalley who, after the bully-related suicide of their 11-year-old son Ty, established an anti-bullying organization called “Stand for the Silent”, in order to help children in the position Ty was once in.
In the film, a 12-year-old boy named Alex of Sioux, Iowa, is harassed multiple times by  several different “bullies” on a bus ride home.
The scenes captured and the stories told are merely pieces of the struggles these individuals have overcome, and they are presented in this documentary not only to give a voice to each child and family affected by bullying, but to all those who fall silent amidst the chaos of the rest of the world.
There is one thing, however, stopping “Bully” from reaching its full potential: its rating.
Because of a few four-letter words used over the course of the movie, it received an R rating, and this brought much concern to supporters of the film.
They worry the given rating will prevent the most targeted audience from being able to see the movie, yet according to Fox News, the MPAA (Motion Pictures Association of America) claims that an R will not stop children from seeing the movie, but simply enable parents to make informed decisions.
Katy Butler, a high school student from Michigan, and a victim of bullying herself, disagrees wholeheartedly with the MPAA.
She decided to create an online petition demanding that they change the rating to PG-13, and the appeal reeled in over 150,000 signatures.
Only time will tell whether the rating will stand until the premiere, but if one thing is certain, it’s that at least 150,000 strangers out there are in great support of “Bully” and the message it holds, along with all those involved in the movement which inspired the film, a movement called “The Bully Project”.
The Bully Project is a collaboration effort made up of thousands, and every company, every family, every person involved is dedicated to ending the bully crisis in America once and for all.
Anyone who wishes to help the children suffering from bullying can be a part of the project simply by going to and choosing to “join the movement”.
After becoming a member, one receives notifications regarding the latest “Bully Project” functions, and ways to get involved through community campaigns, social media, and video projects
Nearly 13 million children a year experience some form of harassment, discrimination, or abuse from their peers, so any sort of support is gladly received.
The founders of this project believe that with the right approach, and with enough heart and willpower, a difference can be made, and lives can be changed for the better.
Together the members strive to create a sense of both empathy and hope for all young victims of bullying, and raise awareness about the severity of the issue.
The more aware everyone becomes about the situation, the more responsive they will be, and the safer children will be allowed to feel in their schools and communities.
The director, producers, essentially every person involved in the making of  “Bully” hopes that the film will turn out to be a substantial step in raising awareness, and informing the public about the many ways they can get involved, and make a positive change in their community.

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