By Debbie Baldwin
This documentary on school bullying came into the spotlight several months ago as producers fought with the MPAA to change the R rating to PG-13. The cynic in me suspects the push was initiated by bullies of the industry, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, to increase box-office revenue. The pure-of-heart in me thinks the intention was to make the movie accessible to the very victims and bullies the film portrays.
The film follows several school children throughout the south and rural Midwest who are victims of merciless bullying. School administrators are so oblivious they seem complicit, the kids are ruthless and parents have nowhere to turn. Desperate to open eyes, one parent seeks help and uses social networking to raise awareness of the single greatest cause of violence against children in the United States.
Let me state for the record that this film is moving and tragic and very well made. However, it really just scratches the surface of a social dynamic that is as old as the one-room schoolhouse. There is a complex psychology to bullying, and often bullies are victims, as well. Furthermore, the film follows a somewhat unpolished group of people, giving the impression bullying is confined to rural, under-educated populations and that is certainly not the case. That being said, the film does a wonderful job shedding light on a problem that continues to fester in every strata of society.
It’s a 6.
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