[box] “Bully” is a documentary by Lee Hirsch, produced by Harvey Weinstein. On March 30 it will have a limited release. The movie was Rated R even after the heartfelt and widespread campaigning by middle schoolers and celebrities alike to rate the film PG-13 so it could be shown in schools. 13 million kids will be bullied every year in schools. This problem needs to stop. Please tell everyone you know about this film, and start mentoring our kids today, inspired by the thoughts and words of our Over My Shoulder intern Sarah Gross as she reflects on Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation (BTWF) and “Bully”.

-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder[/box]

Lady Gaga, one of society’s strong female mentors, recently celebrated the launching of the Born This Way Foundation (BTWF) at Harvard University. This foundation aims to foster hope and inspiration by mentoring youths within a community that embraces individuality. Important goals of BTWF are to nurture individuality and educate about the problem of bullying.

People can confront bullies at any age, and at any stage in life, but the bullying epidemic is most prevalent in middle schools and high schools. Youths are most susceptible to threats, putdowns, and other forms of mistreatment during these school years. Students judge one another in an environment that fosters competitive behavior, particularly in the social construction of popular versus unpopular kids. Once a student starts behaving like a bully (a popular kid talking to an unpopular kid, for example), the mean streak can spread through the school like wildfire.

Many students are victims of bullying behavior, which can range from being ignored by the popular group, to being gossiped about and threatened, to being subjected to physical violence. The degree of bullying that a student may face is irrelevant; bullying in any form damages a student’s self-esteem and can lead to severe depression.

Lady Gaga hopes to bring attention to bullying with her anti-bullying campaign as part of BTWF. At the same time, The Weinstein Company is bringing middle school/high school bullying to the forefront in Lee Hirsch’s new documentary titled, “Bully.” Coupled with BTWF, “Bully” is an astute way of educating society at large about the bullying problem and encouraging people to take action against it.

Here’s the trailer for “Bully”.

“Bully” tells the remarkable stories of five brave families that will challenge viewers to move from shock to resignation about bullying to action, transforming schools and communities into places where empathy and respect are valued and bullying is unacceptable…

Media is a valuable tool for distributing information and campaigning for good causes across a broad audience. “Bully,” as a film that will be shown in theaters nationwide starting March 30, 2012, is expected to use its power as a form of media to reach as wide an audience as possible. It is part of what is called “The Bully Project”:

The Bully Project is a collaborative effect that brings together partner organizations that share a commitment to ending bullying and ultimately transforming society.

This anti-bullying campaign promises to foster greater awareness in society—to even “transform” society by “transforming” the way schools address mean-spirited behavior among students. The Bully Project may reach these goals, provided that schools (including faculty and students) view and learn from the film. The problem in all of this is the film’s initial “R” rating, which precluded individuals under the age of 17 from viewing the film. This rating meant that the film could not be shown in schools, where it is most needed and could make the greatest impact.

The website for The Bully Project currently states that the film is not yet rated, and the production notes for the film indicate that the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) rates the film PG-13. These changes are due in part to an effort to change the rating. Katy Butler, a Michigan high school student, started a petition to change the rating to PG-13 to allow the film to be shown in schools. The petition now has over 200,000 signatures, so the film may well be on its way to transforming schools and instigating a solution to the bullying problem. Ellen DeGeneres (one of the star female mentors highlighted in my previous post) has taken part in the anti-bully campaign by promoting the film as an important social movement that can “change lives”.

As a result, the film has garnered a great deal of media attention. This is wonderful for the campaign, as it continues to reach wide audiences and encourage people like Lady Gaga and Ellen to become mentors for a loving, tolerant society.

The anti-bullying campaign is one branch of mentorology, where people who are passionate about a good cause can educate one another to create a solution to a problem and thus encourage a safer, more tolerant society. Many individuals have experienced bullying firsthand, and know how harmful it can be.

Be a mentor and take part in the campaign to stop bullying once and for all.

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2 Responses to “Mentoring Amidst the Anti-Bullying Campaign”

  1. Cindy Simell-Devoe

    Help, Lady Gaga, I am a non profit children’s theater director working on the play 13 which deals with bullying and there is bullying within my cast. Advice, please. I’m losing my mind. Need assistance. How do I get through to these young people? I love them and understand the seriousness of bullying. So sad, it is happening in a theatrical environment which should be so safe to explore and create. Advise welcomed!

  2. jeffrey greenberg

    Please help. My nephew, who is 12, and is about to graduate from middle school in Secaucus NJ, was victimized this past thursday, when he was in the boys locker room after gym class. One of the other boys tore off his towel, leaving my nephew naked in front of circle of other boys. They taunted him and ridiculed him. They told him he had a small penis, and they laughed at him. He is devastated. He is supposed to graduate middle school next week, and he does not want to attend. Ironically he among the sweetest, most sensitive and caring young boys I have ever known. It breaks my heart to see him in this pain, and I am fearful of the repercussions for him and I am sure for other potential victims, who will inevitably be subjected to this same type of abuse.
    Is there some positive, big gesture that can be made on his behalf.?The school seems to be taking a very vanilla position on this, saying that “boys will be boys”, and the only action they will take is to not allow the main culprit to go on a field trip early next week. Not exactly punitive, if you ask me.
    Please let me know your thoughts, and thanks for your support


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