I reviewed the film documentary, Bully on Amazon.com. Documenting and exposing the reality of children being tormented by peers in traditional schools is commendable. The humanizing footage of the bullied children, including footage of their emotional suffering and home-video of them at various stages of their childhoods, was painfully powerful. The film’s exposé of the infuriating incompetence, minimization and victim-blaming shown by the adults towards the victimized children was outstanding. Of course, the stories of the children who took their own lives were some of the most heartwrenching “wake-up calls” in the film.
However, despite these strengths, I gave the film only a three-star rating for the following reasons:
1. The film failed to address that the root causes of peer bullying are child maltreatment by adults and the child-subordinating power structure of schooling itself.
2. The film failed to state that the most obvious immediate solution to protect bullied youth is for parents to rescue their children by abandoning the schools.
The film also left viewers with a false sense of “hope”. Emotional community rallies, slogans on bracelets, pledges, Facebook groups and bringing passionate speakers to schools will not put an end a problem that is a symptom of a much larger problem: The inhumane way children are treated by adults in Industrialized culture.
Following is my review of Bully on Amazon:
This film misses the obvious solution: Homeschool!
This film is a heartbreaking account of several children who have been tormented by harassment and verbal and physical abuse in school. The most tragic stories are of those youth who were driven to the point where they took their own lives.
I rated this film a three-star because although the anti-bullying rallies and projects are a way to help families heal and bring solidarity to victims, they are mere band-aids on the true causes of bullying: Child maltreatment and confinement.
I have been working with youth of all ages in various roles, including as a mental health counselor, social worker, mentor and educator. I am a homeschooling single mother. Children treat others with violence and hatred when their needs are not met, when they are tormented, abused and neglected at home by their parents and families and when they are forced to attend the prison-like hierarchical environments of factory schooling. The entire power structure of schools, with adults having total power and control over the lives, movement, bodily functions and thoughts of children sets up a dangerous dynamic amongst a group of youth forced to associate in such conditions. Many school teachers are rude, sarcastic, disrespectful, controlling, abusive and use their position to lash out and act out their own personal control issues onto the children. Teachers model bullying by their very position over children.
The entire structure of schooling sets youth up to be powerless and voiceless. Youth lash out against the apathy to their basic needs and against the neglect of their needs for freedom, play, creativity, autonomy and joy by developing a toxic youth culture that adults can’t penetrate, despite their attempts, threats and surveillance. Youth in schools set up their own power structures, usually based upon superficial criteria. Youth feel the power and control they lack by segregating into groups and even by targeting and abusing other youth. Rallies, bracelets, slogans, initiatives, curriculum and school talks about bullying are not going to stop this abuse of children because they fail to address the way adults treat children in Industrialized culture.
I also rated this film a three-star because this film ignored the most obvious solution that a growing number of families are joyfully choosing daily: Homeschooling and unschooling! The best way to change a system that refuses to change is to walk away from it. If enough families abandon schools and either homeschool or unschool or begin establishing child-led learning communities right in their towns and cities, the indomitable power structure of schooling would fail.
Parents, your children’s lives, your children’s mental health, your children’s safety are worth more than school. Our society’s bizarre, unchallenged belief that school is a necessity and that the absence of school is akin to death is causing death to be the answer for so many suffering youth.
If your child is suffering any form of bullying, remove your child from school and research unschooling TODAY. Do NOT force your child to take the abuse for another day! Would you tolerate what they are forced to tolerate? Protect your child and help him or her restore a healthy sense of self worth, safety and self love by allowing your child to live and learn naturally, as people did for millennia until 1852. Yes, parents with minimal income and full time jobs and single parents CAN do it with sacrifice and creativity! Tap into homeschool groups and community activities. Allow your child to follow his or her passions and interests. Whatever you do, don’t keep sending your child back for another dose of torture- You are not aware of their breaking point. As someone who works directly with youth who are victims or bullies (and often both at the same time) and as someone who has personal experience [with this issue] as well, I can tell you, SCHOOL IS NOT WORTH THE DAMAGE IT CAUSES.