Documentary on Bullying Has Some Serious Flaws

'Bully' simplifies and 'distorts' connection to suicide: Emily Bazelon
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2012 1:31 PM CDT
Documentary on Bullying Has Some Serious Flaws
In this undated image released by the Weinstein Company, Alex Libby is shown in the documentary film "Bully."   (AP Photo/The Weinstein Company)

(Newser) – There's much to like about the documentary Bully, especially the parts depicting kids who show "inspiring resilience," writes Emily Bazelon at Slate. But she's worried that Lee Hirsch's film "oversimplifies and distorts" the connection between bullying and suicide, which could end up sending a dangerous message to kids. Specifically, she criticizes Hirsch for presenting a one-sided picture of the suicide of 17-year-old Tyler Long.

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The movie leaves the impression that bullying was the sole reason for Long's suicide and that school officials did nothing to help him. The truth seems far more complicated. The movie, for instance, makes no mention of his previous diagnoses of ADHD, bipolar disorder, and Asperger's. Nor does it mention that Long's own suicide note does not explicitly talk about being bullied. This movie "is supposed to be a teaching tool, yet it offers some serious misimpressions about the connection between bullying and suicide, misimpressions that could have real effects on young viewers," writes Bazelon. It's something for parents to think about if they bring their kids to see it, she adds. Read the full piece here. (Read more bullying stories.)

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