Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


September 19, 2013

'Bully' makes powerful impression

Middle schools screening bullying documentary as teaching tool


The unedited version of the movie, covering such themes as suicide, is more difficult to watch, said Brian McNally, the district’s health and physical education director, who saw the full format at a screening in Washington, D.C., a few years ago. He said he couldn’t come home without it.

“It affected me so much,” he said. “When I came back, in my opening meeting with my health and phys ed teachers, we talked about it and I said, ‘This is the kind of movie every student and teacher needs to see.’”

McNally later arranged for the movie to be shown for school staff at a theater in Danvers after efforts to have it played in Lawrence and Methuen were “fruitless,” he said.

“We felt compelled that it was something we needed to bring into the schools,” he said.

McNally was later able to purchase an “educator’s toolkit” created in conjunction with the film for use at each middle school in town.

After last week’s screening at Wood Hill, school staff incorporated discussions about bullying into their lesson plans for the rest of the week, Bucco said.

“Even in adulthood, (bullying) happens. It unfortunately doesn’t stop in childhood,” Bucco said. “We can make kids aware and if we give them the tools to stop it, we’ll be ahead of the curve.”

The goal, Bucco said, is “to totally eliminate it. How real that is, I don’t know, but the more kids are aware, we’ll eventually come to the dream.”

West Middle students may not have enjoyed the film, but it did capture their attention.

While 12-year-old Belle Haslam found the film “sad and depressing,” she also said it was important.

“I didn’t like it, but it makes people notice what is happening,” she said.

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