Bully: Controversial Documentary

Every year, about 13 million American kids are bullied, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation.



The documentary “Bully,” directed by Sundance filmmaker Lee Hirsch, brings human scale to this startling statistic, offering an unflinching look at the nature and impact of bullying upon five kids and their families.


Bully: The Characters

Alex, 12

For 12-year-old Alex of Sioux City, Iowa, the slurs, curses and threats begin before he even boards the school bus. A sweet-natured kid just starting middle school and wanting more than anything to fit in, Alex assures his worried parents that the kids who taunt and hit him are only “messing with him.” But bullying has trailed Alex thorough life like a shadow, and as his seventh grade year unfolds, the bullying only escalates.

Kelby, 16

Ever since 16-year-old Kelby came out as a lesbian, she and her family have been treated as pariahs in their small town of Tuttle, Oklahoma. The onetime all-star athlete, Kelby has faced an outpouring of hatred from classmates as well as teachers, and has been forced to leave her sports teams by attacks. Refusing her parents’ offers to leave Tuttle, the gutsy teenager is bolstered by her adoring girlfriend and a few staunch friends, resolving to stay in her town and change a few minds.

Ja’Meya, 14

In Yazoo County, Mississippi, 14-year-old Ja’Meya was picked on every morning and afternoon of the hour-long bus ride between home and school. On the morning of September 1st, the quiet, unassuming girl had had enough and brandished a loaded handgun she’d taken from her mother’s closet to scare off her tormentors. Incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility and charged with multiple felony counts, Ja’Meya fearfully awaits the outcome of her case, supported by her loving mother.

David and Tina Long

In October 2009, 17-year-old Tyler Long of Murray County, Georgia, hanged himself after years of abuse at the hands of his classmates and indifference from school officials. As his parents, David and Tina Long, mourn the loss of the son they tried to protect, and demand accountability from the school that failed him so miserably, his death has sparked a war in a community forced to face its bullying demons.


Kirk and Laura Smalley

Following the bullying-related suicide of their 11 year-old son, Kirk and Laura Smalley are determined to prevent other children from suffering Ty’s fate. As schools around the country prepare for the start of a new academic year, Kirk launches an anti-bullying organization, Stand for the Silent, coordinating a series of vigils that underscore the high stakes of America’s bullying crisis.