Can Watching Movies Prevent Bullying?

Yesterday morning, I turned on my laptop and began my daily ritual of checking various movie and celebrity sites.   When visiting these websites, I expect to read entertaining, but often vapid, articles detailing the latest Hollywood news. Yesterday however, I encountered a compelling article about youth bullying.

The topic of this article was a girl named Katy Butler, and her role in attempting to change the rating of a documentary film called Bully. Katy is a lesbian high school student, and has created a petition aimed at reducing the R rating of this documentary to a PG-13 rating, so that the film will be more widely shown in schools.  This petition has obtained a staggering 300,000 signatures, and has garnered support from many celebrities, including Meryl Streep and Justin Bieber. Katy feels that this film, which consists of teenagers’ moving personal accounts of being bullied, will encourage high school students to defend their peers.

Research shows that bullying is a very significant youth violence issue, with 20% of high school students reporting bullying on school property during 2008. Katy has discerned that an important component of prevention is student education. As explained at, learning about bullying via artistic works, including films and books, gives students the opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge about the detrimental effects bullying has on their peers’ health and well being.  The film Bully, if made accessible to youth via a PG-13 rating, could encourage teenagers to stop tormenting their fellow students, and to intervene when they witness bullying. Other ways to prevent bullying include:

-promoting positive and open relationships between youth and their parents

-creating anti-bullying school policies

-encouraging faculty to create an atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance within the classroom

To learn more about how to prevent bullying, please visit


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). MMWR Weekly: Youth   Risk Behavior Surveillance. Retrieved from:

Signorile, M. (2012, March 13). Katy Butler, ‘Bully’ documentary campaign leader, talks personal bullying experiences, thanks celeb supporters. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2012).Educate about bullying. Retrieved from: