By CORRIE PELC, Valley Community Newspapers writer
This year, 13 million American kids will be bullied, and three million students will be absent because they feel unsafe at school.
These two facts were taken from the official website for the documentary “Bully,” which will be opening at the Tower Theater in Land Park on April 13.
The movie shows the impact bullying can have by following the lives of five children from different areas of the United States and how the bullying they are enduring has affected them and their families. The documentary was filmed over the course of the 2009-2010 school year.
Mike Oliver, owner and lead instructor of Zen Martial Arts Center at the Coloma Community Center in East Sacramento, has been following the news about “Bully” since he first heard the documentary was being made. He plans to view it and take some of his students with him.
That’s because Oliver teaches “verbal judo” to both kids and adults as a tactic to combat bullies without resorting to violence. He says it’s the same type of system taught to law enforcement officials to deal with criminals in a non-violent way.
“We’ve adapted those same principles that they use, but teaching it to kids so they can use the same skills, the same techniques to deal with bullies on the playground or school,” he explains.
Oliver feels the movie will have a big impact on those that see it because the film shows the personal side of bullying.
“You’re going to actually see and meet the kids and learn about them and see the things that are happening,” he explains.
Another supporter of “Bully” is Carmichael resident Lisa Ford-Berry, founder of BRAVE (Bullies Really Are Violating Everyone) Society. Ford-Berry founded BRAVE Society after her son, Michael, took his own life in 2008 and she found out he had been the victim of bullying at school.
Ford-Berry says BRAVE Society was asked to partner with the movie’s production studio, The Weinstein Company, to help promote “Bully” in Sacramento. Ford-Berry also urges people to see the movie and she hopes the movie will “shock the daylights” out of people.
“Something has got to be shocking enough that you look around and think, ‘My goodness, these are normal, average families that this is happening to,’ and parents need to be fearful,” she says. “I’m hoping that this movie opens it, blows the doors off of everything and gets the conversations where they need to be.”
For more information on “Bully,” visit www.thebullyproject.com.
Three tips for bullying victims
Mike Oliver, owner and lead instructor of Zen Martial Arts Center in East Sacramento, offers three tips for kids if they are being bullied.
Oliver says write down the date, the time, and people involved so there is a record of what happened.
Kids need to report what happened to somebody in charge, such as a parent or teacher, Oliver says.
Ask for help
Oliver says many kids never tell anyone they are being bullied, which can lead to dire consequences.
“I always encourage kids and families to talk to somebody about it so they can at least get a sympathetic ear or maybe get some help to learn how to deal with it,” he adds.