Tuesday, October 21, 2014

“Bully” Documentary a Catalyst for Action in Schools and Communities

April 12, 2012 by twalker  
Filed under Featured News, Top Stories


By Tim Walker

In a scene in the acclaimed new documentary “Bully,” Kim Lockwood, asst.  principal of East Middle school in Sioux City, Iowa, wanders down the hallway after comforting a bullied student and wonders aloud,  “Tell me how to fix this. I don’t have any magic.” Later, the parents of 12-year-old Alex Libby meet with Lockwood about the constant abuse their son incurs on the school bus. Lockwood seems well-intentioned and concerned but is unable to provide solutions to calm the very real fears of Alex’s parents, who want the perpetrators taken off the bus.

It is scenes such as this that show how public schools aren’t doing enough to combat the bullying problem. The staff is seen as a little helpless but is unquestionably concerned about the plight of the students portrayed in the film. “Bully,” which follows the pain-filled lives of three students, makes it clear that schools, parents, and whole communities have to step up more forcefully.

How to reboot and refocus the response to the bullying epidemic was the focus of a panel discussion on Tuesday night at the National Education Association, following a special screening in advance of the film’s wide release on Friday. Participating in the discussion was NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, director Lee Hirsch, parent Jackie Libby, American Federation of Teacher President Randi Weingarten and James Wendorf, executive director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Van Roekel hailed “Bully” as a film “every educator in every school should see,” and emphasized the importance that schools help dispel the myth that bullying is just part of growing up. “Bully” spotlights how this “rite of passage” mindset completely undermines any prevention or anti-bullying enforcement.

Van Roekel cautioned that the national dialogue about bullying should avoid pointing the finger at the school system in an attempt to assign blame.

“Schools have to do things differently,” Van Roekel said. “But they need proper staff training and resources. All educators want to tackle this problem, but there is no shortcut.”

According to NEA research, 98 percent of school employees believe it is their job to intervene when they see bullying happening in their school.  More than half of those surveyed (62%) indicate they have witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month.  Further, 93 percent of school employees report their district has implemented a bullying prevention policy, but just over half (54%) said they have received training related to the policy. In March 2011, NEA launched the Bully Free: It Starts With Me campaign, which aims to identify and train caring adults in our schools and communities who are willing to stand out as someone pledged to help bullied students.

The film’s director, Lee Hirsch, agreed that bullying prevention and enforcement requires the involvement of the whole community “ecosystem” and that strong professional development resources and strategies have to be implemented in schools to provide the necessary tools for all staff members – teachers, bus drivers, counselors, school resource officers, etc. – to work in concert to curb the problem.

Hirsch also praised the district where Alex attended school for allowing his cameras to document the plight of  the students as well as the staff’s difficulty in responding.

“The school was very courageous,” said Hirsch. “It was willing to let its dirty laundry be aired for all to see.”

Van Roekel added that he hopes the film triggers all educators to think about their own actions or inactions in addressing bullying in their schools.

“I was a classroom teacher for 23 years. When I saw this film I couldn’t help but wonder – did I miss a sign that one of my students was being bullied? And how many kids suffered because of this?”

“This movie is very powerful, but the conversation after should be even more powerful.”

Take the Bully Free Pledge Today



20 Responses to ““Bully” Documentary a Catalyst for Action in Schools and Communities”
  1. Scott says:

    “Lockwood seems well-intentioned and concerned”

    Wow, what movie were you watching?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 40 Thumb down 6

  2. Virginia Starr says:

    The book BULLY-PROOF is available at Realo Drugstore, 300 N.Queen Street, Kinston, NC 28501, across from the Chamber of Commerce. A must-read. It’s the solution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Shannon says:

    Assistant Principal Lockwood was anything BUT well-intentioned and concerned. The audience in the theater laughed out loud at her ignorance and groaned when she showed up in a later clip. She has no business handling bully issues in this or any school.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 52 Thumb down 1

  4. Chris says:

    I agree, what movie did you all see? Lockwood should have been fired for her lack of concern and action. She has no business in the school system…period.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 47 Thumb down 1

  5. John J Miller says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 22

  6. C F says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 11

  7. Chris says:

    Lockwood sat, in her office with Alex’s parents, unmoved by they’re concern for their child, with footage available for HER to view (obviously she was either in deep denial or had chosen NOT to see it) of the activity occurring on bus 54 saying that these buses were “safe”. She had done a ride-along so she KNEW they were safe. Of course they’re safe when the Asst. Principal is riding along. You DON’T need a degree in education to see the blatant disregard displayed by this woman. This right here should be grounds for dismissal. Apologies will not bring back a dead child…

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 39 Thumb down 1

  8. Shayna says:

    I’m sorry but she tried to make a victim shake hands with his bully. Who was her concern for? She didn’t listen to what the child had to say and instead harangued him for being as bad as his bully and for making his BULLY feel bad. Nothing was cut from that scene and I am shocked that this woman is a principal to this day. To add further insult to injury, she made the meeting with Alex’s parents ALL ABOUT HER. I would be embarrassed. She owes those children an apology. As a former member, I’m embarrassed that NEA would try to spin her behavior like this.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 42 Thumb down 1

  9. natalie says:

    I have to say my family has first hand experience with this same woman. My daughter was being bullied by another girl calling her ugly , fat,and just down right cruel things. The first time it happened Mrs lockwood had a talk with this girl. The next time this same girl walked up to my daughter when the teacher left the room . We went to the school and Mrs. Lockwoods solution to the problem was to have them shake hands and go to lunch together everyday for a week. After this my husband told the school that she was to have nothing further to do with my daughters education there and she was taken out of my daughters classes . Believe me this woman should not be in the positions shes in . I know this first hand .

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 1

  10. natalie says:

    Im sorry i left out that she walked up to my daughter when the teacher left room and slapped her in the face

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  11. Concerned says:

    “Lockwood seems well-intentioned and concerned”

    Um … that’s not how she seemed to me. That’s not how she seemed to EVERY reviewer that wrote about the film. That’s not how she seemed to the audiences, who groan out loud at her attitude. That’s not how she seemed to the distraught mother in the film who said “she politicianed me”.

    The first step in solving a problem is admitting that we have a problem. Administrators like this are the problem. Or at least part of it. If we pretend they aren’t, we’ll never solve the problem. We’ll just keep being “politicianed”.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  12. Mike says:

    This is why Americans are becoming more suspicious of unions/school admins…..Kim Lockwood shoud have been fired…as soon as the movie came out. These are children! Why is she allowed to remain in her position when so clearly inept? Deny it if you wish but I would wager 80%+ of Americans who see this movie would agree. Scary and disappointing.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0

  13. kelly says:

    Kim Lockwood is a completely incompetent school official. Her leadership puts the kids in danger.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  14. Mike says:

    To say that I am absolutely appalled at Ms. Lockwood’s reaction is the grossest understatement imaginable. Those parents in the documentary were reaching out for some semblance of understanding, and received nothing. Of course, there are always politics involved in making changes to the way things are done at schools, but I wonder if Ms. Lockwood’s reaction would have been a bit more in tune with the magnitude of the problem had it been her own children who were being bullied. I will assume this principal is sleeping well at nights while the bullied students lie awake contemplating their next round of physical violence.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  15. David says:

    Kim Lockwood has no business being an educator in any way shape or form. Her blatant disregard for the students suffering from bullying is obvious and indefensible. Ms Lockwood is exactly the type of person Adolph Hitler would have recruited to run a concentration camp. Shame on you Ms Lockwood.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  16. Jessica says:

    Kim Lockwood, she’s a joke. Stupid lady, how did she get hire ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. maddie says:

    I feel sorry for alex. I mean I know I don’t know him but I at least know wat he had to go through cuz I have been in that kind of situation before and it sucks more than anything in the world

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. maddie says:

    its one thing to be the bully but when you are the one that is getting bullied then thats completely different. i actually know a couple people that have killed themselves because they were getting bullied. it wasnt their fault. they didnt do anything to deserve getting bullied but they were bullied and they killed themselves because of it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Nergy says:

    The assistant principle is a MORON! REALLLY!?!?!?
    I hope she is fired and every school administrator,teacher,etc, like her is fired. Does she know she’s not a therapist?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0


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  1. [...] is one notable exception to the negative reactions to the behavior of Kim Lockwood.  Tim Walker of NEA Today writes that Lockwood seems ”well-intentioned” and “concerned,” and writes [...]

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