'Bully' opens in Utah theaters, schools say awareness not enough

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SALT LAKE CITY — People across the country are talking more about kids being bullied since the movie "Bully" opened in theatres.

"Bully" is a documentary following five kids and families over the course of a school year and it depicts intense real life bullying situations, including stories of two families who have lost children to suicide after being bullied.

The film, which was originally rated R for offensive language, was re-edited to meet PG-13 standards. A 17- year-old high school student started an online petition calling for a lower rating so younger people could see the film.

It opened March 30 in five theatres nationwide unrated, during the rating dispute. In its first weekend it grossed just over a $100 thousand dollars. After the PG-13 version was released this weekend in theaters across the nation and in Salt lake, the movie grossed over $1.2 million, and it's expected to make over $1.5 million.

So far in Utah, the viewership has been lukewarm, but movie goers say the impact has been overwhelming.

"It was touching," said movie-goer Gloria Iverson. "It makes you feel like we need to rally, we need to educate our parents to teach their children to cherish those around them."

By the numbers
Release Date: March 30, 2012
Theatres: 5
First Weekend: $116,472
This Weekend: $1,258,468
Lifetime Gross: $1,537,670

Iverson and her two daughters watched the real-life drama of school kids being attacked on school buses and bullied in their communities.

"It was a heart-breaking movie," said Rachel Iverson, another movie goer. "And it makes you angry."

Sara Bluestar was angry over a particular scene where a school administrator seemed reluctant to help a mother protect her son who was being bullied on his school bus.

"The fact that any adult could assume that bullying is not the cause of childhood aggression is unbelievable to me," Bluestar said.

As gripping as the film may be state educators say, it's not enough to fight bullying.

"(We) help kids in school learn social competency skills and how to treat one another, how to deal with pressures and other problems in your life, that you can grow socially as well as academically," said Verne Larsen of the State Office of Education.

Solutions are made on a district-by-district basis, because, he says, the school district is more likely to execute or put into action anti-bullying plans that they've implemented.

Long-term prevention in schools and communities with training and resources is more effective than a documentary, which has some parents ready to help their kids understand the consequences of bullying, Larsen said.


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