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Bully: The Movie – and the Reality

Kids with attention deficit, targeted for their poor social skills or awkward behavior, are at greater risk for bullying. A new movie looks at the consequences of peer-on-peer intimidation, aggression, and violence.

The much-publicized documentary, Bully, will debut this weekend in New York and Los Angeles. It tells the story of six families whose sons and daughters are mercilessly taunted by peers and, in some cases, physically brutalized.

You probably don’t need to see the movie to know how far bullies will go to torment kids who appear, sound, or act out of the ordinary.

Many kids with ADHD, LD, and dyslexia are at special risk for bullying, because they wear their academic and behavioral challenges on their sleeve. They are conspicuous targets for the small-minded and mean-spirited.

  • A second-grader with ADHD, who is punished daily by his teacher for getting out of his seat and talking out of turn, is shunned by his classmates in the cafeteria and heckled in the hallways with shouts of “Dumbo” and “Twitchy Tommy.”
  • A seventh-grader with LD and ADHD, who wants to get in good with the school’s cool kids, is set up by them to pull the fire alarm in the school’s hallway. As he sits in the principal’s office, waiting for his parents to show up and listening to the police sirens outside of the school, he looks over and sees them mocking him.
  • A high school student who has dyslexia receives a flood of ugly e-mails from classmates calling him a “retard” who should have never graduated from middle school. One e-mail asks: “Read any good children’s books lately?”

As Bully director Lee Hirsch says, “I am struck by the indifference of so many of us toward bullying.” Some 13 million children are bullied every year. The average episode lasts only 37 seconds and school personnel notice or intervene in only one of 25 incidents.

Bully shows that parents — a few good men and women – have the courage and sweat equity to launch anti-bullying campaigns in their communities. No doubt, as thousands settle down in front of the big screen this weekend — and in weeks to come, as the film goes into wider release – the efforts to battle the bullies will increase geometrically.

Until then, you are on the front lines in protecting your child against bullying and working with the authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice. As you do, join and support other parents by sharing your “bully” story — how it has affected you and your child’s life — on Facebook and here at ADDitude.

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