The relatives and friends of Phoebe Prince, the 15 year old Irish girl who took her own life after a campaign of bullying in her Massachusetts high school in 2010, are speaking out in support of 'Bully,' the new documentary film about peer on peer violence opening today.
Prince's relatives and friends told the Boston Herald they'll be out in force to attend screenings of the new film, which offers an unprecedented look at the many social factors that allow bullying to thrive in US schools and communities.
'It’s really important,' Prince’s aunt Eileen Moore told the Herald. 'Hopefully, it will open the eyes of adults about what’s really going on.'
Dawn Berard, a mother from the South Hadley, Massachusetts area whose daughter was friendly with Prince, told the Herald she plans to take her entire family to see the film.
'People need to know how damaging it can be,' Berard said.
According to the Herald child development experts say 'Bully' shines a bright light on the shocking scale of the problem.
'We’re having a hard time,' Diane Levin, an early childhood education professor at Wheelock College told the Herald. Levin said she believes there has been a spike in bullying nationally, which she blames on something she calls 'compassion deficit disorder.'
'It’s the term I use to capture what worries me about the various forces in society that are undermining children’s social development, and a lot of it had to do with media and technology,' she said.
Earlier this month 'Bully' endured a high-profile ratings battle with the Motion Picture Association of America, who decided to give the film an R rating after objecting to the language some children had used on camera. When critics claimed their R rating would prevent the people most affected from high school bullying from seeing the film, the the film’s distributor, The Weinstein Company, agreed to remove some of the offending language and the film now has a PG-13 rating.
Prince's aunt said the ratings battle was a more reminder of just how little most adults actually know about children’s lives.
'They put an R rating on it for the language that real-life kids use,' she said. 'That’s the world our children are living in, and the kids know it. It’s time for the adults to realize it too, so we can move forward.'
Moore added there is no comparison between the bullying adults may have encountered 30 years ago, and the onslaught that today's kids encounter.
'Twenty or 30 years ago, kids could come home after a bad day at school, and feel done with it. It wouldn’t spread, and kids were safe in their own home,' she said. Nowadays thanks to social media a text or an embarrassing photo can spread to dozens of students in seconds, at any hour of the day.
'Kids today don’t have a safe place, she added.
Bully Trailer Official 2012: