Discussion Questions for the T/F Film “Bully”

Documentaries often don’t show us what should be. They show us what is. Often painfully what is. A documentary film often shows us not what people should say, but what they say—not what people should do, but what they do. And that can be heart wrenching and frustrating.

That’s the case with “Bully,” this year’s True Life film at the True/False film festival this weekend. The Crossing is sponsoring this film as we sponsor the True Life film every year.

So last month we had a chance to screen “Bully.” And I personally found it to be both a heart-wrenching and frustrating film to watch. I wept in several places in the film. Got mad. Frustrated. Sometimes hopeless. It exposes so many cracks that are breaking apart in our culture. And it leaves us with little to do about it by the end of the film.

This film exposes the sad and devastating results of bullying, but just skims the surface in finding any real answers. Perhaps there are no easy answers.

But it raises important questions to discuss. And if it does that, it will well serve its purpose. So if you do see this film, especially if with family members, I’d encourage you to make an opportunity to grab dinner afterward and discuss it together. Perhaps the following discussion questions might help parents talk with their kids or teens, or other groups to use in discussing this film after seeing it.

Here are some suggested questions for discussion:

1. What is bullying? How would you define it?
2. What is at the heart of bullying? Why does a bully bully? What kind of home life or circumstances might create a bully?
3. What circumstances often create a victim of bullying? What causes someone to get bullied?
4. How does this film reveal some of the effects that bullying has on a child or teen?
5. Did the response of the parents in this film frustrate you? What is the role of parents if they suspect their child or teen is being bullied in some way? How can silence or denial on the part parents add to the pain of a child/teen being bullied?
6. Do you feel that this film was fair to the school administration? Is there a role for school instructors/administrators in preventing or responding to bullying? Are there limitations?
7. What if you were in the room when one of these kids/teens was being bullied? What should good-hearted peers do when they know someone is being bullied?
8. Christianity is not always painted in a positive light in this film. Perhaps fairly. How might some “Christians” distort Christianity and justify or participate in bullying?
9. When the lesbian teen describes her circumstances of being bullied, how should Christians have responded differently?

To the degree that this film motivates us to:

1. Have greater compassion on those who are different.
2. Defend the weak/defenseless.
3. See every child and teen’s life in the context of their larger story. An often painful story. They are fighting a battle. That realization should inspire greater care and compassion and mercy and understanding as we relate to them.
4. See everyone as a person who is created in the image of God and therefore worthy of our utmost respect and kindness and love. They are worth caring about and investing in relationally no matter how different they are from us.

To the degree this film inspires any of these things it will have been well worth the watch.

Bully shows this Saturday at 3:30 in Jesse Hall, and Sunday at 3:00 in the Missouri Theatre. You can go to the True/False website for more info here.

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