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Social Media Brings Bullying Issue to the Forefront

The power of social media to bring about change has been made evident once again with recent campaigns for the upcoming Weinstein Company documentary film Bully, which has spurred an online petition to the Motion Picture Association of America, a Twitter campaign and more than 400,000 views of the film’s trailer on YouTube.

The feature film is set to be released March 30. However, the film has an R rating for language. Change.org and a high school student have gathered more than 200,000 signatures on an online petition to the Motion Picture Association of America urging it to lower its rating to PG-13 so it can be seen by its target audience – older children and teens.

Bullying has reached a crisis point in America. According to the film, more than 13 million children are bullied each year. Some resort to violence, such as bringing a gun to school, whereas others turn their pain inward and commit suicide. Schools nationwide now regularly run anti-bullying programs that address students from kindergarten through college.

This week Twitter was on fire with support for Bully. Tweets were flying left and right Monday in the #BullyMovie effort, which resulted in a 100-time increase in conversation about the film.

Bringing bullying to the spotlight has become a national priority. After the September 2010 suicide of bullied Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, author and activist Dan Savage launched “It Gets Better,” a campaign of videos urging LGBT youth to stand up to bigotry and outlast bullies in their teen years.

And now the Cartoon Network has joined the effort against bullying with its first documentary, Speak Up, which airs March 18. It’s a film of kids speaking to kids ages 8 to 13 about all the levels of bullying, from the perspectives of the bully, the victim, and the bystander. Cartoon Network also has some big stars who influence kids talk about their experiences with bullying: NBA superstar Chris Webber, BMX champion Matt Wilhelm, and the hosts of Cartoon Network’s Dude, What Would Happen, among others.

As of Friday morning, the R rating stands for the film Bully. What are your thoughts on the MPAA rating? Should it be lowered, or kept at R to warn parents of offensive language?

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