Kids and parents who saw the documentary "Bully" on Long Island this weekend reacted with tears, anger and disgust after watching the story of five victims of bullying across the country, two of whom killed themselves.
"I think it shows how bullying can affect kids mentally and physically," said Jalen Desravines, 11, of Baldwin. "It could really tear someone's heart apart when they're being called names and shoved on the bus."
The film got to Marcus Rhoden, 16, of Wheatley Heights. "I'll be honest, I teared up a little bit," he said. Rhoden saw the film at the AMC Loews Raceway 10 in Westbury on Friday, the day it opened. He admired the gay high school girl from Oklahoma who stood up for herself when peers harassed her.
"Bully" had originally been rated R, but after a grassroots protest, some material was deleted and the film was released with a PG-13 rating, allowing greater access to kids in middle and high school. That's a good thing, many viewers said. "It should be mandatory viewing in every single school worldwide," said Michelle Karen, 24, of West Hempstead.
Said Marissa Rhoden, 15, of Freeport: "It makes you realize this kind of stuff is really going on. Even though you might not see it, it really happens." Marissa was especially touched when people at simultaneous rallies nationwide released balloons bearing names of bullied kids who committed suicide.
"I didn't think it was going to be that good," Evan Howell, 12, said after watching the film. "It was better than I thought."
The film "really touched base with my soul and heart," said 15-year-old Jessica, who said she was so badly bullied in her Nassau County middle school that she enrolled in private high school. She asked that her last name not be printed to prevent further issues.
"It's like verbatim of what I went through," Jessica said. Her social group rejected her and made fun of her; they called her ugly. "I would pretty much cry myself to sleep."
Jessica saw the movie with her mother, who said parents should make an effort to see the movie. "I wish the parents of bullies would see it," she said. "That's who really needs to see it."
The movie made an impression on friends Jared Rhoden and Nigel Margetson, both 12 and from Freeport.
"I kind of thought that bullying wasn't that serious, but now I know," Nigel said.
Jared said the movie changed how he would respond if he saw someone being bullied. "I won't walk away and not say anything. I will confront the person and say something about it."