By Jim Roope, CNN
Listen to CNN Radio’s podcast on the petition to change the MPAA rating for the film “Bully” from Jim Roope.
(CNN) - According to the documentary, “Bully,” 13,000,000 kids will be bullied this year in the U.S. The film follows the lives of five kids who are the victims of bullies. The Motion Picture Association of America has given the documentary an “R” rating because of strong language, but a 17-year-old bullying victim is trying to change that.
Katy Butler said she was bullied almost everyday at her Ann Arbor, Michigan middle school.
“I was out as a lesbian, and there were a lot of kids in my school who were really not OK with that,” said Butler. “They taunted me and bullied me and harassed and they slammed my hand in my locker and broke my finger,” she said.
Butler said the MPAA’s “R” rating will mean the very kids who should see it, meaning middle-and-high-school-aged kids, cannot see it.
“The kids who are bullied need to be able to see this movie because it lets them know that we’re not alone and if all of us stand up to the bullies, we can definitely make a change,” said Butler
To help create that change, Butler collected more than 200,000 signatures on a petition. After presenting it to the MPAA, the powerful industry rating arm said it must hold firm to its language standards and so far has refused to change its rating.
Butler said the language in the film is language bullies use in their terrorizing of others and it’s important that kids hear and see it.
Los Angeles psychologist Mark Sergi agreed with Butler and said bullies are victims themselves of a vicious cycle.
“Because they come from family environments where aggression is modeled, or aggression is a result of lack of attention by parents,” said Sergi. “Where siblings would be aggressive with each other; where mom and dad are abusive of each other; they’re physically abusive of each other,” he said.
Aggressive behavior, said Sergi, is a learned behavior. It is then unleashed on the bully’s victims and the results range from victims being hurt, to victims committing suicide, or even to victims lashing out in violent acts of their own as has happened recently.
In Ohio, student T.J. Lane is accused of killing three students when he allegedly opened fire inside an Ohio-school cafeteria. Lane allegedly is a victim of bullying.
Sergi said that kind of violence from the victim is a common link between the victim and the bully.
“They have low self image,” Sergi said.
Katy Butler is hoping to convince the MPAA to reduce the rating on the documentary “Bully” before its release later this month.