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Special Needs A Focus In New Film ‘Bully’


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One of the students central to the much-hyped documentary “Bully” has a disability and his family says that his special needs may be one reason why he was targeted.

Filmmakers followed five students who were bullied, including Alex Libby who has Asperger’s syndrome, for the movie which opened last Friday in select cities. In one scene, cameras captured images of students smashing the then-seventh-grader’s head into a school bus seat in 2009.

Libby’s family is shown appealing to officials at the Sioux City, Iowa school district he attended about the abuse, but their concerns were rebuffed.

The boy’s parents say Alex’s Asperger’s syndrome and his difficulty with socialization were likely at the heart of the bullying they later learned had begun in sixth grade. In fact, the bus scene included in the film was precipitated by Alex telling another student that he wanted to be friends.

Libby’s family has since moved to Oklahoma, where they say he is no longer bullied and his grades have improved dramatically. Some of the other students in the film weren’t so lucky, however. Two of the five kids featured committed suicide, reports The Des Moines Register. To read more click here.

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Comments (4 Responses)

  1. fairlady68 says:

    Yes, indeed, bullying is huge for people with special needs as they grow up. I am living proof of that. BTW the “captcha” challenges on these articles are getting way too hard lately. It could limit the abilities of some of us (like me) to successfully post comments on these pages.

  2. Dr. Nora Baladerian says:

    The writer wrote: “One of the students central to the much-hyped documentary “Bully” has a disability and his family says that his special needs may be one reason why he was targeted.” I disagree…it is not the child’s special needs that is the reason for being targeted. It is the hate, or other negative attitudes of those who tease, taunt and bully that is the reason. Bullies choose others whom they perceive as vulnerable and make their attack. Having a disability is not the “reason” for being attacked. Having hate, poor self-esteem, or living in homes in which hate and violence are taught are the reasons for bullying.

  3. Lyric N says:

    Its sad that kids are bullied for something that they can’t control or change. I saw this movie today and seeing the scene where the highschooler started cursing and threatening him (Alex) completely broke my heart considering he only wanted to be friends. It what made that scene worse was that I went with my grade, a whole bunch of kids laughed. That got me mad because all Alex wanted was a friend and the response from the other was only full of hate.

  4. scecil says:

    Hello — has anyone heard of the IDEA? I was going nuts watiching this movie — screaming at the TV. Alex could have been in a much better setting (and from an earlier age too!), maybe a good Nest program for bright HF ASD kids, or even a Gifted program (the smart kids are all their for the same reason — to learn — and friendships/confidence can be achieved there for a bright ASD kid) — Alex seemed to be a zillion times smarter than his dopey peers in that Iowa school. That school is totally at fault on so many levels and to start IDEA Child Find laws. The parents could have found a better placement, maybe even a private placement paid for by the school district. I went through this when my son was very little in kindergarten and it was heartbreaking — I had to pull him out of school. The school called themselves LRE (a least restrictive environment — a general ed school that prides itself on providing good support for special needs), but they really did not get it. The school’s obstinance caused them legal issues which is why my son ended up with a private placement. But sometimes better school districts understand what to do an make great accommodations, understand the need for support and social skills training, etc., But you really need to hold them to the law. Sometimes it is the fault of parents because they are in denial (I’m sorry to say that because it’s very hard for them and I hate to judge). But parents so badly want their kids to be typical that they want to believe if they are smart they can send them off to a general ed school and all will be well. Parents believe there are adults in that school who will communicate with them if anything needs attention, and these adults will be looking out for the child’s best interests. It is so often no the case (even in the most well-meaning schools, never mind totally terrible schools).

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