The Bully Effect- A Review

By: Paulet Biedermann

“The Bully Effect,” a most poignant illustration of the emotional pain, torment and desperation suffered by not only the victims of bullying, but their families, schools and ultimately the community. The play written and produced by Gita and Chris Ashley of Growing in the Arts Dramatic School, was absolutely outstanding. The message was simple, clear and powerful-Bullying destroys lives. Overall, a very educational and entertaining story. Despite the seriousness of the topic, it was presented in a very light-hearted and sometimes comical way. The cast, all local, did an amazing job of not only captivating the audience, but was able to retain their attention with their masterful performances. The play looked at schoolyard bullies, family origin bullies, sibling bullies, workplace bullies and bullies at community parks. It also highlighted the role of social media in the bullying crises. The Bully Effect took an all-encompassing look at the current trend of bullying and the adverse effects on victims and families.

The play’s focus was balanced in that it highlighted and show-cased the issues of the bullies as well as their victims. There are a couple of heart wrenching scenes that depicted one in which the parents of a bully, could be seen bulling one another which clearly impacted the behavior of the bully. It was evident that he modeled his parents. Another touching scene was when a boy confronted the bully on behalf of his friend who was being bullied. He wound up with a black eye from the bully. This got his parents involved who in turn met with the school authority to discuss the issues of bullying.

There was also a glimpse of the insensitivity of one of the school principals.
The most painful and tear jerking scene, however, was the disappearance of a pre-teen girl following prolonged bulling by three other girls both verbally and via the medium of social media. This girl was young, beautiful, bright, kind hearted and caring. She was shunned and ostracized by her peers and former friends. After several fruitless attempts to reconnect with her ex- friends-the bullies, she finally succumbed to ultimate cry for help, suicide. It was only after her suicide that the community, families and schools started looking at the issue of bullying with the seriousness it warrants.
The Bully Effect was a great learning opportunity for all. It was successful in highlighting some the life altering and devastating effects of bullying: depression, anxiety, fear, poor academic performance, lowering self esteem and confidence, to name a few.

The one area that was touched on or highlighted was the long term consequences for the victims. The reality is, when kids are exposed to bullying, they often internalize the view of self based on based on the bully’s verbal and emotional abuse. It’s hard to detect and or treat as it’s on a subconscious level. These victims often suffer in silence and this is partly why the violence turned towards self is the ultimate act – suicide.
The bully Effect is a moving production which had most of the audience in tears at some point or other throughout the play. This was especially noticeable following the suicide of the bullied girl. There are several moral lessons from this play, albeit the most salient is the message that the issue of bullying is an ‘US’ issue and in a lot of cases, one voice can make a huge difference.

The issue of bullying is a real crises and it affects millions of kids and adults worldwide. Bullying is sad, bad, evil and criminal, and should be dealt with accordingly. It can be classified in the same light as class A drugs in that once it enters your life, it leaves a permanent wound; left untreated, it becomes infected and the rest is obvious. The Bully Effect is a must see and quite frankly, it should be seen by families, students and professionals working in the school system.
Overall I rate this play a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Author's Bio: 

Paulet Biedermann is an author, motivational speaker and personal development advisor. She is a former psychotherapist and counsellor. Her book, "Your Best You" is a psychology/personal development guide.