A school superintendent in northwest Iowa is responding to media reports that he rejected the showing of a documentary on bullying to students. Sioux City Schools Superintendent Paul Gausman says the movie, which is titled “Bully,” cannot be shown in any schools right now.

“Truthfully, at this time, the district cannot show the film in our schools as the film is not yet ready for school based release,” Gausman said. “When the film becomes available, we will make the appropriate decisions related to how we might infuse the film into the very progressive activities we have already placed in our schools.” Parts of the documentary were filmed in a Sioux City elementary school and one of the students featured in the film is a former Sioux City student.

The Motion Picture Association of America has given the film an “R” rating for foul language, upsetting supporters of the project who believe it will prevent the film from being shown to students to demonstrate the impact of bullying.

Gausman says parental involvement is important in teaching children about bullying — which goes beyond whatever decision is made on the R-rated documentary. “We must have parent engagement to watch a film with that rating,” Gausman said. “Similarly, the solutions for bullying in the American school system must also include parental engagement and community engagement as we enact any programs, curriculum or even documentaries as a solution for the challenges that face the American schools related to bullying.”

The Sioux City School District has partnered with the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention for 12 years in efforts to stop bullying and harassment in public schools.


by Woody Gottburg (KSCJ) and Pat Curtis (Radio Iowa)