HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - Educational Media Reviews Online | BEST SHORT - Children's Film Festival SeattleBullying • Children, Youth & Families • Mental Health • Social Studies • High School • Girlhood Studies
Date of Completion: 2017 | Run Time: 15 minutes | Language: English with English subtitles | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript, Discussion Guide, Middle School Lesson Guide | Director: Lisa Cohen | Producers: Lisa Cohen & Eleni Ledesma
CONFESSIONS OF A SOCIAL BULLY offers a first-person account of the harmful bullying that too commonly occurs in schools and its destructive consequences. This short film tells the story of middle schoolers Natasha and Jane, who become fast friends as sixth grade starts. But as Jane excels in school, Natasha grows intensely jealous and increasingly insecure about her own abilities, and she begins using her popularity to ensure Jane’s status as a class outcast for the next three years. At the end of eighth grade when Jane bravely confronts the entire class about their cruelty, Natasha begins what will become several years of examining her actions, her motivations, and the true meaning of compassion. Now 20 years old, Natasha shares her story with candor and insight, reflecting on the destructive impact of her behavior and her journey towards reckoning and transformation. An essential resource to advance students’ social and emotional learning that helps students address bullying in their communities.
Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO) | Andrew Koval, MSLS
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED "Confessions of a Social Bully concisely demonstrates the importance of mental health in junior high school. [...] Audiences will gain a better understanding of the importance of mental health for youth, particularly in a school environment. Best suited for school libraries. To be shown in classrooms or workshops for students, staff and faculty coordinated through a school’s guidance office."
University of Michigan School of Social Work | Todd Herrenkohl, PhD, Professor
“This film [Confessions of a Social Bully] provides a glimpse into the mind and thinking of a young person who comes to realize the impact of what is too often construed as normal adolescent behavior. It’s a powerful example of how self-reflection can help untangle the meaning of behavior gone wrong. Viewers will find the film a very helpful device to open conversations about the nature of bullying and strategies to prevent it."
University of North Carolina School of Education | Dorothy L. Espelage, PhD, William C. Friday Distinguished Professor of Education
"For too long, we have failed to recognize that youth who bully others are in need of intervention just as much as their targets, and until we understand the motives undergirding perpetrators’ actions, the efficacy of our interventions will always be limited. The Confessions of a Social Bully program refreshingly and effectively addresses this gap. Its message will resonate with middle school youth."
Seattle Public Schools | Gretchen Salter, Teacher
"My students connected immediately to the film. They were drawn to the true account of words, actions and emotions of the perpetrator. In the post-film discussion, many students shared their own encounters with bullying, whether they had been targets, bystanders or perpetrators themselves. The film opened up an honest discussion, especially for my quieter students. After class, one student informed me of daily teasing he was experiencing on the playground. The film gave him the courage to speak up and get the help he needed. ‘Confessions of a Social Bully’ empowers students to recognize bullying even when it seems subtle, and to speak up for others and themselves."
NYU School of Medicine | Jess P. Shatkin, MD, MPH, Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Pediatrics, NYU School of Medicine, and author of Born to Be Wild - Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe
“An important story to which parents, teachers, and kids should all bear witness – ‘Confessions of a Social Bully’ tells the all too common tale of relational bullying and its potentially devastating effects. More importantly, this beautifully rendered film provides an opportunity for each of us to examine our own behavior and how we can help our children and our schools to limit the terror of bullying.”
School Library Journal | Recommended DVDs for Elementary, Middle School, and High School Classrooms
"A brief yet powerful conversation starter, with a bully most middle schoolers can relate to. Natasha’s self-reflection tells viewers that the bully and the bullied can and should ask for help."
"Natasha explores her motivations for past behaviors, realizing she acted this way as a means of taking away the pain of feeling bad about herself and being in control. Because the focus is on girls bullying each other, this probably works best for that audience, but boys as well can benefit from learning more about the causes, effects, and types of social bullying. Recommended."
REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH LISA COHENDirector & Producer of CONFESSIONS OF A SOCIAL BULLY
Lisa Cohen, MSW, LSWAIC is a filmmaker, a psychotherapist, and the mother of two teens. Lisa worked as a post producer for over 15 years, on documentaries, feature films, shorts, and commercials. She has won several awards – including a Northwest Emmy – for broadcast projects, and five festival awards for her first short documentary, B-BOY. Lisa’s second film, CONFESSIONS OF A SOCIAL BULLY, has screened for more than 100,000 audience members in film festivals and classrooms around the world, and won Best Short Film in Children’s Film Festival Seattle.
Inspired by her experience making Confessions, Lisa returned to school to earn a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Washington in 2018, where she focused her studies on bullying and social-emotional learning (SEL). She loves working with teens, young adults, and parents in her therapy practice with Seattle Family Support, as well as leading anti-bullying workshops in middle schools, and speaking to parent groups and educators about bullying prevention.
Lisa draws on her career experience, educational and professional training, and parenting journey to provide engaging programming for audiences of all ages.