Academic Rhetorical Essay on The Bully Project

Hi, I am Nathy and I am currently a freshman at Ithaca College. In my Writing for Social Justice class, we had an assignment in which we had to write a rhetorical essay based on a campaign fighting for social justice. I chose The Bully Project and I wanted to share this with everyone who is part of this wonderful campaign. This assignment gave me the chance to research an issue that is affecting our young people drastically and The Bully Project introduced me to the many ways this issue can be eliminated. 

Analyzing The Bully Project

            The Bully Project ( is a campaign working towards eliminating bullying. This campaign was developed by c-Street Campaigns and created with Nationbuilder. The award-winning film BULLY inspired the Bully Project, which following the film’s success continued on as a campaign. BULLY is a 2011 documentary directed by Lee Hirsch about students’ personal experience with bullying. Bullying is a verbal and/or physical abuse that is happening in our schools that is impacting our children significantly. The Bully Project’s goal is to make our schools and communities safer places to be in, which is helped by the website in giving young people the chance to share their stories and start their own bully project.

            The website contains the film’s trailer on the home page. I watched the film a while ago and I was moved by it because it made me realize that this issue strongly affects our students. Other than the trailer, the website’s home page contains the option to join the movement, share a story, and get tools and resources. A few stories are posted on the main page and farther down a list of funders and partners are shown. At the top of the home page one can see what their goal is, which is to reach 10 million kids by screening the film for them. Currently this campaign has reached 7,105,554 kids*. The last time I visited the website, they had reached 3 million kids*; so, in a matter of a week, the number doubled. At the top, there are different links to other pages. The pages are Tools & Resources, Film, The Project, Donate, and Shop.

This is a multimedia production because this website contains videos, graphics, images, text, and an option to share the website on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The design of the website appeals to students and teachers. As one explores through the different pages, one gets detailed information about what the campaign does, how students can get involved, and what ways the problem can be solved. The page “Tools & Resources” contains links providing different sets of tools for each group: Students, Educators, Parents, and Advocates. This way people who fall into these categories can learn what each of them can do to stop bullying. There is also a link with Spanish tools for educators. On the page “The Project”, one can see what the movement is about and what their first goal was (reaching 1 million kids.) One can also join their local bully project, spread the word, and add their story. A way students can spread the word is by hosting screenings of BULLY in their schools. This page describes in detail how students can take that initiative.

            The Bully Project wants to spread awareness about bullying, educate people on how to stop bullying, and give bullied kids the chance to be heard. This website uses all three rhetorical appeals–logos, ethos, and pathos–in order to persuade their audience. The Bully Project uses logos by providing comprehensive tools such as the DVD tool kits for educators and many more to take the initiative in stopping bullying in schools. Once students join the campaign, they will be taken through a set of steps on how to gain skills to take action. They will find tiles that can give them exact activities and procedures to follow to spread the word. Students can start their own movements in their local communities and schools with the information this website gives them. Over 13 million kids are being bullied and these tools and resources prove that bullying can be solved in our society.

The website shows credibility because of the long list of funders and partners. Partners such as Sears, Bing, Cartoon Network, and Harvard Graduate School of Education support The Bully Project, which shows that known companies, television channels, and universities know of this campaign’s existence. Strong social campaigns such as the Human Rights Campaign and the NoVo Foundation are helping and defending this campaign too. The number of kids this campaign has reached also conveys the credibility. As of now The Bully Project has reached 23,106,650 kids*. The last time I checked, 7 million kids* were reached. The number keeps on growing everyday and this could only mean that kids, parents, and teachers trust and believe in this campaign. A great job is being done in spreading the word because this way a lot more people are aware that bullying is a strong issue affecting young people.

This campaign persuades us emotionally by posting the trailer of BULLY and the personal stories students write. The trailer of the film presents different stories, such as the story of a couple who lost their child when he was 11 years old, a young boy whose parents do not know how to deal with the issue, and many others. Different kids explain in detail what they have experienced and evidence of the abuse is shown. Throughout the film parents are reaching out to one another to spread the word. This film portrays the struggle of what it is like to not be heard and gives these people a voice. BULLY evokes sympathy and anger, a need to inspire others and fight to stop bullying, and above all the chance to understand and experience what these families have gone through.

This film opened my eyes. I realized that there are adults out there who do not see what is really going on. Often times principals believe everything is fine at their schools and teachers do not help students because they did not witness what happened. Local state officials often do not punish bullies because they often believe kids are ruthless when they are young and such cruelty is normal. The stories the students write also make one experience the same emotions when seeing the trailer of BULLY because of the unfair pain these kids experience. Both the film and the stories play an important role in persuading the audience emotionally.

The use of social media is significant on this website and in the campaign itself. Social media is important on this website because whenever one clicks a link to open a new page, the option of sharing this website on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram always appears. Each person who shares this website on any of these social networks is contributing to making this website known. Social media helps this campaign grow. Under the “Find Your Bully Project” page, one finds the states in which this campaign exists and functions. The Bully Project also reached Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan. When one clicks on each link, they are taken to the Facebook page of each bully project in each location. Facebook helps this movement stay alive. Anyone can go to the their state or country’s Facebook page and keep up with what the campaign will do next. Social media allows all of the different bully projects to stay connected and work together towards ending bullying by spreading the word to a larger audience.

The Bully Project’s website has strengths and weaknesses. Its strengths are easy to figure out within the website. BULLY’s fame, the number of kids that have joined, the list of funders and partners, and their success with social media make this campaign stronger. The goals and the design of the website add to giving the campaign a positive image. The fact that this campaign surpassed their goal of reaching 1 million kids adds more to their strength. Their method of teaching students how to nonviolently fight to stop bullying from continuing to happen is not only succeeding, but is also exciting. The use of badges to reward students encourages them to do more. The film also increases the growth of the movement because it is global and anyone anywhere could see this film.

Even though this campaign is powerful, there are constraints. A weakness in the website is the lack of language diversity. Spanish is only used once when providing the tools for educators. What if a bullied child’s parents are Latinos and do not know English? How will they understand the tools and resources they need in order to help their child? What if their child cannot translate what is written on the website? What if the child does not share what is going on but the parents know? How can they seek help? The same thing could happen with Chinese parents who only speak Chinese. Who will help them? The website should at least contain the languages mostly used in this country such as Spanish, Chinese, and French so those who do not know English would not be left behind. It is hard to include every single language in only one website but at least if two are incorporated, this campaign will reach a lot more people.

            A few revisions I would recommend on this website would be fixing the scatter of the different links because a lot of them repeat. On the main page the links for sharing a story, getting tools and resources, and exploring the bully shop are repeated twice. These links should be repeated once, either in the top pages or farther down the main page. Since the option of sharing the website on social media appears on every single click one makes, there should not be a separate link with spreading the word through social media. I also think the video from Katy Butler explaining how to take action with the website should be visible the second one enters the website. Having it small on the top left hand corner does not help it stand out. Both the introductory video and BULLY’s trailer should be a lot more visible because I missed both the first time I entered the website.

Overall The Bully Project is a powerful persuasive campaign that is working towards a goal that can improve the lives of our young people. Bullying is a behavior that can cause drastic damage if it is not stopped. Our young people have experienced pain to the point of committing suicide. Parents still struggle with this issue and their children who continue to experience bullying deserve to be heard. The Bully Project wants us to take the pledge, fight for what is right, and make our world a better place for our young people. 


***These footnotes represent the numbers displayed on the Goal's box on the home page. I visited the website daily while writing this essay and one day I saw that 7 million kids were reached and just a couple of days later, 23 million kids were reached. When I visited the website once again today, the number was back to 3 million. I just want to let you know in case you were not aware that this happened. 

Thank you so much. I now am more aware about bullying and I will do my best to spread the word and fight to stop it. 

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