A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Speak Up's empowering message reminds kids that it's impossible to fight bullying with silence; the only way to combat it is through communication and by telling someone that it's going on, whether you're the victim or an observer. The tween and teen subjects' personal accounts are touching and at times upsetting, but many take a hopeful stance on the subject by discussing how their own coping tactics have helped them overcome difficult relationships and build friendships in their place.
Positive Role Models
In addition to the kids' inspiring accounts, a handful of big-name celebs weigh in on the issue of bullying and talk about how they were affected by it during their childhood. NBA star Chris Webber, BMX pro Matt Wilhelm, actor Jackson Rogow, and NASCAR legend Jeff Burton share memories about being bullied or, in a couple of cases, bullying others to try to be "cool." But their messages are in line with Speak Up's commitment to encouraging communication about the issue. On the downside, some kids say that parents, teachers, and other adults tend to trivialize the issue of bullying.
Violence & Scariness
No violence is shown, but the subjects talk about being bullied physically.
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In one segment, a subject holds a sign with some of the names she's been called, like "bitch," "whore," "lesbo," "slut," and "fag." Other personal attacks include "ugly," "fat," and "stupid."
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Products & Purchases
In one tween's story, she shows a video clip she made and posted on YouTube, and the website's logo is visible.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Speak Up is a short but powerful documentary that deals frankly with the issue of bullying among kids and tweens, as discussed by a panel of subjects who've experienced (or are experiencing) the damaging effects of being victimized. The kids' firsthand accounts are emotional, as they discuss how the torment affects their self-esteem, enjoyment of school, and even eating habits (as a result of being called "fat"). From a parent's standpoint, it's tough to listen to the kids' heartbreaking stories, but it's an eye-opening experience that will change how you interpret the potential signs of bullying in your own kids and their friends -- which makes Speak Up a great documentary to watch with your kids and discuss after. The show's theme reminds kids to speak up if they see bullying going on, and this is reiterated by the tweens as well as celebrities like Hope Solo, Lisa Leslie, and even President Obama. As for content, expect to hear a laundry list of names that kids call each other ("ugly," "stupid," "fish lips") and read some stronger ones ("bitch," "whore," "slut," "fag," "lesbo") on a sign held by a tween who's been victimized by them. Under the CCPA law you have the right to protect your personal information. Make a Do Not Sell request to Speak UP.
Is It Any Good?
As a parent, it's impossible to hear these tweens' stories and not imagine your own kids in a similarly heartbreaking situation. Watching with as a family is a great way to jump-start a discussion with your kids about their own feelings and experiences with bullying. We've all heard the saying about sticks and stones -- and chances are, that was our own first line of defense when the slurs were slung our way on the playground. But as the tweens in Speak Up will tell you, it's a different world now, and today's bullies have a much bigger arsenal of threats to unleash on their victims. As a result, it takes a proactive defense to hold your own, which is why Speak Up's message is so important for both kids and parents to hear.
Speak Up is less gritty than the more well-known documentary on the same subject, Bully, and its messages of empowerment and standing up for what's right are targeted toward grade-schoolers and tweens more than the teen set. The content targets the concerns that are on kids' minds: "If I tell someone, they'll think I'm a snitch," "Maybe if I ignore it, it will stop," and "What did I do wrong?" Guest celebrities, kids, and experts offer real-world advice on coping with bullies, reflecting Speak Up's overriding theme of speaking up to fight back and reminding kids that asking for help in a tough situation is a sign of strength rather than weakness. What's more, parents who haven't had to cope with this issue firsthand will gain a better understanding of its far-reaching effects from these kids' poignant accounts and should be more aware of the warning signs as a result.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.