At age 14, Dawn-Marie Wesley hung herself in her bedroom using the family dog's leash. She left a suicide note which named three girls from her school whom had systematically bullied and ... See full summary »
2 wins. See more awards »


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Trevor is a troubled high school student, thanks to the effects of bullying. This is the story of his fight to break free.

Director: Guy Ferland
Stars: Tom Cavanagh, Ben Foster, Randy Harrison
Klass (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An average guy of an Estonian high-school decides to defend his bullied classmate. This starts war between him and the informal leader of the class. As teenagers' honour is a touchy thing, everything ends in bloodshed.

Director: Ilmar Raag
Stars: Vallo Kirs, Pärt Uusberg, Lauri Pedaja
The Only Way (2004)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Devon Browning is viewed as an outcast and is a victim of physical and emotional abuse from his classmates. After a tragic death in his family, his life begins to fall off course. He ... See full summary »

Directors: Levi Obery, David Zimmerman III
Stars: Billy Kearney, Victoria Corwin, Dustin Reinmann
Good and Bad at Games (TV Movie 1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Ten years after leaving school, Cox, bullied and constantly humiliated in his schooldays, seeks out his former classmates in order to be revenged.

Director: Jack Gold
Stars: Martyn Stanbridge, Anton Lesser, Laura Davenport
Zero Day (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Two troubled adolescents chronicle the events that ultimately lead up to a terrifying assault on their school.

Director: Ben Coccio
Stars: Cal Robertson, Andre Keuck, Serataren Adragna
Blackbird I (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An alienated teenager's posturing online threat ignites a firestorm of fear in a small community.

Director: Jason Buxton
Stars: Connor Jessup, Alexia Fast, Michael Buie
Home Room (2002)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A high school shooting has repercussions on the town and students.

Director: Paul F. Ryan
Stars: Busy Philipps, Erika Christensen, Victor Garber
Klass - Elu pärast (TV Series 2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The series deals with the aftermath and overcoming the tragedy of a school shooting from the point of view of surviving pupils, their teachers and parents.

Stars: Laine Mägi, Liina Joonas, Imre Paabo
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

When 16 year old Scott Byers decided to bring a camcorder to school, none of his schoolmates ever imagined what was to come... See full synopsis »

Director: Benjamin Louis
Stars: Douglas Smith, Kris Lemche, Drew Tyler Bell


Credited cast:
Cindy Wesley ...
Interview Subject
Kyla-mae Keserich ...
Interview Subject (as Kyla Mae Dunn)
Rosalind Wiseman ...
Interview Subject
Daniel Wesley ...
Interview Subject
Karen McQuade ...
Interview Subject
Paula Settee ...
Interview Subject
Kevin Gillies ...
Interview Subject
Randy Hawes ...
Interview Subject
Lee Hanlon ...
Interview Subject
Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
David Delaney ...
Reenactment Cast
Laura DeRuiter ...
Reenactment Cast
Dana Drury ...
Reenactment Cast
Crystal Enciso ...
Reenactment Cast


At age 14, Dawn-Marie Wesley hung herself in her bedroom using the family dog's leash. She left a suicide note which named three girls from her school whom had systematically bullied and threatened her. The three girls were held accountable in a precedent setting court case. Relational aggression, suicide, bullying, Restorative Justice and the actions and consequences of not only the three bullies but also that of their victim, are explored in depth. Written by Ray Buffer

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

girl | suicide | school | leash | bully | See All (30) »


No one heard her cry for help until... it was too late.





Official Sites:



Release Date:

4 June 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Rats & Bullies: The Dawn-Marie Wesley Story  »

Box Office


$120,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


References Mean Girls (2004) See more »


Dead Inside
Written and Performed by Exit 104
Guitar:  Kevin Jones
Vocals: Stephen Lofstrom
Drums:  Nigel Silbernagel
Bass:  Alison Spence
Keyboards and Background Vocals: August Ustare
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

This Documentary is a Must See
17 June 2004 | by (Sherman Oaks, CA) – See all my reviews

I usually don't go to the movies to watch documentaries. When I think of a documentary I am reminded of those stuffy films we all had to watch about bees and pollination in grade school, or those historical "film-strips" with poor audio recounting the final days of the Civil War.

This past weekend I attended the DancesWithFilms Film Festival, celebrating its 7th year and held in Santa Monica. This year's festival offered a bevy of short subject films, feature-length fiction films, along with a handful of various sized documentaries. Upon reading the synopses provided inside an attractive glossy program, one film in particular caught my attention: a documentary film called "Rats & Bullies".

The film is about a teenaged 9th grade girl named Dawn-Marie Wesley from British Columbia, Canada, who after being taunted and bullied by a trio of girls from her school, elected to hang herself using her own dog's leash. She had left a suicide note below her, addressed to her parents, her younger brother and her best friend explaining in exasperated fashion her hopelessness and depression: ".Mom, if I tried to get help it would have gotten worse. They are always looking for a new person to beat up, and these are the toughest girls. If I ratted, I would get them kicked out of school, and then there is nothing stopping them."

Dawn-Marie's 13 year old brother would be the one to walk in and discover her horrifying choice. Legal history was made as the three girls were charged for their role in Dawn-Marie's death.

I couldn't help but marvel at the superb timing in the release of this story in light of all the recent attention being given to youth crime and bullying. I was also curious about how the filmmakers would approach the delicate subject of teen suicide, which is probably every parent's worst nightmare. I knew that I had to see this film.

I learned that each film only played once, and "Rats & Bullies" had quite an early showing. I usually like to sleep in on Saturdays but I arrived just in time for the 11:00 AM film. The theater was already dark and crowded and a clever instructional short on how to rate each film for the festival's competition had just begun.

Rats & Bullies began with an impressive array of data on children who have committed acts of violence to themselves and others due to bullying from around the world. Quickly the story settled on Dawn-Marie Wesley as the narration stated "This is her story" and then launched into an upbeat introduction which gradually enveloped the viewer into the surroundings of a small town called "Mission" within British Columbia.

As the interviews began, I immediately felt an intimate connection with each person that spoke. The dialogue was conversational with very little camera movement or interruption as the story of how Dawn-Marie was bullied unfolded through the words of her family, friends and one of the bullies themselves. Spliced with these interviews were illustrative scenes by whom I later learned to be local teen actors portraying the girls in the story. I found these scenes to be very helpful in displaying the events clearly and succinctly.

I was moved on more than several occasions by the grief and incomprehension on the faces of those in the film, who I now felt I knew personally. After taking the audience chronologically through the events of bullying and the death of Dawn-Marie, the filmmakers Roberta McMillan and Ray Buffer followed the story through the court trials and the emotional wreckage left in the destroyed lives of the survivors.

Though the story was sad and moving, this accounting of the treachery and cruelty of teen girls did have some uplifting and humorous moments. Rosalind Wiseman, a Washington D.C. based author of prominence due to her recent book "Queen Bees and Wannabes" on which the light-hearted film "Mean Girls" is based, was also interviewed as part of "Rats & Bullies". Her advice and allegories provided much wisdom. I was also captivated by the short story of another mother named Karen McQuade from the same small town of Mission, British Columbia who had prevented her son from taking his life due to bullying.

I was impressed with the sensitivity shown by McMillan and Buffer in the telling of this sorrowful tale. They succeeded in showing that everyone involved had choices to make and that those choices came with a price. I came away from the film having learned something not only about what is known as "relational aggression" but also about myself. I am a bully. I saw behaviors and conduct within this film by bullies that I myself had done. "Rats & Bullies" can teach you something about yourself, keep your attention, and move you. It is the type of documentary that I should have been shown in grade school, rather than the one about beehives. I hope this film gains a theatrical release so that everyone will have an opportunity to see this movie. It has been a while since I applauded a film, but mine were two of the many clapping hands during "Rats & Bullies" end credits, as we, the audience, showed our appreciation for a fine film.

"Rats & Bullies" contains some strong language, but should be appropriate for teens and up.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: