Have the Conversation: Parents Use Hollywood’s Bullies to Their Advantage

June 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Bullies and Children

Girl with hands signaling to stop in black and whiteSpend a few hours watching television and one thing becomes immediately clear: there is no shortage of bullies on the airwaves.

From Gordon Ramsay on “Kitchen Nightmares” screaming at chefs and telling them how horrible their food is, to the animated Buford on Disney’s “Phineas and Ferb” stringing another character’s underpants up a flagpole, bullies are all over the networks.



Bullying on TV

A study, found in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, reported on the levels of aggression portrayed in reality TV. The numbers show that “American Idol” depicts a whopping 57 acts of aggression during each hour-long program, and a British version of “The Apprentice” weighs in with a disturbing 85 acts of aggression during just one show.

Have a Conversation

In many of these programs, bullying is shown in an unrealistic light with intentions of humor and shock. In some cases, the bully and his or her behavior are accepted among the other cast members, and no one tries to stop it. While many of these shows offer less-than-ideal ways for kids to learn about bullying, they do offer parents a great opportunity to start a discussion about the very serious and all-too-common topic.

There is also a healthy variety of YouTube’s effective (and humorous) anti-bullying videos and  Break’s funny videos to view. With these resources, parents have ample opportunities to discuss and view bullying with their kids, coaching them to avoid being the bad guy and stand up for themselves if the victim.

What is a Bully?

Bullying is a type of aggressive behavior that involves a person deliberately and continually trying to cause another person harm or discomfort, explains the American Psychological Association. Bullying can be physical, verbal or done over the internet. The person who is being bullied has usually done nothing to have caused this to happen — in other words, it is not the victim’s fault; it’s the bully’s fault that this is occurring. Victims traditionally have a lot of problems defending themselves, which may perpetuate the problem.

No Laughing Matter

Although television shows, movies and videos often make light of bullying, in real life it’s no laughing matter. The Stop Bullying website points out that the victims of bullying can have very real physical reactions, including sleep deprivation, self-induced sickness, reclusiveness and they even sometimes contemplate suicide.

Watch Shows Together

Parents who want to talk to their kids about bullying can use one of the many television programs to start the conversation. Although many reality shows may not be appropriate for young kids to watch, family-friendly programs like “Phineas and Ferb” or “Arthur”— which features a character with bullying traits named Binky — can give parents ample opportunities to start talking to their kids about this serious topic. Parents can point out the characters as being bullies and then ask their kids if they know anyone who is like them at school, as well as if they have ever been treated like that by anybody.

Grab a bully by the horns and educate yourself enough to be able to talk to your children to teach them how to recognize and combat a bully.


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