The teenage years are the most challenging phase of growing up. A lot of learning, social interaction and bonding, emotional development, etc., happens at this age. Children go through developmental changes and would do anything to validate their feelings. Peer pressure, influence and social acceptance are a real deal at this age.
Bullying is one critical aspect that can have a long-term mental and physical impact on the victim and the person doing it.
Children can get involved in bullying for various reasons like peer pressure or social acceptance, and often, the victim cannot muster the courage to speak up against the bullies.
An excellent way to educate teenagers about bullying and its repercussions is through movies. It’ll help them relate to the characters visually, develop empathy and be mindful of their actions. As we all know, if students can see and relate to something, they learn better, so movies are an excellent way to indulge kids in learning, especially about a sensitive subject, “bullying”.
Here’s a list of movies for teenagers that can help you foster healthy discussions about bullying.
This American teenage comedy is the story of an intelligent and charismatic adolescent girl, Bianca Piper.
She feels she has to meet society’s ideal standards of beauty. Bianca and her two friends, Jess and Casey, enjoy their time at the high school when Bianca finds out she is the “DUFF” of her friend group. DUFF stands for “Designated Ugly Fat Friend”, or a person who is not popular in any social group. She gets to know this at a party when talking to her neighbour, Wes, a former friend and football team star. The movie showcases the effect of cyberbullying in real life. Bianca’s video gets viral in her school, and coming to school the next day, walking in the corridor with all eyes on her, and whimpering mouths about her video disturbs her. The film captures the offline impact of cyberbullying and how easy it is for teenagers to fall prey to either side. As the story unfolds, the results are not quite what she expected. Teenagers will be able to relate to the movie’s characters and learn about the ill effects of bullying regardless online or offline.
Harry Potter Series
Most kids have enjoyed Harry Potter movies. As a child, most of them would not have understood the underlying bullying and how Harry was mistreated by most in Hogwarts. However, doing a Harry Potter marathon as teenagers will help youngsters dive deep and read between the lines. Harry is a neglected child, and his cousin mistreats him. Even when he arrives at Hogwarts, most kids tease him. Somehow, he makes a few close friends and with their help, he learns to believe in himself. Teenagers will enjoy the series thoroughly as it’s bound to leave them with nostalgia, a deep understanding of bullying disguised as “harmless teasing” on either end, neglect and the value of having good friendships.
The Karate Kid
This super hit starring Jaden Smith is a must-watch for all teenagers. Apart from addressing the subject of bullying, the movie will help youngsters understand the importance of discipline, consistency and having a positive attitude towards life. The story is about a teenage boy who moves to a new town and faces bullying from a group of kids who study martial arts. However, with the help of his teacher, the boy manages to solve the problem. The movie can be a good point of reference to have your students’ confidence in opening up about such issues with teachers and seeking help and support. He learns karate to defend himself, and in the process, he also understands the value of other key things. Also, this movie has a classic 1984 edition too.
This is a popular teenage movie starring Lindsay Lohan. Cady enters public school for the first time in high school. All that she knew about schools and the world flips upside down as she navigates through the tough teenage high school life in a girl group dynamics. The movie portrays the common girl-on-girl problem most teenage girls experience. Girls have a way of making other girl/s feel useless, inferior, self-conscious and, in extreme cases, even afraid to come to school. The movie showcases critical issues like bullying, fame, wanting to be the “popular kid”, and other common teenage issues in a relatable manner where name-calling, verbal taunting, and gossiping are at the root. Teenagers will enjoy the movie thoroughly for its hilarious take. They will also learn about the negative impact and the consequences of participating in bullying of any sort.
A Girl Like Her
The movie revolves around a high school girl who tries to attempt suicide and how Avery, a popular clique leader harassing her, becomes the target and reason for the girl’s suicide attempt. The story unfolds differently as Jessica’s documentation from her hidden camera comes to the surface as she’s been wearing a hidden camera to document herself. The movie attempts to show both sides of bullying issues. It covers the theme of growing up in a dysfunctional family. Teenagers will get familiar with the harsh side of bullying, and the extreme consequences, like it can be life-threatening. We recommend the screening under adult supervision and a thorough discussion post-screening.
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
This is it if you want to pick just one movie from this list. This new-age movie has a fresh take on friendships and addresses sensitive issues of sexuality, teenage love, and bullying. It is based on the best-selling book by Stephen Chbosky, who also directed the film. The characters, victims of ruthless bullying, find strength in their friendships. Charlie, a 16-year-old kid, gets bullied at school and avoids taking the school bus for the same reason. He walks 40 minutes home to avoid his bullies. Later he builds healthy friendships and seeks professional help to overcome his fears and depression caused by the unpleasant experiences he faced throughout his life. Unlike many teenage movies that show fake friendships based on popularity, gossip, jealousy and competition, the film redefines interpersonal relationships concerning connection, understanding, support, acceptance, love and care. The movie depicts how the wallflowers share suffering experiences with Charlie allowing them to form an incredible bond. The film will leave you smiling, nostalgic, crying, and full of emotions.
About a Boy
The story is about Marcus, who is avoided and teased by his classmates for his peculiarity. He befriends Will, a good-looking, smooth-talking bachelor who is immature, self-centred and aims to avoid any responsibility in life. Will let him use his apartment as a hideaway from the bullies. Initially, Will encourages Marcus to try to fit in, but perpetually, Marcus learns to embrace and love his uniqueness and find happiness. A hilarious watch with a solid cast, including Hugh Grant.
Name-calling, taunting, mean remarks, teasing or saying hurtful things are a part of bullying. These often get ignored as they may not show up as any effects when compared to physical bullying, which commonly presents with visible injuries, scars, bruises and even scary sight of blood. However, like physical bullying, any form of bullying presents comes with adverse mental and physical effects and can escalate into major mental and emotional problems.
It is essential that students, especially teenagers, learn about the consequences of their doings and be mindful of their actions and words.
Watching these movies with students can be an excellent icebreaker and help foster healthy discussion around this sensitive topic – “bullying”.