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Kids Are Cruel

[Children's] ingenuity in finding unexpected ways of doing mischief to themselves and others should never be underestimated.
Lord Hoffman, Jolley (A.P.) v Sutton London Borough Council [2000] 1 W.L.R. 1082

It seems fictionland is inhabited by the worst bullies in existence, always ready to mock you and steal your lunch money, no matter what happened to you, you'll always be different from All of the Other Reindeer. Not even the Littlest Cancer Patient gets a break. Especially not the Littlest Cancer Patient. After a while, it looks like we have a society of youthful sociopaths running around the city. Oh wait...

Note that the victim is almost always the protagonist; at least fictionland doesn't think bullies are good protagonist material... unless they can grow a stubble, that is. In Teen Drama, the Alpha Bitch and the Jerk Jock represent this trope. One way to defuse the abuse is for the kid to make his aggressors realize what they're feeling. This only works if the mean kids are good but misguided though, if they aren't a beat down is in order.

If the target of abuse could easily rip them apart if it wanted and the kids know it, then the kids are Bullying a Dragon (not to mention Too Dumb to Live). And even if the target of abuse is not superpowered at the time, just wait until the bully-magnet that Used to Be a Sweet Kid undergoes a Start of Darkness, possibly as a result of the cruelty of other kids, and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, often at a point when the bullies themselves have forgotten the whole thing.

A favorite for films with grown protagonists is to reveal this as part of their Back Story via Flash Backs.

See also Teens Are Monsters, Big Brother Bully, and Humans Are Bastards. Contrast Children Are Innocentnote . The Royal Brat is a particularly disturbing take on this. Adults Are Useless for when the majority, if not, all the bullying occurs all the time because the adults ignore it or are oblivious.

Sometimes leads to Would Hurt a Child. But all too often the bullying has catastrophic consequences.

Please do not add any real life examples. This trope is Truth in Television, as if we needed to say it, but to list the examples would be asking for an Edit War.

Of course one of the causes for this trope in real life is explained in Developmental Psych. It's called ego-centralism and until a child reaches a certain point in their mental development they don't understand that their actions hurt others as they are not hurt themselves.


The IngenueImmaturity TropesLittle Boy Seeks Big Girl
Kid SamuraiYoungstersKid Sidekick
Kid HeroChildrens Show TropesLittle Professor Dialog
Just a Face and a CaptionAdministrivia/Images Without a SourceKill 'em All
Kick Them While They Are DownCynicism TropesKill the Poor
Betrayal TropesStock AesopsAndrocles' Lion
Keep AwayThe BullyPick on Someone Your Own Size
Jumping the SharkAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Lack of Empathy
I Work AloneCharacter Flaw IndexThe Kindnapper
Kick the Son of a BitchThe Jerk IndexTeens Are Monsters
Kids Prefer BoxesImageSource/PhotographyKiller Rabbit
Kid-Appeal CharacterCharacterization TropesKill Me Now or Forever Stay Your Hand

alternative title(s): Children Are Cruel
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