"It's funny how people who simply say "stand up for yourself" never, ever, tell you how
to stand up for yourself. Even adults find it difficult to defend themselves against the onslaught of bullies, especially a serial bully."
In Real Life
, school bullying happens when a child knowingly tries to destroy another child by using various means (insults, bashing, rumours…) The Bully manipulates perceptions of adults and often manages to make them believe that his/her target is to be blamed
. This can last for months, sometimes years, can be really traumatizing and often leads to PTSD or suicidal thoughts. The term 'bullycide' defines what happens when these suicidal thoughts caused by bullying are put into action. Some kids may be bullied even though they have a black belt in karate, have a lot of friends, are very beautiful or have a great sense of humour.
Occasionally, there'll be a lighter, softer take on bullying, often in children's shows:
1. X bullies Y because Y is nasty, socially awkward or ugly
. The viewers are supposed to side with X because X is better-looking
or the narrator
. Sometimes the bullying just stops just after Y stops acting like a geek (if male) or gets a makeover
2. X bullies Y but it turns out that X is secretly in love with Y or envious for any reason. Y decides to have a talk with X and at the end of the episode, X and Y become best friends forever.
3. X bullies Y until Y decides to learn kung fu
or just says stop bullying me, I don’t like it
. Then X gives up bullying forever.
4. Y mentions that he/she was bullied at school and was actually made stronger by the bullying. Y never suffers from any kind of trauma.
The most common counter argument against bullying, aside from "blame the victim," is that no bullying, in fact, is taking place. People using this line of argument will state that a given situation is simply a case of "survival of the fittest" (i.e., the strongest, fastest and savviest were always more popular due to their abilities to accomplish and get results), that someone has the right to choose whom he/she wishes to be friends with, and that those claiming to be bullied were simply disappointed they either did not share the same successes as more gifted classmates, were not part of elite or "popular" social circles in a community (or, in some cases, were not even part of the community's social fringes), did not always get invited to birthday parties involving popular kids, have a date request from the most desirable boy/girl in class accepted
, or had other mitigating factors that caused them to not obtain desired, coveted friendships. Sometimes, as part of the "blame the victim" argument, the accused bully will claim that an unwanted friendship is being forced upon him/her, particularly if a classmate is awkward or otherwise doesn't have the same interests, chemistry or other things it takes to become friends with and maintain said relationship.
Also see Kids Are Cruel
and The Bully
As stories about bullying appear more and more often on the news and online, particularly ones involving cyberbullying (which takes the abuse far beyond the school itself), this is becoming more-and-more of a Dead Horse Trope except
that stories of Type 2 can and do happen
, as proven by British magazines. (So it's in limbo between Dead Horse Trope
and Undead Horse Trope
.) In any case, many more recent works give a much more honest take on bullying, often with advice that can actually help.
- Harry Potter: Luna Lovegood just smiles and shrugs it off when people steal her things or give her nicknames, though her bedroom reveals that Harry & co.'s friendship is a bigger deal than she let on.
- Subverted with Severus Snape as he still hates his bully, James Potter, years afterwards, even after he stopped being a dick. As Sirius points out, Snape gave just as good as he got. By the point James had reformed, Snape joined the nascent Death Eaters, who bullied half-bloods and "mudbloods", turned into a blood purity organization that was a cross between the Nazi party and KKK, and even after he switched back to the good side Snape wound up turning into a Sadist Teacher who took his childhood resentment out on his bully's son.
- Done weirdly with Harry, who does not appear to suffer any major lingering trauma from his abusive and unhappy childhood, but who does have a great deal of empathy for other bullied kids - to the point where he suffers a Heroic BSOD when he sees his father and godfather horribly bullying Snape in a Pensieve Flashback.
- The behaviour of characters such as Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson could also be considered bullying and Rowling has received letters before from fans that said that something they read in the books helped them to deal.
- Judy Blume’s Blubber describes kids' cruelty and lack of empathy very well.
- Ashley from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is bullied by another girl. It turns out that the bully had misunderstood her and they just exchange a few words and reconcile. Their parents, on the other hand....
- Averted in The George Lopez Show. Carmen is a victim of Slut Shaming after her ex-boyfriend falsely tells everyone they had sex. They even vandalize her house. Even though her parents George and Angie manage to get the leader of the bullies suspended and get her ex to tell the truth, she continues to get bullied. George and Angie eventually transfer her to a private Catholic school.
- The Big Bang Theory:
- Friends: Ross, Chandler and Monica all mention they were bullied growing up in various capacities. It's played for laughs, even though some of the stuff sounds horrible and they suffer lingering affects.
- In 30 Rock, Liz goes to a Class Reunion bent on Reunion Revenge against the Girl Posse and other bullies who made her life hell. She discovers that everyone at her school thought she was a bully — what she saw as hiding within a Deadpan Snarker shell, everyone else saw as being thoroughly and devastatingly bitchy in response to the slightest confrontation. And it was far from harmless for several of them.
- One episode showed a group of two boys who bully another kid and think it is harmless until they accidentally drown him and it comes back to haunt them 35 years later when his ghost starts killing off their loved ones.
- Also "Wishful Thinking" had a bullied kid gain Super Strength and decide to turn the tables against his tormenters. It's hard to feel bad for them, even when it's clear the kid is well on his way to becoming a supervillain. Eventually he loses his powers, but Dean pretends he still has them just so the other kids will leave him alone.
- Yet another episode dealt with a character that was a victim of bullying and a bully himself, who had committed suicide, and spent a majority of the episode possessing victims of bullying and causing them to enact bloody revenge.
- On Family Guy, Meg suffers from Type 1. She is occasionally harassed by Connie D'Amico, a blond, petite popular girl at James Woods High School. Some people find it acceptable since Connie is slimmer and prettier.
- In the French animated show Lou !, twelve-years-old Lou has been bullied by the same girl since kindergarten. However, Lou doesn't suffer from any kind of trauma and her best friend is the only person who noticed anything. One day, Lou decides to tell the bully how fed up she feels, and the bullying stops, even though the girl is One Head Taller than Lou.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
- Type three is shown in the "Sonic Rainboom". The same bullies, as colts, show up in the flash back episode "Cutie Mark Chronicles."
- Another Type Three shows up in "Call of the Cutie".
- Averted in "Hurricane Fluttershy", where it's shown that the teasing Fluttershy received is a major factor in her lack of flight strength and ability, due to being insecure from said teasing to really build it up and push herself.
- Played with in "One Bad Apple". Babs Seed's bullying is played as genuinely hurtful to the CMC and far more seriously than Diamond's. The forgiveness at the end as well as her motivation comes very close to a Type 2. Played straight in that adults take no action. Babs' bullying is the result of being bullied so badly that she's left deeply insecure about her lack of a Cutie Mark and is envious of the CMC's condfidence in this area, and only bullied the girls to keep from being bullied herself.
- Played with again in "Flight to the Finish", where Diamond Tiara ups her usual Type 1-ish bullying into taunting Scootaloo's physical disability of not being able to fly. After a pep talk from her hero, she's more or less over it (so far), but the duration of the episode, it got to her a lot more than anything else had.
- Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot When a girl named Madison keeps bullying a girl named Kaylee, the Care Bears advise her to tell Madison how she feels and even give her tips on body language. When Madison still refuses to stop the bullying, the Care Bears use a Care Bear Stare and Madison is forced to cool down and explain why she's been bullying Kaylee. It turns out it was a case of jealousy. They agree to be friends, but if not for that Care Bear Stare...
- Type 2 on TOTO (This One and That One), a short-form series featuring two young cat-people, This One and That One, airing on-demand on a service called Kabillion on some U.S. cable/satellite providers. When a bully takes This Ones's sandwich, he and That One brainstorm ways to beat the bully, but are overheard by their Mom. She explains that the bully is worried because he might be about to fail math and is trying to make himself look tough. This One and That One reveal that they know his secret and offer to help him with his math, and it works. It can be watched officially, for free, here.
- Hey Arnold!:Helga Pataki is an example of a realistic approach of why she would bully the boy she has a crush on —the titular Arnold. She comes from a home with an implicitly alcoholic mother, and an neglectful father and is The Unfavorite finding compared to her older, prettier, more academic sister Olga. Though this doesn't excuse her actions it is a backstory that lends her bullying ways Truth in Television because she comes from a bully making environment. Arnold is one of her main targets and, due to her crush on him, she's aggressive and insulting to everyone around her.