Film - Bullying on the big screen

2nd November 2012 at 00:00
Press play on films that provoke deep thinking and discussion

When children watch films they are transported to another world - a world where the only limits are the boundaries of the film-maker's imagination. A good film invites you into this other world and entertains you. A great film leaves you with a lesson, and can be a powerful educational tool for subjects that require a sensitive touch.

Bullying can be a hugely difficult subject for young people to talk about. A bullied child is often too vulnerable to speak out, a bully might not know the emotional damage their actions are causing, and onlookers may be afraid to intervene in case they, too, become a victim.

Under the theme Making Bullying Unacceptable, education charity Filmclub has curated a thought-provoking series of films that highlight the importance of taking a stand when you see someone in trouble.

Dumbo, Back to the Future, Scrooge and Hating Alison Ashley are great films that contain lessons that will help children to understand the devastating effects of bullying. Most importantly, all feature characters who intervene when someone is being bullied and raise the question of how best to deal with a bully.

Think of Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Bullying is in his nature and he is oblivious to how he is perceived by others. So often bullies act in this way because they are insecure and feel alone. But the ghosts confront Scrooge and in doing so help him to realise the impact of his actions and to change his ways.

Then there's Timothy Mouse, the lovable loudmouth who convinces Dumbo to be proud of who he is and to ignore those who have ridiculed him. Dumbo is bullied because he's different but, as is so often the case, it's his difference that makes Dumbo special, illustrated so beautifully when he flaps his ears and floats into the sky.

All these characters are courageous, admirable and act only out of a need to help others. By speaking out, they change the script - and this can be translated into the classroom or playground. Watching films with a teacher and other young people can inspire informal but effective debates on the difficult subject of bullying and help children to understand what they might be able to do if the problem arises.

The Making Bullying Unacceptable film season is accompanied by detailed film guides, which include review starters and discussion points that help teachers to fully explore the issues raised.

To start a Filmclub in your school visit or telephone 0207 288 4520. The Making Bullying Unacceptable resource is available to download at


Explore bullying by watching Filmclub's suggested films and using the recommended questions to start classroom discussions. bit.lyFilmBully

For more ways to use film in the classroom, visit Filmclub UK's profile on TES Resources. bitly.comtesFILMCLUB.

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