Almost everyone can relate to stories about bullying. It is no wonder so many movies, TV shows, video games, and other forms of entertainment include bullying themes. When a storyline reflects bullying in the real world, it is as compelling for audiences as it is a powerful tool for change.
This section features suggestions to help the entertainment creative community represent bullying authentically and have a positive effect on audiences through their storytelling.
Brainstorm for authentic bullying storylines
A brainstorm focused on the suggestions below may help inspire you to create original and thought-provoking bullying storylines that take full advantage of the ability to simultaneously entertain and inform. In your brainstorm, consider the:
- Most accurate, up-to-date research to find innovative stories or plot twists
- Many types of bullying behavior—from social exclusion to physical violence—to connect to your audience’s wide spectrum of experience
- True complexity of bullying relationships, including bullying in groups and power imbalances that can shift and defy labels like “bully” and “victim”
- Experiences of those who bully
- Parameters of bullying vs. other types of aggression or competition
- Paths out of bullying situations that are constructive and informative to give viewers options and hope
- Full continuum of bullying outcomes, including when young people involved in bullying become adults, to find a unique voice for your story
- Different points of view, without exalted or demonized characters, so all perspectives in a bullying situation are explored and humanized
Use best practices for creating bullying programming
The other sections of this website can help you construct a frame for your bullying storyline even on a tight deadline. The Best Practices section is a good place to start. You can use the information in Facts About Bullying to find research, debunked myths, and little known facts that can be the basis of interesting, untold stories. If your concern is veritable portrayal of bullying, check out the What to Avoid section for examples of common misrepresentations and how to avoid them and the Expert Help section to find a reliable source.
Add a PSA
Your work may leave audiences with questions about bullying, and interest in what they can do. Consider placing an existing PSA about bullying, or create one in which the talent gives validated information, concrete tips, guidance about students’ rights to be free from discriminatory harassment, and referrals to quality resources—all found on StopBullying.gov.