Photo Credit: Disney's Photo Pass

No matter where you go, you read stories about children being bullied. Schools across the country are working on programs to teach children how to react to bullying and how to avoid being a bully. The act of bullying has changed a lot over the years. These days we not only worry about kids being physically hit/kicked/punched/harmed, but emotionally picked on as well. Name calling is just the start of the taunting that children can do to each other.

Of course, educators can only do so much. As a community we must work together to help the next generation stand up and gain self confidence. The reality is that a lot of bullying is happening at times when teachers and others within the school building may not see it. Kids are smart, and bullies know just how to work under the radar. We often tell our children not to tattle, so they keep these things bottled up. Perhaps they were told by the bully not to say anything or else they would hurt another family member, tell stories to other kids, or worse.

There is no specific type of child that can be the victim of a bully. All kids are susceptible to one of many different kinds of bullying. Kids crave attention, even if it is not the right kind. Children that are not as socially savvy are the easiest targets. They want friends and may not recognize they are being used and abused by their so-called friends. Some children are so hungry for social interaction that they will push the abuse aside for a peer interaction.

So how does Disney play into this? In my former teaching life, I had to work with my students on bullying/self esteem. It took time to listen, watch, and figure out what they were up to. Thanks to social media – there is an entirely new world out there for older elementary, middle, and high school kids. Bullies are not simply like the one seen here on Phineas and Ferb:

My boys are a lot younger, and I was naïve in thinking they were safe from this. Boy was I wrong. My seven year old son has recently been the victim of a bully. Yes, my second grader was sucker punched by another kid in his class. The incident culminated in my husband and I pulling our child out of this school, meeting with the superintendent, and trying to figure out what had been happening. As our son settled down from his world changing, we realized more had been going on behind the scenes. Our son was a victim of a quiet bully who was using power to control our child.

How do you explain this to kids? Can you help them to see using examples that they will understand so they may be able to stand up IF it happens to them?

My brain started to go a mile a minute after seeing a commercial on the Disney Channel. It made me think about bullies in Disney movies. Yes, there are a lot of them. Even in the world of Disney, some not so nice characters appear in movies. Here are a few examples:

  • Lotso from Toy Story – Power hungry bully. He used mind games to make toys do what he wanted, but also had his size and goons to make it work.
  • Step Sisters in Cinderella – Called Cinderella names and used their power to make her do their dirty work.
  • Townspeople in Beauty and the Beast – Judging bookworm Belle by her cover and we all know what they assumed about the Beast thanks to their ringleader, Gaston.
  • People/Elephants making fun, pestering, taunting Dumbo for being different. Think about what Dumbo’s mother did as a result of this.
  • Chicken Little’s townspeople – Made fun of Chicken Little and taunted him for being different and for saying that the sky was falling.

So I ask you, what bullies can you think of from Disney movies?

I am starting to do some research for a series on how to use these films with children at home, in the classroom, and beyond. I would love your help so I can begin to watch old classics with a new focus. Kids love Disney, so what better way to utilize these classic stories and characters while showing our children how to be compassionate and stop the bullying cycle.

Contributed by: Beth L. (NDM#183) Beth is the DDL Education Blogger. She is also the creator of The Angel Forever.


  1. Beth, 
    Cruella DeVil is an obvious one, The uncle in Lion King, the original Parent Trap is always good, they weren’t necessarily bullies, but they did torment each other.  The boys and I talked a lot about bullies the other day while watching Beauty and the Beast.  Gaston is a classic bully.

  2. Steff, it really is amazing how many pop into minds. List being made and will make sure that Cruella and the ones you mentioned are on it. Gaston was top on my lists since my son mentioned him and what he had done.

  3. Great concept.  I think the Lotso bully is what many kids have to deal with these days, working under the radar and manipulating  the adults into thinking that the victim is the one that’s really causing trouble.  We homeshool NDK 49 because our district wasn’t able to deal with the bullies. In Rockford the biggest problem is parents that just don’t care and kids that are largely unsupervised.  Schools have “zero tolerance” codes against bullies, but they tend to have a very narrow view of what sort of bullying is really going on. 

  4. You have hit the nail RIGHT on the head. I agree that the way we teach our kids to handle bullying is the best thing we can do for them, because the bullying itself isn’t going to stop. These kids have figured out how to do it when teachers don’t see or hear it and it’s so difficult to pinpoint them without the whole tattling thing. Just makes my stomach turn. I seriously considered home-schooling after an incident at my DS13’s school, but I just don’t think either one of my kids could handle the non-social aspect of it.

    That being said, I think that Ursula in The Little Mermaid was such a bully too…making promises to give people what they wanted so badly but at such a huge cost!

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