15 Movies About Bullying and Where to Watch Them

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The topic of bullying has entered the public discourse in quite a dramatic way over the past decade, and for good reason. According to, this abusive behavior from peers is a pervasive problem that affects 20 percent of children ages 12 to 18 and “research indicates that persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion, and despair, as well as depression and anxiety, which can contribute to suicidal behavior.”  

Ultimately bullying is a complex issue that has a profound impact on perpetrators, victims and bystanders alike; there’s also no real cut and dry solution. What we do know is that awareness is a key component of prevention.  

Still, you don’t have to bore your kid to tears with a soapbox speech about something they may or may not be experiencing. Instead, clinical psychologist Dr. Bethany Cook recommends that parents turn to movies as a means of opening up dialogue without it seeming forced. The expert explains: “Tricking our mind by projecting onto characters (i.e., it’s them, not me) provides the feeling of a safe space, making it easier to be more vulnerable and go deeper with our thoughts and feelings. It also makes us more open to listening, understanding and pondering a different point of view.” 

Of course, film is just one resource to rely on when it comes to the fight against bullying—but it’s a handy one to have in your toolbox, especially when family movie night rolls around. Without further ado, here are our top picks for movies about bullying that promise to help kids, teens and adults gain some perspective on the subject.

1. The Karate Kid (2010)

  • Suitable for: 9+; Rated PG 
  • Run time: 2 hours 20 minutes

This remake of the 80s classic, starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, stays faithful to the original storyline about a new kid in town who is mercilessly beaten up by a pack of bullies until he takes up martial arts and learns to defend himself. That said, parents will appreciate that the update features a slightly younger main character and much of the mature content is scaled back accordingly, resulting in a more age-appropriate watch with all the same positive messages about friendship and what it means to walk a path of peace.

2. Easy A (2010)

  • Suitable for: 14+; PG-13 
  • Run time: 1 hour 32 minutes

Bullying and gossip take center stage in this charming and clever teen comedy, which is inspired by Hawthorne’s classic novel The Scarlet Letter and features Emma Stone as a particularly likable teen heroine whose white lie about going on a date with a college boy spreads like wildfire through her high school and takes on a life of its own. Overall, Easy A is a fun-to-watch flick that manages to broach a whole host of relatable issues—including technology and cyberbullying, the destructive power of the rumor mill and teen sexuality—without losing its sense of humor.

3. Mean Girls (2004)

  • Suitable for: 14+; PG-13 
  • Run time: 1 hour 36 minutes

Teen girls (and anyone who has ever been one) will know exactly what Mean Girls is about just from the title. Indeed, this cult favorite teen comedy focuses on the toxic and mean-spirited social dynamic spearheaded by the popular crowd, plus the effort of one girl (played by Lindsay Lohan) to take them down. It’s funny from start to finish and the portrayal of high school cliques, though exaggerated for comedic effect, is pretty on-point. That said, there’s some mature language and references to teen drinking and sex, so it's best to watch this one with kids who are old enough to already be living it.

4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010)

  • Suitable for: 8+; PG 
  • Run time: 92 minutes

Not to be confused with the (inferior) animated movie from 2021, this live-action adaptation of Jeff Kinney’s popular book series is a bucket of laughs (beware, some of them involve age-appropriate potty humor), featuring a plot about a tween boy’s obsessive desire to elevate his social standing by any means necessary, including changing the way he dresses and even dropping friends. Witty, poignant and highly relatable, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is an excellent catalyst for conversations about status, friendship, the desire to fit in and the benefits of self-acceptance.

5. Carrie (1976)

  • Suitable for: 15+; R 
  • Run time: 98 minutes

Bullying, violence and gore pervade this ‘70s adaptation of Stephen King’s namesake novel—a horror story about a teen girl with telekinetic powers who, having suffered more torture than she can take from her peers (and from an abusive mother, to boot), seeks revenge on prom night. Though it’s plenty disturbing and very bloody, Carrie isn’t nearly as graphic as modern slasher movies and is every bit as thrilling. It’s also an iconic, trailblazing film that depicted bullying and the psychic pain it causes at a time when the issue wasn’t considered a serious topic of discussion, so it’s one of the more thoughtful horror flicks you can watch.

6. The Ant Bully (2006)

  • Suitable for: 6+; PG 
  • Run time: 1 hour 29 minutes

Here, a little kid-friendly movie about a boy who is shrunk down to bug size after taking out his own frustration with being bullied on the anthills in his yard. There are some light scares and plenty of peril (a la Honey I Shrunk the Kids) but nothing the under-ten set can’t handle. Perhaps more importantly, the clever conceit effectively illustrates the ripple effect of bullying, whilst delivering positive messages on the importance of empathy, compassion and teamwork. Bottom line: If you’re looking for a humorous, yet substantive watch for a younger audience, this one fits the bill.

7. Max Keeble’s Big Move (2001)

  • Suitable for: 6+; PG 
  • Run time: 86 minutes

Max Keeble arrives for his first day of middle school with high hopes, but things quickly sour when he realizes he has been identified as the primary target of the school bully, among other things. When he learns his family is moving to another city, he sees an opportunity to exact revenge and what ensues is a series of slapstick pranks that promise to have kids of all ages in stitches. The humor is crude, but in an age-appropriate way, and the antics are dumb, albeit quite entertaining. Still, there’s a more thoughtful side to the movie that can provoke discussions about bullying, both as a childhood phenomenon and as something that, sadly, can persist into adulthood.

8. Wonder (2017)

  • Suitable for: 10+; PG 
  • Run time: 1 hour 53 minutes

Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay star in this deeply emotional family drama—an adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s best-selling book—about a 5th grader with severe facial abnormalities and the truly uplifting and inspiring journey he takes to forge friendships, find his place at school and, ultimately, change the hearts and minds of his peers. Brimming with empathy and positive messages—Wonder is a gentle movie that’s far more wholesome than heartbreaking (but, fair warning, you’re still going to need plenty of tissues).

9. Let the Right One In (2008)

  • Suitable for: 16+; R
  • Run time: 1 hour 54 minutes  

Another horror pick for older teens, this Swedish vampire film stands out from the lighter tween fare like Twilight in that it takes the supernatural subject quite seriously, and the result is both grim and gruesome. That said, what really makes Let the Right One In special is that it centers around a remarkable friendship between two 12-year-olds—Oskar, a sad and lonely child of divorce who is tormented and bullied to no end by a sadistic peer, and Eli, a vampire with a soft side. In fact, the bond between the two children is so poignant that the vampire elements almost melt into the background. Visually stunning and surprisingly calm considering the gore, this one is well worth a watch with any tween or teen who is mature enough to find beauty and light in darkness.

10. Bully (2011)

  • Suitable for: 12+; PG-13 
  • Run time: 94 minutes

If you’re ready to really tackle the issue head-on, you can’t do better than this 2011 documentary, which records the real-life abuse of five different bullied youths. The cruelty is astonishing, the pain is visceral, young lives are destroyed (two of the victims commit suicide and one is sent to a juvenile detention facility for brandishing a gun in an attempt to make her tormentors relent) and the audience gets a gut-wrenching perspective on how helpless bullied children and their parents are, and the myriad ways in which schools are failing to protect them. Bully is tragic, bleak and hard to watch—likely too hard for younger and more sensitive viewers—and there’s seemingly no reprieve. Still, it’s a searingly honest portrayal of a very real issue that deserves to be brought to light.

11. Cyberbully (2011)

  • Suitable for: 14+; NR 
  • Run time: 1 hour 26 minutes

As the name suggests, Cyberbully brings online bullying to the forefront with a timely exploration of social media’s darker side through the lens of a teen victim who experiences relentless abuse almost immediately upon receiving a laptop of her own. Topics like sex, peer pressure, suicide and homophobic hate are discussed, so it’s definitely a film intended for a slightly more mature audience. That said, there are positive messages to be found—specifically with regards to the mother’s proactive approach to handling her daughter’s online harassment—and, again, it’s a cautionary tale worth telling.

12. Bowling for Columbine (2002)

  • Suitable for: 17+; R 
  • Run time: 1 hour 59 minutes

Michael Moore is known for bringing sociopolitical issues to light with documentaries that boast mainstream appeal, and here, the director tackles gun violence by taking a deep dive into the tragic Columbine High School massacre in an effort to uncover what it was that motivated two teenagers to perpetrate such a horrific crime—and yes, bullying is one of the factors considered. Alas, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the film is unable to deliver a definitive answer to such a confounding question. Still, Moore’s film boasts quite a few funny moments, all in good taste, that provide some relief from the heavy subject matter and the disturbing, graphic imagery featured. The end result is a thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking film that will ignite important conversations on a wide range of topics for families with teens old enough to handle the content.

13. Heathers (1989)

  • Suitable for: 16+; R 
  • Run time: 1 hour 43 minutes

This ‘80s cult classic starring Winona Ryder, Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty starts off with a good-hearted teen girl who wants to take down the insufferably mean ringleader of a clique she only begrudgingly belongs to. Things go awry when an enigmatic bad boy offers to help with her innocent quest for revenge, only to entangle her in a far more nefarious plot that starts with “accidental” homicide and ends with attempted mass murder. Ultimately, Heathers is a dark comedy that highlights bullying and the indignant rage it inspires in an entertaining and witty way. However, this once-funny flick seems more eerily prophetic than anything in light of the Columbine High School massacre and subsequent events…but we’ll let you be the judge of how well it has aged.

14. A Silent Voice (2017)

  • Suitable for: 13+; NR 
  • Run time: 2 hour 10 minutes

Silent Voice is a coming-of-age anime film about a young deaf girl (Shoko) who is horribly bullied and abused, both physically and verbally, by classmates until her mother pulls her out of the school. The film begins to take a turn when the leader of the bully pack, Shoya, becomes ostracized himself and begins to feel shame for his behavior. Ultimately, Shoya decides to make amends with his former victim and discovers there’s a possibility of friendship there, though he’s still a long way from redemption. Parents should know that this film is visually beautiful and very enriching to watch; however, it is quite brutal in its depiction of bullying and there are multiple references to suicide that might make it too intense for younger audiences.

15. Luca (2021)

  • Suitable for: 6+; PG 
  • Run time: 95 minutes

Some might take issue with the disobedience portrayed in this movie about two sea creatures who disregard their parents’ warnings and decide to morph into humans and explore life on land, where they will ultimately be exposed and persecuted for their differences. Aside from the act of youthful rebellion, Luca is a little kid-friendly flick that boasts a happy ending and a tender message about courage, friendship and fitting in (or not). Just be warned, the vivid animation and swoon-worthy setting on Italy’s Mediterranean coast might wake you want to book a vacation ASAP.

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