Bullying has always been a cause of great anxiety and concern in young kids, and those in the ARTHUR audience are no exception. Over the past 20 years, we have sought to address bullying in a number of ARTHUR episodes. In fact, the very first episode of ARTHUR, “Arthur’s Eyes”, is a story about Arthur being teased by his friends for wearing glasses.
With the problem of bullying still so prevalent in our schools today, we really wanted to take a more focused approach on the topic and tackle it head on––and the AIM Buddy Project presented our team with the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Our young viewers are at an age where their shifting identities and desire to try new things can sometimes lead to mistakes and hurt feelings. For that reason, we felt it was important to model for kids how anyone can make poor choices (sometimes without even realizing it!) and how you can recover from those poor choices.
And that’s exactly what we did in the episode “So Funny I Forgot to Laugh” (and in the interactive comic of the same name). In “So Funny I Forgot to Laugh”, Arthur is shown as the bully in the story. He repeatedly and increasingly teases his friend, Sue Ellen, about a new sweater. Kids get to see that, as in real life, even a typically kind and considerate kid like Arthur can do or say something hurtful and uncaring.
Acknowledging these behaviors can be hard for kids, and finding a way to apologize to those they’ve hurt or impacted by their actions can be even more difficult. As kids watch Arthur grapple with these issues, realize the deep hurt he’s inflicted, and find a way to give Sue Ellen a true and heartfelt apology, they begin to build the skills they will need if they encounter bullying behavior in their own lives.
Stay tuned! In a future post we will tell you how an episode of ARTHUR is made – start to finish!