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If Only – Series 1 Episode 3 (2003)

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clip Facing the bully education content clip 1, 2, 3

Original classification rating: PG. This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

An extraordinary reunion after sixteen years between a woman who was bullied at school and her tormentor, the school bully. In year seven, Massiel was a young immigrant to Australia who tried to turn the other cheek when Richard called her a 'wog’. His response was to spit at her.

Curator’s notes

What a warm and generous woman. Her life was made a misery at school during the time she was bullied by Richard. She finds the strength to contact him and to open up her heart so that Richard can find out what such abuse meant to her as a newly-arrived Australian. He’s completely bowled over by her generosity of spirit. He finds the courage to apologise and I would like to think that his life might be more open and honourable after this.

I would have liked more information about his background so that we might see what drove him to be a bully in the first place. That would have required a whole half hour just for this story – and why not?

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows Massiel in an outdoor interview recounting her experiences of being bullied by Richard, a classmate when she was at school – experiences that are shown in re-creation as she speaks. Sometimes a split screen depicts different views or aspects of the story Massiel is telling. She relates her story with vivacity and with no hint of self-pity or bitterness.

Educational value points

  • The clip reveals the short- and long-term traumatic effects of schoolyard bullying. School was ‘hell’ for Massiel because of the bullying she experienced. She felt powerless in her attempts to respond. She remembers the events vividly, ‘as clear as day’, indicating that they are still real to her. Bullying can lead to lengthy truancy, serious depression and self-harm, and some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder from the experience.
  • Massiel’s story reveals the way in which a bully can target their victim by selecting areas of sensitivity and difference to expose in the bullying episodes. Bullies often pick on someone who appears to be vulnerable. This includes those who may be different in some way, just as Richard drew attention to Massiel’s immigrant background and a perceived ‘big nose’. Bullies may also pick on those who are not confident, who are loners or who show anxiety or stress.
  • The clip shows an individual who tried unsuccessfully to deal with being bullied by herself and did not seek support. Those who are being bullied at school are now encouraged to speak to a friend, family member, school teacher or counsellor about the occurrence. There are also phone services and websites for young people to refer to. Schools teach students about bullying and promote the right of every child to a safe and supportive school environment.
  • The clip provides a story of bullying that illustrates the different forms it can take. Verbal and physical bullying are common methods. Psychological bullying such as spreading lies, rumours and ostracising a person is less direct but can also cause harm. There is increasing use of text messaging and negative postings on popular internet sites as a means of bullying. Forms of bullying may vary according to the gender of the bully and the victim.
  • Massiel’s experience took place at a time when there was not the recognition of the prevalence and significance of bullying in schools that there is today. More recently education authorities in some states have made the introduction of anti-bullying policies and programs mandatory in all schools. Many authors have addressed the subject of bullying in books written for children and young adults.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

All other rights reserved.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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