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Movies and Intolerance and kids

We went to see Zootopia a while back. Great movie. If you haven’t seen it, I’d definitely recommend it for you and your children.

There are a couple of scenes that younger children may find scary, so do check first. I find that Commonsense Media is an excellent source of information if you’re checking out if a movie or book is suitable for your children. Their parent/child reviews on Zootopia are here.

Anyway, back to it. We had a great conversation with the kids after this movie.

Why do you think all the animals told Judy that she couldn’t be a police officer? How did she prove them wrong? What do you think about that?

Why do you think that the mother on the train was worried about sitting near a lion? What did that make you feel?

Their answers were interesting to say the least.

“It was really mean, mummy. Judy is clever and really fast. She’s a great officer.”

“I’d be really upset if I were that lion, just reading a newspaper. He wasn’t doing anything wrong.”

Then my five year old said, “But it’s just a movie. It’s not even real life.”

So I explained that actually this sort of thing does happen in real life. I gave examples of gender inequality, or racism.

They were horrified. “That’s ridiculous!”

Yes, I agreed. It is ridiculous and very sad.

…but then…

“That’s a bit like Joan refusing to play with Max because he has red hair,” says Miss 9.

“And some people in my class say that Ella has yucky, crazy hair,” says Miss 6. “But it’s just curly and brown.”

And so the list continues. So-and-so doesn’t talk to this kid, because she wears glasses. Kids make fun of another child because they ‘talk funny’. Being told they can’t like something “because it’s for boys” and that that boy was teased because he said his favourite colour was pink. And so on and so on.

Intolerance over differences is everywhere and at every age. It infuriates and saddens me. I’ve talked to the kids about this before of course, but this time was different. The movie shows the issue through a storyline that even young children can understand and relate to.

I’m grateful that my children can identify intolerant and hateful behaviours and label them as wrong, and speak up. To join with friends who are being victimised and to have friends who will stand up with them when it is their turn…as it inevitably will be.

We discuss this a lot – a news story, an anecdote, an unacceptable ‘joke’ they heard – and try to continually arm our children with the confidence to call out intolerant behaviour when they see or experience it.

I’m immensely grateful that Zootopia gave us such a good point of reference to have this conversation and that it helped the children make links to their own experiences and the hateful behaviour that we see every day.

So watch Zootopia. Discuss it. Listen to your children’s experiences and plan a way forward to deal with those situations.

And then watch Zootopia again, because it’s just plain awesome.




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