'Real Housewives' Set Bad Example: Does Reality TV Encourage Bullying?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on November 08, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Newsflash for all parents out there: Real Housewives may set a bad example for your kids. It seems that since many episodes of reality TV programs display bullying at its finest, some kids might accidentally learn life lessons on how to be unkind to others.

A recent survey of teenage girls by the Girl Scouts Research Institute underscored this conclusion.

What exactly did the survey find?

Some of the survey findings are below, with reality TV viewers versus non-viewers' results:

  • 37% v. 24%: "You have to lie to get what you want."
  • 37% v. 25%: "Being mean earns you more respect than being nice."
  • 28% v. 18%: "You have to be mean to others to get what you want."

These results do seem to indicate that shows like Real Housewives may be imprinting a new generation of mean girls.

It's not surprising, considering the Bravo program seems to glamorize and promote bullying. There was the infamous New Jersey table flip, and numerous catfights. Many episodes of the series also depict grown women hurling insults at each other, calling each other names, and tweeting mean comments. Even more disturbing is that the new season of the Beverly Hills series featured some of the Housewives hiding newcomer Brandi Glanville's crutches. She had broken her foot.

Concerned parents might find some level of comfort in knowing that a number of states have passed laws addressing bullying in schools. Schools also have it in their best interest to protect kids. They could face civil liability in the form of lawsuits if they don't stop students from harassing others.

Parents may also be concerned that their kid is the one who's doing the terrorizing.

In that case, it might be prudent to monitor a child's reality TV intake. Bullying may be learned behavior. Still not convinced that Real Housewives sets a bad example? Listen to what Phaedra Parks, one of the Atlanta Housewives, said to the AP in an interview: "Unfortunately, I do think that reality TV has spawned a whole culture of bullying."

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