An activity on the themes of our project.
Suitable For: Key Stage 3 or 4
1)To help children distinguish between benign teasing and harmful bullying.
2) To get children thinking about the effects of their actions on others.
Clear a space in the classroom for pupils to work in, or work in a school hall. Put two pieces of A4 paper up at either end of the room, on the walls. One should read ‘Completely Acceptable’ and the other should read ‘Completely Unacceptable’. If possible, mark a line across the classroom between the two points (this could be on the floor, or as a ‘washing’ line).
Teachers might want to change the names below if necessary, to avoid referring to pupils in the class.
Tell pupils that it is often difficult to tell what actually is and is not bullying, and the activity they will take part in will help them with deciding between the two, and taking action appropriately.
Tell pupils that you are going to read to them a set of scenarios which vary in their nastiness. For each scenario pupils should stand somewhere on the line between ‘completely acceptable’ and completely unacceptable’, to show what they think of the behaviour of the perpetrator. If necessary, pupils can stand one behind the other at a certain point on the line.
Explain that pupils won’t be judged for their answers, but they should be prepared to give a reason for their responses.
Read, give pupils time to respond, and then discuss each of the following scenarios.
Discussion might include (a) the intentions of the perpetrator(s), (b) the targets’ possible range of reactions, (c) how those who enacted the original behaviour might respond to the given peers’ reactions, and (d) whether, if possible, pupils would want to take steps to change the perpetrator(s)’ behaviour in future.
1. Jane walks into the school canteen and sees a friend of hers, Jess, holding hands with a boy they both know. The boy walks off before Jane gets over to Jess. ‘Ooooh, so you’ve got a BOYfriend…’ she says to Jess. Jane laughs.
2. Jack is shorter than most of the boys in his year. Other pupils make fun of his height, but he enjoys the attention, and laughs about it, too.
3. Paul sees one of his good friends, Tom, sitting on his own at break-time. ‘Hi there, loner!’ he calls, jokingly. Paul blushes.
4. Lola is a really good mimic. She does an impression of one of her friends, daydreaming in the classroom. Everyone is laughing apart from the friend she is mimicking.
5. James is desperate to be in Pete’s circle of friends. To give them a laugh, Pete and his friends ask James to do things that make him look really silly in front of them everyday, so that he is allowed to hang around with them. James does what they ask. He doesn’t mind.
6. Mr. Jenkins, a teacher, calls one of the pupils in his class ‘jellyfish’ whenever he refers to him, or asks him a question. It makes everyone in the class laugh, apart from the pupil who gets called ‘jellyfish’.
7.Gemma ‘s Mum drops her off at school in the car, and gives her a hug and a kiss goodbye. Her friends see and laugh at her about it. Gemma says, ‘well that’s Mums for you’.
8. Alex goes to play football with his mates after school. As he approaches, George sticks his foot out in front of Alex and trips him over. He topples sideways and falls into a puddle, rather than on the grass. Alex does not look pleased.
9. Charlotte doctors a photo’ of her friend, Jenny, on her computer, and posts it on Facebook for everyone to see. Jenny doesn’t know why everyone is laughing at her at school the next day.
10. Jake puts a drawing pin on Sam’s chair. When he sits down he gets up again, sharpish. Everyone laughs. When he sees the drawing pin, he laughs, too.
Make sure that pupils understand that whether something is harmful or not depends on (a) the intentions of the perpetrator, and (b) on the reactions of the target. If the target doesn’t react in the way that the perpetrator expected they might, they need to make atetmpts to put things right.