I watched a video on TED by Monica Lenwinsky about her personal experience with bullying. What I realized was that, like her, everyday, many children as well as adults go through this traumatizing experience. This act is two way – one is the victim and one is the bully. There are many posts to educate the victim and how to avoid being bullied, but we have failed to educate children that we can become bullies unintentionally. Indian schools need to start spreading awareness and informing children from 1st grade onwards. There are numerous activities to help children understand the types of bullying, how to stop it, and how NOT to become a bully. Here are a few tips which teachers and parents can use for their children.
Bullying can be of any form – physical, social, verbal and cyber.
Kids may not understand the forms of bullying. They may emote imperceptibly. The act may be to prove themselves to be strong, or to get back at someone, but they neglect the consequences. They may post or say something about someone in form of a joke, but it can hurt the person who is mocked.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself. Mark 1 for “Yes” and 0 for “No”
1. Have you told anyone not to be a certain person’s friend?
2. Have you called anyone names?
3. Have you kicked, tripped, punched, broken someone’s things on purpose?
4. Have you laughed at someone’s dressing style on their face or otherwise?
5. Have you teased someone about their body type or looks?
6. Have you intentionally not included someone in a group?
7. Have you threatened someone in any specific way?
8. Have you ever shared, posted, liked, posted nasty comments about someone’s picture, video in an embarrassing moment or moment of failure?
9. Have you ever picked on anyone for your own amusement or to impress your friends?
10. Have you made up stories, shared false information about someone because you dislike that person?
(If your score is 2 or more, you are a bully.)
Quick classroom activity
Take a large piece of plain stiff paper. Ask the children to say hurtful and mean words. As they do, crumple a bit of the paper. The children enjoy watching this. Then tell them that the mean words that they said had hurt the paper and now it’s crumpled into a ball. Ask them to say kind words to ease the paper. Once the paper is eased you can point out that the veins on the paper and the mean words created scars which can not be repaired. A more graphic visualization for greater impact can be by making silhouette of a person, then make the children say hurtful words, and when they do, cut out a piece of their limb. After the words are said then stick them back by saying kinder words and using tape. The scars remain and the message is understood. Discuss how they felt when they said those mean words and how they felt after realizing that the mean words created scars. Make them write for lasting changes.