This material comes from the manual: Managing Conflict with Confidence, Clare Heaton & Maureen Lynch (Australia: Pearson Education Australia, 2003).
It is targeted at upper primary and lower secondary students (ages 10-15 approx).
It is based on Conflict Resolution Network's 12 skills of Conflict Resolution.
For questions on this material, contact the authors on: [61(0)2] 6662 3426 or [61(0)2] 6662 2330.
We are most grateful to them for their permission to use this extract here.
What is bullying behaviour?
Bullying is repeated incidents involving:
- a bigger, stronger or more powerful child on a smaller or weaker child, or
- a group of children on a single child.
These might be:
- Verbal: the child is called names, put down, threatened.
- Physical: the child is hit, tripped, poked or kicked, or belongings are stolen or damaged.
- Social: the child is left out or ignored, or rumours are spread.
- Psychological: the child is stalked or given dirty looks.
Bullying is different from ordinary teasing, rough-and-tumble or schoolyard fights. What makes it different is that the incidents are ongoing, and there is usually an imbalance of size, strength and power between the children involved.
The bully might have power not only because he or she is bigger and stronger, but also because other children side with the bully often to protect themselves.
- Boys are more often bullied by a single individual; girls more often by groups. There is not much difference between the number of boys and girls who suffer from bullying.
- The size of the school, or whether the school is single-sex or co-educational or government or non-government, makes no significant difference to the amount of bullying that goes on.
- Children are most often bullied when they are in their first few years of primary school and again in their first few years of secondary school.
Source: Pamphlet on Bullying: Information for Parents, Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs, March 2002. www.detya.gov.au/schools/publicat.htm
Bullying among children at school is a serious matter.
In Australia, nearly one child in five between the ages of 8 and 17 is bullied weekly, according to the best research on the subject.
Source: K. Rigby, Bullying in Schools and What to do about It, Australian Council for Educational Research, 19 Prospect Hill Road, Camberwell, Vic. 3124, 1996.
Bullying in cyberspace has emerged as a real and dangerous threat in today’s society.
When the definition of bullying is acknowledged, it becomes clear that bullying in all its forms is unacceptable.
This session is interactive with students working alone on worksheets or in groups—defining, discussing, recording ideas, reflecting, researching, role-playing and practising strategies with a partner to deal with bullies. Students will be empowered to deal realistically with bullying behaviour, and both the bully and the bullied will be understood and supported.
At the completion of this session students will:
- have a broad understanding of bullying behaviour strategies to prepare them to respond in ways that serve their best interests and empower then, and not antagonise the bully;
- be equipped with life skills to get along better with others;
- be aware of all aspects of bullying behaviour and understand the definition of bullying from their discussion with their peers and data from current research;
- reflect on their reactions and responses and the reactions and responses of others, at which time they may see their own tendency to bully and take responsibility for that as well as recognise those behaviours in others, be less bothered by other people’s actions and know when and if they are adding to a volatile situation;
- recognise, select and use the strategies that most meet their needs to deal with rejection and or bullying, so they feel empowered and the bully is disempowered, as a result of experiencing practical activities to gain self-acceptance;
- be empowered to deal with aggressive behaviour with confidence and discernment;
- feel more capable to communicate their needs to others to get what they want if they are doing the bullying;
- perhaps be prepared to talk more openly about bullying and to report incidents.
The activities in the session offer support to both the bully and the bullied. It is the behaviour and not the person that is unacceptable.
This session offers a comprehensive variety of strategies, so students will know that no one size fits all. Such a range of strategies have been included to offer lots of choices to suit lots of people in lots of different situations. All strategies cannot possibly be all things to all people. It is suggested that students reflect on the strategy to decide if it could be helpful to them.
Some strategies are presented as ‘be prepared’. Students are encouraged to relax, imagine and practise so as to prepare themselves. Some strategies may not be relevant right here and now but may prove very helpful in later life.
There is no one prescriptive way of dealing with a bully. It depends on the person being bullied, the bully and the situation.
At the end of the session students will:
(Note: not all of these outcomes will be achieved with this abbreviated lesson.)
- be able to define bullying behaviour (male and female) and understand what constitutes bullying behaviour, by reflecting on a definition based on current research;
- understand and be able to define the difference between stirring, teasing and bullying;
- understand what is and what is not bullying behaviour, by reflecting on, and discussing, various scenarios;
- be aware of the importance of body language in communication and know the difference between portraying themselves as someone who may be easy to bully and someone who may not be easy to bully;
- know how to stand up for themselves and show assertive body language so that they maximise their height and appear confident;
- be aware of the different looks people give each other (eye contact) and the effect this may have on the bully;
- be aware of the feelings of power when they are the taller person standing over a shorter person and also be aware of the feelings when they are stood over by a taller person;
- be aware of the effects of positive and negative thoughts on their belief in themselves and on their energy and strength;
- know what to say and what to do in case they are bullied;
- be able to use their voices effectively, by focusing on the way words and body language are used in communicating;
- understand a technique called ‘Talking like a scratched CD’, so that they can practise saying ‘no’ to something a bully is trying to make them do;
- understand a technique called ‘fogging’, which is a way of speaking to a bully who is making hurtful and cutting remarks;
- understand the technique of ignoring to be better able to cope with a bully;
- be able to imagine being protected by ‘an invisible shield’ to ward off the taunts of a bully;
- be able to imagine escaping temporarily or taking a break from the bad feelings brought on by being bullied;
- be able to use visualisation to remove names and labels that bullies may put on them and other people and replace them with positive labels;
- be aware that there are twenty-two ways to deal with a bully but know that there is no one way to deal with a bully;
- know what would be appropriate behaviour for them if they had to deal with a bully in a particular situation;
- be able to define respect and recognise people who have respect and understand how they get it;
- understand their school policy on bullying; what is, and what is not, tolerated;
- be able to identify and build on their strengths rather than attempt to weaken others;
- be aware of how other people have dealt with bullies and the strategies that did or did not work for them, and be able to apply these strategies in their lives if they deem it appropriate;
- understand the term ‘bouncebackability’ and be aware of how they can pick themselves up and the people who can help them if they are knocked down by life’s circumstances;
- be aware of their self-worth and understand that their intrinsic worth is not altered by being laughed at and/or called names;
- be aware that a bully may have suckerfish friends and that people do things in gangs that maybe they would not do on their own;
- be aware of strategies to use in their imagination that will take the power away from the bully so that the bully appears as the silly bully;
- understand the value of asking another person to walk with them for support and protection and/or imagining someone whom they admire walking with them;
- be aware of bullying in the arts—music, literature, film, paintings, and so on;
- understand how people who are bullied feel, what they say and how they look;
- understand the percentages of verbal and non-verbal communication by making and icing a cake in those proportions;
- be able to evaluate their understanding of bullying behaviour;
CORE ACTIVITY: twenty-two ways to deal with bullies
Objective To have students think about and discuss twenty-two ways to deal with bullies. (It is necessary to have completed previous core activities before doing this activity.)
Duration Ten minutes.
Materials Twenty-two ways to deal with bullies. Download Bullying Activity sheet by clicking here. Print out one per student or make an overhead transparency.
Procedure Students read the student guide out loud, in turn.
Use the following subheadings to elaborate or explain the strategies:
1. Get help.
- Ask for help.
- Call a help line.
2. Tell someone.
- Tell on them.
- Keep telling on them; it’s not dobbing.
- Tell your teacher or parents.
- Talk to someone.
- Call Kids Help Line.
- Tell the principal.
- Tell a parent.
- Run to a teacher.
3. Ignore them.
- Don’t react.
- Keep doing something else.
- Look away.
- Fold your arms and say nothing.
- Never let them know you’re upset.
- Try not to show you’re upset.
- Pretend you don’t care.
- Pretend you can’t see them or hear them.
4. Tell them they are bullying.
- Ask them why they bully—they will never have any friends.
- Tell them they are wrong.
5. Avoid them.
- Stay away from them.
- Avoid where they are.
- Don’t talk to them.
- Don’t go near them.
- Don’t play with them.
- Walk or run away.
6. Make other friends.
- Team up with others to say ‘no’.
- Walk with a friend.
7. Tell them how you feel.
- Say something to them that lets them know how you feel.
- Talk to them alone.
8. Use assertive body language.
- Look as if you are not easily bullied.
- Hold your head up high.
- Look tough.
9. Control yourself.
- Don’t get mad.
- Do something to calm down.
- Control your temper.
- Use self-control.
10. Befriend them.
- Try to sort it out.
- Sit down and talk and reason with them.
- Talk to them and settle them down.
- Ask them what’s the problem.
- Talk it out.
- Say nice stuff to them.
- Help them.
- Be nice to them.
- Play with them.
- Ask them if they would like to play.
- Try to figure them out.
- Turn them into your friend.
- Try to see it from their point of view.
- Treat the bully as you would like to be treated.
11. Be prepared with something to say.
- Say something they’re not expecting.
- Be prepared with a reply.
12. Believe in yourself, no matter what they say or do.
- Affirm yourself.
- Don’t take unwanted comments.
- Stand up for what you believe in.
- Be proud of what they say.
- Be your own best friend.
- Say, ‘Well please don’t call me those things because I’m not like that on the inside.’
13. Laugh it off.
- Make a silly face.
- Make a joke.
- Try to make the bully laugh.
14. Change your situation.
- Change class.
- Change schools.
15. Change how you think about it.
- Don’t take it so seriously.
- Say, ‘Who cares what you think.’
16. Confront them.
- Stand up to them and don’t let them push you around.
- Say, ‘Can you go away, please.’
- Say, ‘Lay off.’
- Tell them to stop it.
- Say, ‘Stop it.’
- Say you don’t like it.
- Say, ‘Please don’t do those things.’
- Stand up to the bully straightaway in an assertive way.
- Ask them to go away.
17. Distract yourself.
- Stop thinking about it.
- Think of something else.
- Watch TV.
- Take a break, escape.
18. Don’t do things you don’t want to.
Talk like a broken CD (repeating what you will or won't do with the same words each time you reply).
19. Use your invisible shield.
- Don’t let the hurtful words through.
20. Act like a fog.
- Say, ‘That’s what you think.’
- Say, ‘That’s nice.’
- Agree with any truth.
21. Distract them.
- Talk about another subject with one word they used in their teasing.
- Change the subject.
22. Don’t purposely annoy them.
- Don’t egg them on.
- Don’t give them a reason to bash you.
After each strategy is read, discuss the following with students:
- whether they agree or disagree that this would be a useful strategy to use with a bully;
- if one way would suit every bullying situation;
- if there are any other strategies they would like to add.
With the students, group strategies together that are similar. Write each strategy on a large card.
- Would you need to use different strategies with different people and for different situations?
- When is it not a good time to deal with bullies?
Points to consider
- Don’t try to deal with bullies if they are drunk, on drugs, or in a fighting mood.
- Don’t try to deal with bullies if they are showing off in front of their friends.
In this or another session you might reinforce the skills by putting up the cards from the last session and considering which strategies students might consider using in the following situations:
- A bully says, `Give me your lunch money or don't try going home.
- A bully is calling you names.
- A crowd of tough-looking people are coming towards you.
- A bully is constantly pushing, shoving and hurting you.
- A bully is spreading rumours about you.
- A bully gets you alone and threatens you.
- A bully throws your things out of the school grounds.
- A bully won't let you in the toilet, or looks over the door.
Copied with permission from Managing Conflict with Confidence, Clare Heaton & Maureen Lynch (Australia: Pearson Education Australia, 2003). Book format. You can purchase this manual at: Pearson Australia or Relationships Australia Bookshop