Class topics

Why is bullying bad?

Students can discuss the harm caused by bullying, focusing upon the physical, psychological, academic, social and self-esteem damage.

See all of Chapter 4.

Why do some kids bully?

There are many reasons why children bully. Some are copying role models learnt at home or school, others are feeling hurt, rejected or insecure. Some are propelled by a primitive survival instinct that leads them to join the mob and attack the vulnerable person.

See all of Chapter 3, especially 'The core issues' (pp.44-45).

How can you help kids understand the bullying 'game'?

See Chapter 1, 'The bullying game' (pp.21-26), and all of Chapter 9. Provide role-plays of different types of bullying and then discuss.

How can all kids protect themselves from bullying?

The child who has a bunch of good friends and is generally friendly and caring to others is highly unlikely to be bullied. If a child is bullied, he or she should disguise their anger or fear and respond in a neutral manner - like confronting an animal. Targets of bullying must not show their distress. If the bullying is bad, they must get help from adults. When adults are slow to protect them, including parents, the targets must continue reminding them until the target(s) feel safe.

See Chapter 8, 'Thefeelings formula' (pp.137-46); Chapter 10, 'The three essential steps to good self-esteem (pp.168—79— includes lots of exercises); and all of Chapter 13.

How effective are rehearsed retorts to bullying if they are taught in class and the bullies know what will happen?

Children know the game in tennis, football or debating, but this does not detract from the fun involved or the skills required. Set the ground rules, e.g. let the retort just 'pop out', be generic, be very original, etc. Get kids to coach each other on the best way to use retorts. Rehearsing retorts in class allows the kids to learn the correct, assertive, non-aggressive way to use them. See Chapter 12.

What can kids do if they see bullying happening? How can they best deal with physical, verbal, anti-social or electronic bullying?

Bullies are not stupid. They want to be accepted by their peers. Thus the peer group or the onlookers play a powerful role in condoning or enabling bullying. Teachers should teach students what to say and how to intervene when they witness bullying. They must give students the power to report an incident, anonymously or publicly, without fear of being labelled or risking attack themselves. And, if necessary, teachers should discipline a whole group who allow bullying to continue.

Be prepared: bullying can occur anywhere. Regardless of whether kids mean to hurt or not, we need options for dealing with each type of bullying. Discuss with the students what they would do and work out what is best.

See Chapter 3, 'The role of the school' (pp.38-39); Chapter 7, Point 3, 'Investigate the bullying (pp.112-13), and 'Methodsfor managing bullying incidents' (pp.120-21);andall of Chapter 12, especially 'Responding to bullying (pp.216-22).

Where else does bullying occur?

Sadly, schools are not the only havens for bullying. Bullying can occur at home, at work or elsewhere. Students may like to consider and compare the often inhumane treatment of Indigenous people, older people, homosexuals, women and children in the light of bullying and its abuse of power.

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