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A bully speaks

To identify bullying behaviour and see that it can lead to disastrous results.

by Jude Scrutton

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To identify bullying behaviour and see that it can lead to disastrous results.

Preparation and materials

  • Picture of a child (obvious victim) stooped and nervous; picture of same child standing upright, with confidence.
  • Flip-chart and pens (see section 1).
  • Make a PowerPoint with the following statements (taken from the story), and project them at the appropriate points:
              I was a bully
              She made me look dumb
              Picking on her felt good
              She tried to kill herself
              A better way
              I sent her a letter saying sorry
  • You might like to ask a child to read the story.
  • Possibly replace the word ‘minger’ with a word used in your school.
  • Be aware that the occasionally heard opinion from teachers and heads that ‘bullying doesn’t happen at our school’ is unhelpful and ignores the fact that all children have the capacity to harm others without realizing the damage they are causing.

Assembly

  1. Ask children what bullying means and whether every time we are nasty to someone else we are bullying. Compile a list.

    Ask the teachers around the hall if, when they were children, they were ever bullied or saw someone at their school being bullied.

    Now ask the children what the effects of bullying are on children. Make a list and discuss.
  2. Tell the children that you are going to share a story based on an incident that was widely reported in the press (this was in 2008). The names in the story have been changed.

    (Before you tell the story, emphasize that at this school bullying behaviour is not accepted. Make sure that everyone understands that it is important that children who are targets of bullying know how to report it.)

    Here lies a story about the worst effects of bullying.

    I was a bully

    Hayley started calling a girl at school names, thinking it was a laugh. But things quickly got out of hand. It took a serious turn of events to make her realize that she had become a bully. This is Hayley’s story.

    She made me look dumb

    Sarah was in my class. She hardly spoke in class and when she did it was usually to make some kind of sarcastic comment, or take a dig at one of the rest of us for not being as brainy as she was.

    One day I put my hand up to answer a question and when I got it wrong, I could hear Sarah sniggering. She shouted out the right answer in a really smug way and made me look a total numb-brain!

    I had to say something back, so I shouted, ‘At least I’m not a minger!’

    Everyone started laughing and joined in shouting ‘minger’ at her. Sarah started crying and I got sent out of the class.

    Picking on her felt good

    I know it sounds horrible, but seeing her cry like that made me feel good.

    I don’t know why. It was like finding a new power. After that I started calling Sarah names whenever I saw her. My friends would do the same and we said some really horrible things. She used to try and say stuff back, but it was always really lame and we’d laugh at her even more.

    Sometimes we’d hide Sarah’s belongings at school. We used to think it was hilarious to see her searching around for her things. And when we found out her mobile phone number, we sent her text messages and phoned her up, putting on funny voices and trying to trick her.

    I never really thought about how it was affecting Sarah. We were only having a laugh with her. I suppose I just thought that because Sarah was so clever, she’d just think we were idiots and forget it. But it turned out it was affecting her a lot.

    She tried to kill herself

    At school one morning, me and a few of my friends got called to see the Head. She told us that Sarah was in hospital because she’d drunk some bleach. She said she’d done it because she wanted to get away from the bullying.

    I felt absolutely awful. It was only supposed to be a joke. I had no idea Sarah had taken it all so badly. I started crying right in front of my friends and couldn’t stop. I said I’d do anything to make it OK.

    The school counsellor was really good. We talked a lot about my family and how my big sister treated me like I’d treated Sarah. It made me understand my sister a bit better and helped me see that picking on someone else was not a good way to make myself feel important.

    A better way

    After a while I talked to Mum and Dad about everything and then talked to my sister. It was good to get everything out in the open. Now if something bothers me, I talk to my family about it, and my sister doesn’t pick on me anymore.

    I sent her a letter saying I’m sorry

    I sent Sarah a letter saying how sorry I was. I still haven’t heard back from her. She went to a different school after what happened. I hope she’s happier there.

    I’ve found that saying nice things and making other people feel good about themselves makes me feel much better than making fun of them ever did. I think I’d like to be a school counsellor when I’m older.
  3. Remind the children that this is an extreme case but it is a true story. Explain that Hayley was not a nasty girl but someone who called a girl a name in anger and enjoyed the feeling of power this gave her.

    Discuss how Hayley fell into bullying behaviour out of embarrassment and didn’t realize the pain she was causing. Once she did realize, she became a better person.

    Discuss how this shows that if we tell adults about bullies, adults can help the bullies to become better people.
  4. Discuss your school policy for dealing with bullying. How do the children set about reporting bullying? Who can they speak to?

Time for reflection

For the next minute, think about all the children who are the targets of bullying.

 

Prayer

Dear God,

we know your ways are better than ours

and your reasons are far better too.

The trails are tough and we ask for your help

for it’s impossible to survive without you.

Please help all those who are feeling pain in their hearts,

those who no longer see the light and have fallen into the darkness,

those who are suffering and have lost their faith.

Give us the courage to get up and fight

and when days come when we are weak, help us to get through it.

Please help us to become stronger and no longer be afraid.

Please stay by our side and guide us.

Amen.

                                                                                 (Author unknown)

Song/music

‘I will bring to you the best gift’ (Come and Praise, 59)
‘Get up, stand up’ by Bob Marley (widely available to download)

Publication date: January 2012   (Vol.14 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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