Fun Activity to Begin a Discussion on Bullying

We would like to think our churches and ministry environments are bully free, but sadly that isn’t always the case. Children, teens, ministry volunteers and even parents need to understand (and have regularly reinforced) that bullying is not a behavior that is acceptable to God. In fact, God calls His people to be kind and loving to everyone – even our enemies. This means that even “teasing” that hurts others is probably best left unsaid.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture that for all of its purported anti-bullying stance, not only allows, but even encourages bullying. In recent discussions on bullying with various age groups, I realized that many aren’t even aware of what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior when dealing with others.

How we treat others should be an ongoing conversation in our Bible classes for children, teens and adults. There is a fun activity you can do to both highlight bullying behaviors and make those working with young people aware of the importance of paying closer attention to interactions between young people. When adults pay closer attention to the interactions between children and teens, they can often stop negative behaviors before they reach the bullying threshold.

To make the activity more realistic, provide items like bubbles, jacks and a few other things for participants to interact with as they participate in the exercise. Explain that they are students their age or slightly younger who have a recess/free time. The activity is similar to a murder mystery. Each participant is given a slip of paper that indicates whether they are a bully or a victim of bullies. The slip also explains the behaviors they have that make them either a bully or a potential target of a bully. What the students don’t know is that a few will be both a bully and bullied (Only 1% of bullies are not themselves bullied) and a few will be neither bullied nor a bully.

Give them about five minutes to interact with each other. They should try to be as subtle as they can about their behaviors so no one catches on to which they are. They will need to interact with everyone in that five minutes, because at the end they will need to identify each person’s role.

Below you will find the handout you can give to teachers to use for the activity or for the slips to give each student. Have fun with it, but allow time for each bully and victim to share what their slip of paper said, as well as how to stop bullying that is observed or if one is being bullied.

Bullying Mystery

Participants are told they are in a school classroom where the teacher is obviously distracted with something during free time/recess. (You can provide games, learning board games and books if you want to make it realistic.) They will each be given a slip of paper that tells them whether they are someone being bullied or someone who is bullying others and the behaviors they regularly exhibit. They must be as subtle as possible in their bullying (if they are a bully) so the teacher won’t catch them and so that no one else will tattle on them. The “students” should act as they might if they had free time to set up the opportunity for normal interactions regarding things like who’s turn it is, sharing an object, getting too close to someone, accidentally bumping into someone, etc. They should react as typical students to any interaction. After 5 minutes participants must figure out who the bullies were and suggest effective strategies for managing the bullying behaviors as a teacher and as a student.

Bully – Anytime anyone does something that upsets you, you threaten them with threats like “I won’t be your friend anymore…”

Bullied – You are extremely shy and quiet. You never look anyone in the eyes and speak so softly no one can hear you most of the time. You try not to be noticed or initiate or participate in conversations (although you may stand on the fringes and listen). You just stand there looking at the floor when someone is mean to you and you often start to cry.

Bully and bullied. When other kids interact with you, you are as obnoxious as possible in an annoying way. For instance if they ask you to join them or do something you always say “No” in an annoyed voice. You also make faces at others whenever you can.

Bully. Anytime someone doesn’t give you what you want or does anything that bothers you in the least, you say “I hate you!” or “You’re not my friend anymore.” Your demeanor and reputation are so tough and threatening other kids are afraid to interact with you much at all.

Bullied. You are on the autism spectrum and tend to flap your hands rapidly and repeatedly whenever you are excited or agitated.

Bullied. You are neglected at home and haven’t had your clothes washed in weeks. You haven’t bathed in several days and smell pretty unpleasant. (You don’t have to tell people you smell bad… just make your hair and clothes look as messy as possible!)

Bully. You like to pull people’s hair, poke them in the ribs, punch them pretending it’s a game, or grab them tightly when they have something you want, etc. You have a gift for making it look like these aggressive touches are “accidents”. (Please don’t hurt anyone for real!)

Bully and bullied. You are not only extremely selfish you are loud and proud about it. You make sure everyone knows an item is yours and they can’t have it – even if it is meant to be shared by the whole class. When anyone pushes back you call them names.

Bully. You like to go around whispering about other students. What you say may or may not be true, but it’s always negative.

Bully. You like to whisper about others, but you think what you are saying is nice and so it’s not a problem. You say things like, “Mary wants to marry Johnny”.

Bullied. You have had a recent growth spurt that has made you clumsy. You are always tripping or accidentally bumping into others – which they think is intentional, so they often react badly – especially if they are bullies. You used to try to explain and apologize but since most people didn’t believe you, you’ve given up and just mumble and slink away after an incident (Please don’t hurt anyone!)

Bullied. Your parents are in the middle of an ugly divorce. To try and make you feel better, they are giving you a lot of stuff. You don’t want anyone to talk about your parents’ fights in public and divorce so you talk about all of your presents as much as possible hoping to get the other kids to focus on that instead. The other kids find it annoying because you sound like you are bragging about how you are richer than they are.

Bullied and bully. Your house and neighborhood are so loud you can’t sleep at night. You are always falling asleep at school and you snore when you fall asleep. When someone wakes you or teases you about the snoring, you call them names or threaten them.

Bullied. You are new at school and keep trying to make friends. You think that bragging about your old school and friends will make the other kids want you to be their friends, but they are actually getting upset with your constant talk about how everything was better in your other school.

Bully (but bullied if the other kids figure out you can’t read). You can’t read as well as the other kids in your class and you don’t want anyone to find out. You go around making fun of kids who like to read or even have a book in their hands.

Bullied. You are gifted and in the TAG program at your school. Everything the teacher teaches is super easy for you. You don’t realize others may be upset when you say something is easy when it isn’t for them or call out an answer to a question while they are still trying to figure out what the question even means. (You can go around talking about how easy the new math concept is for you and that you don’t understand why everyone always says it’s so hard. Or talk about how happy your parents were that you got the highest grade on the last test and broke the curve for the class.)

Bully. You have targeted one student to exclude from your group. You make it clear that person is not popular enough to be anywhere near you or your friends.

Bully. You posted a very unflattering photo of one of your classmates with a snarky caption on social media when your teacher wasn’t looking. You want everyone else in the class to take a look without the person or the teacher catching you.

Neither – You are not being bullied, nor do you bully anyone. How you handle any potential bullying you encounter is up to you 

Neither – You are not being bullied, nor do you bully anyone. How you handle any potential bullying you encounter is up to you.

Neither – You are not being bullied, nor do you bully anyone. How you handle any potential bullying you encounter is up to you.

Neither – You are not being bullied, nor do you bully anyone. How you handle any potential bullying you encounter is up to you.

Categories Culture, Elementary, Faith Based Academic Program, Teens
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