Turning Bystanders Into Heroes
Try this activity to help kids understand how important their role as a bystander–er, HERO, is in a bullying situation.
Give a child 5 wooden craft sticks.
Ask him to write his name on the first one. Then, tell him to break the stick. The task should be easy.
Emphasize that on our own, we are breakable.
Next, ask each child to write down the names of three people who they know they can count on for friendship and support, on three of the remaining sticks. It can be a parent, family member, friend, or even a pet.
On the remaining craft stick, ask the child to write something that they are good at, such as a sport, art, or even being a good friend to others.
Have the child stack his four sticks, one on top of the other, then challenge him to again try to break the sticks. This time, the task should be impossible.
When I do this activity with kids, usually in schools or troop settings–the expressions on the their faces as they realize the strength of the stacked sticks is priceless every time. I know my point has been made. But I say it anyway:
“When you support one another, and have confidence in your own abilities, you become unbreakable. Keep these craft sticks as a reminder of how strong you truly are!”
My other reminder/mantra to kids, when we talk about bullying and bystanding, is that it is never OK to do nothing about bullying. I have kids repeat the phrase. I encourage them to shout it. Sometimes, we see if the whole building can hear us! I want kids to remember this truism.
This week, in light of the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University, it seems especially important.
For more ideas and activites to help kids cope with bullying, please check out Friendship & Other Weapons: Group Activities to Help Young Girls Cope with Bullying, available November 15, 2011.