How seriously should bullying be taken?
The following exercise will enable you to compare the perceptions of students with those of adults of the relative gravity of different forms of bullying, as described in Steps 1 and 2 of Module 4.
Your assignment is the following:
First: Look over the attached list, describing ways in which students might be bullied. Bullying Continuum
Second: Rate the cards by placing them in order according to the seriousness of each act of bullying.
Third: Print the cards on 8.5 x 11 pieces of cardboard and distribute them to the students (members of your committee, or students in your class). Ask students to place the cards in order according to the seriousness of each act of bullying.
- Let students use their own words; try to resist the temptation to correct their grammar, their syntax, their style and their spelling errors.
- Ask them why, in their opinion, it is important to have a definition of bullying, and discuss their answers in class.
- Give students the opportunity to debate the overall question. It is likely that the subject of bullying will generate a great deal of discussion.
- Launch the discussion in an open-ended way, without preconceived ideas (for example, avoid proposing your own or another definition as a starting point).
- Try letting students work in small groups for this exercise. At the same time, it is important to remain sensitive to students who have been targeted by bullying and who may be left out or feel vulnerable in such a context. You can try as much as possible to establish trust and an open atmosphere with these students, without drawing attention to them.
- Try doing this exercise individually as well. Ask each student to create their own definition. It is best not to draw more attention to some definitions over others, for example, by making comments such as “good answer”. Instead you can display them together so that students can read them all.
Four: Assess the differences between your own and the students’ perceptions of the repercussions of the various acts of bullying.