In the fraught dynamic of children and bullying, there are a number of roles being adopted in the playground, community or online setting. Directly, there are two parties involved: The oppressor and the oppressed.’ Indirectly, however, there are many others involved. Those who assist or encourage a bully/oppressor. Those who reinforce bullying by giving the situation an audience by perhaps laughing. There are the outsiders who want to remain separate and do not want to take a side. Finally, there are the often rare group who have the confidence and character to defend. My point here is that we often hear parents suggest that their child is perhaps not impacted by bullying, however I believe that education is required for all of our children, so that they can reflect on their own behaviour, and adapt it slightly, as only by group understanding and group behaviour changes will we be able to make the biggest impact.
Bullying is an oppressive force that impacts so significantly upon the lives of many children and young people, be that through the devastating psychological and physical consequences experienced by a victim, as a bystander or the impact on a child or young person by acting as a bully themselves. Bullying can take many forms, and it is less and less about physical bullying which is much harder for the bullies to get away with. More often today it is psychological bullying. Taunting, spreading rumours, isolating individuals, and increasingly what happens in the playground is continued virtually through 24hr always on social media.
At Bright Young Things preparing children for such life challenges, building resilience and confidence is a core pillar of our organisation, and children’s wellbeing one of our most important values. In spring term our theme was friendship, and throughout summer we delved into emotions. These themes naturally uncovered many anxieties and personal stories and we then used many drama games and techniques to understand why bullying happens in the first place, and how we deal with it if it does, both as a victim of bullying and as a bystander.
There are many ways in which we build an understanding of bullying and mental wellbeing among our children at Bright Young Things, and below are 3 that are particularly effective methods.
- Status – in every situation of two or more people, status is at play. Understanding what status means, how people use it and abuse it, how it shifts depending on who is present and how people give and take status is the true foundation for exploring bullying and why it happens throughout your childhood and as adults. By allowing our byts to ‘play the status’ in a drama activity, they will be profoundly better equipped to recognise these dynamics in real life and find an individual’s weaknesses.
- Forum Theatre – a technique created by Augusto Boal as part of Theatre of The Oppressed as a forum for teaching people how to change their world. It was originally used with prisoners and those in oppressive environments. Today it is used in drama workshops all over the world to explore conflict and resolution. At Bright Young Things we have adapted this technique for all of our children, even the littl’uns, with incredible effects.
- Debate – a very powerful and provocative tool to explore and challenge our byts’ own opinions. We have seen even the quietest of our byts find a strong and persuasive voice during our debating sessions when given a platform where their opinions matter. We encourage our byts to pitch, implore and persuade with the power of language and expression. The subject of popularity and bullying is one of the most vocal and impressive debates we have with our byts.
This is Anti-Bullying week, and Lisa, Bright Young Thing’s creative director and founder, is on the road, delivering our Anti-Bullying drama workshops at schools across Northern Ireland. Later in the week Lisa will summarise her week and share some of the great techniques used with both primary school and secondary school children to raise awareness and understanding of bullying, encouraging both victims and bullies to put themselves in each other’s shoes. The Power of Drama is the ability to role-play, to act out situations, to change the script, in a fun, immersive way, in a safe, non-judgemental environment.
Later this week look out for Lisa’s video blog about her week exploring bullying with Northern Ireland’s school children!
For now, I would like to leave you with our simple sentiment for the week. Be Kind. Be Brave. For more information and advice to help end bullying, visit www.endbullying.org.uk/
You can find out more about the Power of Drama to resolve conflict and build understanding here. To find out more about how Bright Young Things can support your school with school workshops to develop confidence, social skills and tackling big topics such as bullying through drama, please get in touch at [email protected]