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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bullying Awareness Project



October is National Bullying Prevention Month!

In high school, my Government teacher gave us paper gingerbread men to color. When we were done, she told us to rip off an arm, a leg, and then the head. She said the torn limbs were a result of our hurtful words. Then she instructed us to tape the ripped pieces back together while saying nice things to our little gingerbread friends. She pointed out that even though we "fixed" our gingerbread friends, the rips were still visible because hurtful words leave scars. 
I still have my gingerbread lady from high school.

Teach your kids this valuable lesson, and set an example by not saying hurtful things to people you know.

Need:
Paper
Crayons/Colored pencils
Scissors
Tape

Instructions:

1. Trace gingerbread men onto paper and cut them out.                  

2. Give the gingerbread men to the kids to color. They can give it a face and clothes. Whatever they want.

3. When they are done, instruct them to tell their gingerbread friend “You’re stupid.” And have them rip off one of the gingerbread man’s arms.
TIP: I did this with my nephews. The youngest was all too happy to rip off parts of the gingerbread man and laughed as he told the gingerbread he was stupid, but the oldest was resistant. He didn’t want to ruin what he had just done. If this happens, reassure the child that their friend will be taped up soon. 
4. Have the kids tell their gingerbread friend, “You’re ugly.” And have them rip off one of the legs. Finally have them say, “I hate you!” And let them rip off the head.

5. Now is the time to explain to them how words can be hurtful. “See what the things you said did to your gingerbread man?”
                
6. When they grasp the idea, it’s time for them to say kind things to their gingerbread friend. “You’re smart.” Help them to tape the arm back on. “You’re pretty.” Tape the leg back on. “I love you!” Tape the head back on.

7. But point out to the kids that the rips can still be seen.


Lesson: When you say something mean to a friend, it hurts and leaves a mark. Not even saying kind things afterward can make those scars disappear completely. That’s why it’s not nice to bully anyone. And if you see someone being bullied, tell a teacher or an adult.

My nephews' gingerbread men.

QUESTION: Were you bullied as a child?

I was bullied on the school bus by a girl who would take my things. Even if I changed seats, she'd follow to sit right in front of me. Later I was bullied at school for my clothes, shoes, eyebrows, ears, how skinny I was, and even the color of my nail polish. At home I was bullied by my siblings for being the youngest as well as for writing stories.


52 comments:

  1. That is a neat way to teach indeed. First I've heard of it. A few bullies tried to bother me, but I pushed back, they left me be after that.

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    1. I'm glad they left you alone. No one bullies the cat! ;)

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  2. Creative lesson for children (I think it would be better for younger children for by high school a lot of damage has been done). I was bullied some.

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    1. That's very true! It still stuck with me, though.

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  3. This is a great idea for a school project. I was bullied some because I'm not athletic at all and gym class was a nightmare for me. It's true that the scars never totally go away.

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    1. Gym class was a horror! Ugh. I definitely do miss it.

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  4. You'd have to catch the kids just right for that to woork - I rather suspect some bullies would be delighted their hurtful words would have a lasting impact.

    There were bullies at school, but fortunately for me I didn't have a high opinion of them even before they called me names, so I didn't much care what they thought and they soon gave up. I had good friends though and was fairly self confident - I can see that for others the taunting was far harder to deal with. Sometimes I stepped in to try to stop bullying, or console the victim - wish I'd done more of that.

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    1. Doing it around seven years old is probably a good age. Just when they start to bully and realize that words can hurt.

      You're lucky that you were so strong. Not many of us are. And even when we try to ignore them, their cruelty still got through. At least you stepped in to help when you could. I wish I had done the same.

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  5. Very good lesson to teach kids, I can see how effective it would be. I think all of us at one point have been bullied.

    Betty

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    1. I don't doubt that we all have. Even bullies get bullied. It's most likely the reason why they become such big bullies to others.

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  6. Interesting lesson. Sounds like it made an impression on you.

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  7. Love it. I think everyone gets bullied at some point. I had the perfect name for it...and people took advantage. Life was miserable until I moved to a new school and decided to embrace my crazy. Despite strange looks at first, my terrible nickname became a cool greeting before I was done. Not all kids have that kind of gumption. It's important that they understand how much damage they can do.

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    1. My nickname growing up was Chrissy....you can probably guess all the mean names bullies got out of that. Prissy and sissy were the ones I hated the most.

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  8. I was bullied in junior high because some people thought I was a lesbian, all because some boy asked me what I thought of "fags," and when he explained what that word meant, I said gay people are just like other people. Other people bullied me because I was serious, studious, and not really conforming to popular culture and things like they did. I truly hope some of these bullies aren't teaching their young children to follow in their footsteps.

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    1. I'm glad you said that, even though it led to you being bullied. I've realized that people bully others who are different but also they bully those who have qualities they don't have but sometimes secretly want.

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  9. Good illustrations.
    Yes I was always bullied in school. My moved around a lot so I was actually in six different grade schools. So I was never able to develop friendships. This meant I was always picked on. One year I drew a spaceship on one of my folders so everyone started calling me 'Martian'. Several of the kids would make up stories about me and tell the teacher I was picking on them, or throwing things at them. I never did. They found it funny to get me in trouble and I was horrified to find the teacher always siding with them. I remember one day one of my classmates said, "Guess what Martian did?" The teacher responded, "What did Martian do now?" I was horrified and was placed in the corner for "what I did". I went home crying that day and died just a little to which I feel I've never truly recovered from. It's part of the reason I still have a low self esteem to this day.

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    1. Being in six different grade schools would've been horrible. I couldn't imagine having to make new friends each time. At some point, I would've wanted to give up and resign to being friendless.

      That's sad that you were teased for simply drawing a spaceship on a folder. And for the teacher to indulge in that and call you Martian with your classmates is just wrong.

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    2. It's also probably why for years I never told anyone I was into Sci.Fi books, TV, films, anything. I learned to be very self-conscious and hide just about anything about myself. To this day I'll be the one hiding in a corner at a party. I'm sure that (school) year of hell contributed greatly to it.

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    3. That's sad. I remember when my sisters would tease me about writing. I felt so stupid and self-conscious for writing that I tried to hide it. And then when other kids would ask me what I wrote, I wouldn't tell them because I was afraid they'd make fun of me.

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  10. I have been bullied in the work place! It isn't pleasant at any point in life but learning how to deal with it is crucial. I really like the gingerbread man to teach children the consequences of bullying. I would also like to see strategies put into place on how to cope if one is bullied. I find it so sad that bullying is still rife in the world. A thought provoking post, Chrys. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Bullying never gets easy, and we can experience it anywhere. School, work, home.

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  11. What a fantastic exercise! It should be taught much earlier than high school, since bullying begins at a much younger age.
    Grownups called me diminutive while kids called me puny. Grandma always told me to be dynamite when someone throws a spark :-) It worked at least half the time!

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    1. This should be taught earlier, which is why I shared it and am telling parents to do this with their kids. :)

      "be dynamite when someone throws a spark" I LOVE THAT!!!!!

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  12. That is wonderful, Chrys. You were lucky to have such a great teacher.
    sherry @ fundinmental

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  13. What a great way to explain how bullying hurts to children.
    I never was bullied and don't recall my friends being bullied either, though they might not have mentioned it. This was years ago. I wonder if it's gotten worse.

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    1. It has gotten worse. So much worse. Now it's not just at school. Bullying follows kids home through social media where it can get especially nasty.

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  14. As a teacher, I think I taught my own children to always be nice to others. I'm proud that they were the ones to pick unpopular kids or nonathletic kids to be on their teams or in their project groups. They were always chosen to show around the new kids and were selected peer helpers for younger students who needed friends.

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    1. I bet you were an amazing teacher! :)

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  15. That is an awesome exercise! What a great idea.

    I was bullied really briefly, but I immediately appealed to a tougher girl who scared the bullies off. My career in public relations was assured! :)

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    1. You were smart! I was best friends with a popular girl...a cheerleader...and I was still bullied.

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  16. This is a good way to teach but some bullies love tearing off the limbs and not learning. I guess I am jaded a bit. I was severely bullied throughout my school years until I went to University. I was shy, I loved art, classical music and old film stars so that put a bull's eye on my chest. In grade school I had a nickname I still can't say because I would be told that was all I was worth. I was beaten and once I had to face down 6 girls who came to beat me up. I faced them down and told them they were cowards and they left me alone. In high school it got worse. I was told I was ugly and spat on by boys in one hall. Every year I ended up at the emergency because someone would try to break my fingers or hand (the right one). Little did I know they couldn't since I have Ehlers-Danlos(I am hypermobile) but my hands and fingers were often severely sprained. I once was picked up by my throat by a couple of girls and told they would slice my throat from ear to ear if they ever caught me alone. I could hardly breathe and my feet were not touching the floor. I was told to commit suicide because every one would be better off if I were not around especially my parents. I wish I could say that was the first time I heard that my throat would be slit but my first time was when I was 7 (that's another story). Needless to say, I was often sick and stayed home and went within. I give my parents the reason i am still here and my brother. I visited him in University and was treated so well my eyes opened up to the wonders of what the future would hold. I consider myself a strong person and vowed never to treat anyone like that ever. I can't help but hope some of these girls are fat and alone. Sorry but I don't think kids like that grow out of being bullies. Some do but most become bullies in the work force. If one shows no fear, tell them to hit the road and ignore them, they become very, very small.

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    1. I'm so sorry that you went through all of that. My heart broke while reading the things you endured. I'm glad you had your parents and your brother. <3

      You're right that some bullies enjoy inflicting pain. That's the sad state of our world. I do believe that most childhood bullies end up growing out of it and learning from their mistakes. Not all do, though. There are certainly many adult bullies out there, and bullies in every place we can find ourselves during our lives.

      If parents teach this lesson to children when they are young enough, maybe six years old, set an example for their children, actively teach them right from wrong, and keep the dialogue open about bullying (especially at the start of each school year or when something pops up in the news about a child being bullied) then I believe children will learn. It's important for parents to know that doing something like this once won't stick. They have to continue to do it and be a role model too. They have to also pay attention for those moments where their child takes on the role of being a bully.

      I think we all hope that our bullies ended up fat, alone, unsuccessful, etc....karma. That's normal because of all the pain they put us through, but I have seen my biggest bully from elementary school grow out of it and become a loving mother. I'm not friends with her. of course, but I know some who are. So it is possible.

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    2. You are right that some do grow out of it and some even apologize. I find the parents need to take that active part but often the parents don't either because they are so busy, see their kid through rose-coloured glasses or are bullies themselves. I like Karma but I also like growth. It is good to learn from the past whether one was a bully or a victim so one does not continue to walk down that same path since neither is healthy

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    3. You're right. Parents have to step up, take action, and pay attention.

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  17. Hi Chrys .. it's so important to remind us all about bullying - as once it's settled in it's a habit - and that leads on to worse things. Dealing with bullying is so difficult. I had some - but thankfully it was too awful. Cheers Hilary

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    1. Exactly. That's why it's important for parents, aunts/uncles, grandparents to keep a close eye on the children in our lives for signs of being a bully and being bullied, so we can do something about it before it's too late.

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  18. I love this project and am going to try it out with the group of six year olds I lead. As for me, I wasn't bullied too bad in high school but I don't think anyone gets through unscathed. I chose to home school my own children.

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    1. I hope it makes an impact n your six year olds!

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  19. That really is a great project. I think I'll do it with my mushy as she gets a little older.

    Fortunately, I did not get bullied as a child. But, about 5 years ago, my husband and I started dating and I did get bullied. I was ridiculed by the women that had a crush on him saying I was too ugly for him and that I had a big nose. It's funny because even though I was in my 20s, this still really bothered me.

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    1. That would be great!

      WHAT? Women can be so catty. Well, you got the man, so that lady is a rude idiot!

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  20. what a great project! I wasn't really bullied but my brother was terribly, even threatened with a knife, and the school admin did NOTHING ABOUT IT. They even said my brother must have been instigating the bullies. It was such a nightmare for my family.

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    1. Threatened with a knife? That's horrible. And the fact that the school admins did do a damn thing. I don't get it. They need to protect their students. All of them.

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  21. That's a great way to visually show the harm bullying does. I was bullied for being skinny, for being poor in a school of upper middle class kids, and for being weird. Maryland was a different place from Colorado.

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    1. I was bullied for the same things. :(

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  22. I don't remember being bullied, but I had an older brother who was quite protective. I was at a cocktail party last week, speaking with a mom and she said one thing that really scares here is cyber bullying. She has three kids are just old enough to have social media. It's so sad how many are bullied and cyber bullying is scary.

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    1. Cyber bullying is a nightmare. It can get so nasty on the Internet. And the fact that cyber bullying means the victim can't even escape it at home.

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  23. That's a good assignment to do with kids.

    I was bullied as a child and it wasn't until I was in my first year of high school that I decided to put a stop to it. I took up wrestling on the female wrestling team and we had to work out in the weight room every day in order to be on the team. I got stronger and took one semester of ROTC and that class gave me more confidence. So the next time the girl who had been bullying me for 6 long years came at me and pushed me down, I beat the hell out of her. Broke her nose, gave her a black eye and had her down on the ground before I was pulled off her. I had my earrings pulled right out of my ears and had to go to the ER to have my ears sewn back up but she never bullied me again and neither did anyone else. We have to teach our kids to stand up for themselves, that's the only way to stop bully's.

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    1. That is awesome that you took up wrestling and ROTC. I had wanted to join ROTC but then I was diagnosed with scoliosis.

      OUCH! I can't even imagine what it would feel like to have your earrings pulled out of your ears. *cringes*

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  24. Oh wow, I'm sorry to hear you were bullied in school and at home, Chrys. I was teased for being skinny, too. By older boys from another class ~ one of whom I had a tiny crush on, so that wasn't a good, healthy-self-esteem period for me. Fortunately, I was never pushed around or beaten up. The gingerbread activity is great in its effect. We get to see the rips and that is a sobering moment.

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    1. That sucks! Boy are dumb. Especially the ones we have crushes on who bully us. I wasn't beaten up either, but I did get pushed around.

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