In Defence of Youth: Quick Activity

I have been working with young people in various paid and voluntary roles for about eight years now, and there are countless issues I’ve been faced with and resources I’ve used. I also know there are countless issues I’m yet to face and resources I don’t even know exist! I always intended to share some of the things I have found useful and inspiring in my work here on Thrive in Chaos, so here is my first youth work related share!

Something that affects too many children and young people (and adults in fact) is bullying. Things are said and done in the dog-eat-dog world of the playground that individuals then carry and live with far longer than anyone might think. Sometimes the term ‘bullying’ can seem to be applied where, as adults, we might think it too harsh. But it’s so important to remember that what might seem like “just a bit of name calling” can be much more to the person on the receiving end. Words hurt. Even if only said once.

So here is a fantastic, and quick, activity for getting children and young people to reflect on bullying behaviour. First shared with me by a colleague it has had a lot of attention already, you may have already seen it. But it is so simple and effective I think it’s worth sharing again and again. Below is an abbreviated version of the original lesson shared on a American talk show, accompanied by a link to the blog on which I found it.

“The teacher gave each student a clean crisp sheet of paper. She then instructed the class to crumble up the piece of paper, toss it around, get angry with it, and stomp on it.
 
After which, she told the students to return to their seats (with their piece of paper), flatten it out on the top of their desks, making it as flat and perfect as they can, and finally, apologize to the paper.
 
When all the students had done their best to iron out the paper and apologize to it, the teacher picked up the paper on the first classmates desk, held it up so the entire class could see it and said:
 
If this piece of paper had been another person, and you had done all those things to him or her, by making them feel less than perfect (through your words or actions), these are the scars you would leave. That person would never be the same, no matter how many times you tell them you are sorry, no matter how many times you try to smooth things out…”

 

Found here, this activity is worth doing yourself as well, to reflect on the impact of our words and actions. After all there are, unfortunately, some people who don’t seem to grow out of bullying. Have a go and let’s make a conscious effort to speak words of good, love and comfort to everyone we meet.

Please feel free to share any other links/resources to combat bullying in the comments.

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