Anti-Bullying Activities: Take a Proactive Step Toward Preventing Bullying in Your Community
Kids have always had to deal with bullies, but educational advocates have recently begun to identify the serious consequences that bullying has on students of all ages.
Bullying can happen to anyone, and it’s a dangerous phenomenon that has negative effects on everyone involved—the perpetrators, their victims, witnesses and bystanders, and the community at large. And it doesn’t just take place at school these days: cyberbullying and bullying via text are major problems that cause deep trauma to students who are left with no escape from those who torment them.
Further, severe cases of bullying can lead some students to substance abuse, self-harm, and even suicide—risks which are particularly heightened in kids who identify as LGBTQ.
With that in mind, it is critical that administrators, teachers, parents, and students work to proactively prevent bullying from taking place within classrooms. It isn’t enough to simply condemn bullying. Communities must actually prioritize anti-bullying activities in order to prevent bullying from happening in the first place. Then, they must work to teach students about the harmful effects of bullying and provide resources for victims and perpetrators alike.
We’ve developed this guide to anti-bullying activities to aid your school in the fight against bullies. Read on to learn why it’s so essential to prioritize anti-bullying activities in the classroom—and then check out the unique anti-bullying activities we’ve compiled for elementary school students, middle school students, and high school students.
Three Reasons Anti-Bullying Activities are Necessary in the Classroom
1. Teachers Need to Create Safe Spaces
First and foremost, it’s essential for teachers to take a proactive stance against bullying.
By making anti-bullying activities a part of the curriculum, you can reinforce the importance of treating everyone with respect to your students—and in turn, you create a safe space for kids who experience problems with bullying to come forward and ask for help.
2. Bullying Doesn’t Just Happen at School
As we discussed above, bullying doesn’t just happen at school anymore. Instead, the Internet and the rise of social media have made it possible for bullies to harass their victims 24/7.
To make matters worse, the Internet also allows bullies to stay anonymous. Some students may not have bullied others in the past because they were afraid of getting in trouble or facing negative social consequences, but the Internet removes these barriers—and even gives them the chance to team up with other bullies to further taunt their victims.
Cyberbullying is a real and grave danger that can create serious long-term damage for the victims. Working on anti-bullying activities in the classroom can help students internalize the fact that there are other human beings with real feelings on the other side of the screen.
3. Kids Face Immense Pressure
Every generation has its challenges, but social media and other modern technologies also put new pressures on today’s kids that previous generations never had to face.
This ultimately affects both bullies and their victims. Kids who feel like they can’t measure up to everyone’s expectations of them may become more likely to torment others in order to build themselves up (especially when they can do so easily and anonymously online). Unfortunately, the victims (who are also facing increased pressures and expectations from the same sources) often then experience amplified effects from the bullying, which in turn makes them feel even worse.
As you can see, bullying is a very real problem that truly affects everyone involved—which is why it’s so important for teachers, parents, and administrators to preemptively introduce anti-bullying activities in their communities.
Use Anti-Bullying Activities to Promote Acceptance in Your School
Bullying must be taken seriously, but you can take a positive approach to its prevention and bring the community together with a common goal!
Use these anti-bullying activities in your school to help students find more to love about themselves—and to learn how to respect the differences they see in others. Read on to find the best anti-bullying activities for each student age group below.
Activities for Elementary School Students
1. Designate an Anti-Bully Tree
Locate a tree near the entrance of your school and decorate it with anti-bullying messages and quotes. Ask students to add their own messages of love, kindness, and hope throughout the year to create a lasting symbol of acceptance for everyone who enters the building to see.
2. Implement a Positive Note Program
Encourage students to leave positive anonymous notes for their classmates. They can leave notes in someone’s cubby or place them in their desk for them to find the next day. This program provides students with a simple way to spread joy while encouraging them to see the good in others.
Of course, teachers should be sure to develop a system to ensure that everyone receives a similar number of notes (such as taking turns with each student having their own day to receive notes from others, or having all students write one note for each classmate and then distributing them to the students at a random time).
3. Create a Buddy System
In an elementary school, a buddy system works well when it pairs an older student in the fourth or fifth grade with a younger student in the school. The older student serves as a mentor and can provide the younger student with support and guidance. The younger student can ask their buddy for help whenever they need it.
4. Switch Up the Lunch Routine
Students naturally gravitate toward their friends in the cafeteria, but it can be beneficial for students to get to know more of their classmates throughout the year. Every few days, switch up the lunch table assignments so that students have more opportunities to socialize with different classmates.
Activities for Middle School Students
1. Reflect on Bullying
Ask middle school students to write personal reflections on the topic of bullying. Students should consider times when they were unkind to others and write about why they behaved that way at the time.
Next, ask students to write about how their actions may have made the other person feel. At the end of the reflection, each student should write out a plan of action for how they can better handle similar situations in the future.
2. Revamp the Fitness Curriculum
Many students are bullied during health and fitness classes when they need to showcase their physical strength or otherwise exert themselves. To remedy this, create a new fitness curriculum that focuses on having fun and being active while exercising rather than being competitive.
For instance, instead of measuring milestones like who can jump the farthest or run the fastest, focus on healthy habits like participating in the daily activity or doing something to get your heart rate up.
3. Create a Playground Patrol
The playground patrol is a special group that older students can join after they have received proper training and resources. Through this program, the designated older students should monitor the playground for any negative behavior, such as name-calling or physical altercations. They can then work directly with students who are being bullied and also advocate for the need for good behavior on the playground.
4. Promote Acceptance and Self-Esteem
Many bullies pick on others because of their own lack of self-confidence or self-acceptance—and many victims fall prey to bullying because of the very same things. You can prevent bullying by encouraging students to learn more about themselves and to identify what they like most about their own personalities.
Teach students what self-acceptance and self-esteem are, and show them how important it is to like themselves and to accept the parts of their personalities that make them unique and wonderful. Then, ask each student to write five statements about themselves. These statements should be things like: “I love that I work hard in school and get good grades,” or “I love that I practice my violin each day and that I am getting better.”
Ask students to hold onto their self-acceptance sheets and refer to them when they are having a bad day. By building confidence in your classroom, you can naturally minimize the bullying that occurs in your school.
Activities for High School Students
1. Interview a Classmate
One of the best ways to prevent bullying in high school is to help students feel more comfortable with one another. Bullying among older students is often targeted at those who are seen as strange or different—so if you can minimize those differences, you can also reduce bullying.
With this activity, create a list of interview questions and provide them to each student. Pair off the students in your class and ask them to interview one another. Challenge them to find one thing that they both have in common. Then, each student should take turns introducing his or her partner to the class.
This exercise helps everyone establish a personal connection within the classroom—and can help to minimize bullying among high schoolers.
2. Start an Anti-Bullying Book Club
Create a book club that includes a reading list of books with anti-bullying messages. Book club members will learn not only from the books that they read, but they will also be inspired by the discussions that occur during the book club meetings—and they can share the messages they learn with their peers and others in the community.
3. Create an Active Anti-Bullying Campaign
Encourage students to get involved with anti-bullying efforts across multiple platforms. Create an anti-bullying slogan or theme for the year and then have students design posters based on that theme during the early part of the school year. Hang those posters throughout the hallways and in classrooms to serve as a reminder to everyone that the community will not tolerate bullying throughout the year.
Next, get students, parents, and teachers involved by starting an anti-bullying committee. The committee should plan events and fundraisers throughout the year to raise awareness about bullying and to teach students how to prevent bullying from taking place within their classrooms.
4. Offer Daily Words of Inspiration
During the morning announcements, include a daily dose of anti-bullying inspiration. Have students read profound quotes, actionable tips, and statistics about bullying to remind their peers about the damaging effects of bullying and the importance of treating others with kindness and respect.
Bonus Activity for All Ages
This final anti-bullying activity is a special one—it can be adapted and used in elementary school, middle school, or high school classrooms.
In an effort to make bullying a part of the ongoing classroom conversation, ask your students to journal and reflect on topics related to anti-bullying. As students write about fostering acceptance in the classroom and acceptable ways to treat others, they’ll become more prepared to recognize bullying when it first starts to happen—and they’ll be ready to actively work against it.
A journal is a great place for a student to write about issues they experience with others and to sort out their complex feelings about their lives. When students are struggling to process the challenges they face, a journal provides a safe and reliable space to explore confusing thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment, condemnation, or retribution.
Use these 10 anti-bullying activity journal prompts with your students to help them work through their difficult experiences with bullying.
- Sometimes bullies target people for being “different” or “weird.” When is it good to be different and weird? Write about a famous role model who could be described this way.
- Write about a time when you learned something valuable from someone you didn’t know very well before.
- What is the most effective way to stand up against a bully?
- What should you do if you recognize that someone feels uncomfortable in a conversation with another student?
- Why do people become bullies? How can you show a bully that their behavior is wrong?
- Write about a time when you or someone you know stood up to a bully. Describe what happened—and how the bully responded.
- What is your favorite thing about yourself? Write about something special that you bring to our class.
- What do you think our school could do to stop bullying in our community?
- Imagine that you are at home and witness someone cyberbullying another classmate. How would you handle the situation?
- Write about a time when someone made fun of you for something that you were embarrassed about. Describe how that made you feel.
Prevent Bullying with Anti-Bullying Activities
Bullying is a tough subject for everyone involved, from the perpetrators to the victims to the bystanders—and if it is shoved under the rug and not addressed, it can have dire, deadly consequences for those who suffer its effects. That’s why it’s so important for communities to rally around anti-bullying efforts and truly prioritize awareness in school environments.
With these simple yet effective anti-bullying programs, your school can work to address this difficult topic while also providing students with the tools they need to prevent bullying from taking place in your community.
For more information on anti-bullying activities, anti-bullying journal prompts, and bullying awareness, please be sure to check out these resources as well:
- Bullying Statistics: Reduce Bullying Through Journaling
- Bullying Facts and 10 Prompts
- 31 Bullying Awareness Writing Prompts for Students
Take care and be kind to one another.
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And, here’s one final resource for you and your students. Let me introduce you to Ernest the Owl. His Parent and Teacher Guide to the Internet is pretty cool. There’s an interactive version as well as a bonus downloadable workbook. Check it out today!