Online Toolkit

Part 5 - Modules

Do We Have Alternatives?

MAIN THEMESNonviolence, conflict transformation, human rights.
DURATION1.5 - 2 h
AIMSThis is a role-play activity that addresses issues of: Interpersonal violence:
- Bullying.
- The right to live in freedom and safety (security).
- The right to dignity and not to be discriminated against.
- Children have the right to be protected and shielded from harmful acts and practices e.g. from physical and mental abuse.
OBJECTIVESTo develop knowledge and understanding about the causes and consequences of bullying.
To explore ways of confronting the problem.
To create empathy with the victims of bullying.
Introduce the activity. Explain that they are going to work in small groups to make short role-plays on the theme of bullying.
Ensure, with a quick brainstorm, if necessary, that everyone knows what bullying is and that it can happen in any school or college, in clubs and in the workplace.
Divide the participants into three sub-groups and assign one of the scenes to each group. Give them 15 minutes to rehearse and prepare their role-plays.
Once they are ready, ask each group, in turn, to present their scene.
Leave any comments until all groups have presented their scenes and then come together into plenary for discussion.

Start by reviewing the role-plays.
- Where did the groups get the material to develop their scenes? Was it from stories or films about bullying, or was it based on experience?
- Were the scenes realistic?
- In scene 1, which things that people said were constructive and helped the situation and which things hindered the situation?
- In relation to scene 2, how easy is it to talk frankly with a friend who is also a bully. In general, what techniques would tend to have a positive effect and what tactics would tend to have a negative effect?
- In relation to scene 3, how easy is it to talk frankly with a friend who is being bullied? What is the best way to find solutions that are acceptable to the victim?

Now ask three participants to read out the three "real stories". Ask for general comments about the "bullying stories" and then go on to talk about the causes of bullying and how it can be tackled.
- How do you think it feels to be bullied?
- Is the person being bullied responsible for it?
- Are bullies trying to prove something by abusing other people?
- Is bullying a form of violence?
- Is bullying about power?
- Is bullying inevitable?
- If you are friends with someone who is being bullied, should you inform an authority figure, even though your friend told you about their problem in confidence? What are the most common prejudices against people who are being bullied?
- Who is responsible for controlling a problem of bullying?
Minimum 9 participants, maximum 24 participants.
MATERIALSCopies of the scenes to be role-played (one scene per group).
One copy of the sheet of "bullying stories."
METHODOLOGY USEDIndividual and group exercise; role play.
TIPS FOR FACILITATORSIf you have a particularly creative group, suggest they script their own scenes and then perform them for others. Members of the group could also lead or organise a debate in their own schools or communities on the topic of bullying.
Together with other friends, create a group in your own school or community to help young people who are being bullied.

Bullying may be direct or indirect. Direct bullying means behaviour such as name-calling, teasing, pushing or pulling someone about, hitting or attacking, taking bags and other possessions and throwing them around, forcing someone to hand over money or possessions, and attacking or threatening someone because of their religion, colour, disability or habit. Indirect bullying is behaviour such as spreading rumours with the intention that the victim will become socially isolated. Such behaviours are mostly initiated by one or more people against a specific victim or victims. In both direct and indirect bullying, the basic component is physical or psychological intimidation which occurs systematically over time and creates an on-going pattern of harassment and abuse.

If you are working with an outreach group or in a club, college or workplace you may want to adapt the scenes to suit your particular situation. Be aware of the young people in your group and any personal experiences of bullying. Form the groups and share the scenes accordingly.
MORE INFORMATION This activity was adapted from COMPASS. Manual on Human Rights Education with Young People.
For more information please visit


Scene 1
A student turns to people in authority and tries to explain that one of his/her classmates is being bullied. The head teacher is authoritarian and traditional. S/he thinks standards are slipping and has poor opinions about the general behaviour of young people these days. The class teacher does not want to assume responsibility for the situation. Other teachers underestimate the problem and do not recognise the bullies' behaviour for what it is. The representative of the local authority care service is concerned, but has too heavy a workload to be able to intervene now.

Scene 2
A group of students try to talk to a friend who is bullying a younger student.

Scene 3
Various students are gathered together talking about a friend who is being bullied by a group of older students. They would like to help their friend and analyse all the possible solutions to help him/her.

Bullying stories

Story 1
"I am 12 and I hate going to school because nobody likes me. There is a group of kids who call me names every time they can. They say that I am ugly and fat and that my parents should be ashamed of me. My best friend stopped talking to me and now she has even made friends with some of the kids in this group. I hate her. I feel so lonely and I am scared that what they say about my parents is true."

Story 2
"I started classes in a new college this year and from the first day I felt that some of the girls looked at me funny. Then I realized that they were jealous because most of the boys started being very friendly to me. Now I want to go to another college because I am receiving little notes threatening me. I also receive abusive phone calls at home. They have even stolen my books several times. Last week, I went to the toilet and three girls followed me inside. They shouted at me, threatened me with a knife and told me that I should go study elsewhere and called me a whore. I cannot stand this anymore. I am scared and angry. I tried to talk to the principal but she did not really listen to my problem. I don't know what to do."

Story 3
"My best friend told me other students were bothering him at our school. Since I wanted to help him, I decided to go and talk to them but after I did this they started doing the same to me. Now we are both being bullied: they make fun of us, play dirty tricks and have threatened to beat us up. We have both decided to keep our mouths shut because we are scared things will get worse if we tell someone."


Interests rather than positions
Talk about and lobby for your interest rather than for a certain position. Positions are inflexible. They are certain to lead to conflict and force you into concessions.
Interests on the other hand are flexible. They can usually be made compatible with other people's interests.
Be open for any way of action that ensures your interests.

Listen before you speak
Listen carefully AND repeat the position of the other party in your own words to see whether you have fully understood it. Only in that way will you learn about the interests of the other parties. Continuously ask them "why?" when they come up with their position to force them into thinking in terms of interests instead of positions.

Use objective criteria
When working towards consensus on a question always use objective criteria as your argument. Base the consensus on its effectiveness and reasonableness according to objective criteria. Not having to "give in" will make it much easier for all parties to come to an agreement.

Soft on the people – tough on the issue
Always be very polite and respectful on the personal level, no matter how much you disagree with what the other one is saying. However, when you talk about the issue, be tough on it. Do not make concessions on the issue because you want the other party to like you. They will like you because of the way you treat them personally not because of your stance on issues.

Allow new ideas to develop during negotiations
Let new ideas for serving everyone's interests develop during negotiations instead of only trying to push for the conclusions you have thought of before.
You should even work towards creating new ideas in the discussion. In this way you also multiply the solution-options and thereby multiply the possibilities of your interests being served.

Strive for win-win solutions
A solution in which everyone's interests are served is called a win-win solution. A win-win solution is certain to be fully supported by everyone, because their interests are served in it. Win-win solutions are the only really strong and sustainable solutions.