This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills has challenged writer to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a balloon. It can be a party balloon or a hot air balloon. How does it add to your story? Go where the prompt leads.
Balloons are almost synonymous with fun and celebrations. They come in all shapes and sizes to decorate parties and other events. A child with a balloon is usually a child with a smiling face – until the balloon bursts, pops or escapes.
What do balloons and bullies have in common, you may ask? I’m sure there are many ways balloons could be used for bullying.
With this Friday 16 March being the National Day Against Bullying and Violence, I decided to write a story that could be shared with children and used as a stimulus for discussing bullying, bullying prevention, and what it means to be a friend. I hope you like it.
Surprises for Marnie
Brucie loved surprising Marnie on her way to school each day.
Marnie expected that Brucie would meet her, but she never knew where.
On Monday, he jumped from behind a bush screaming at her.
On Tuesday, he stuck out his foot and tripped her.
On Wednesday, he snuck up behind and pulled her hair.
On Thursday, he popped a balloon in her ear.
On Friday, he surprised Marnie by not surprising her at all.
But, after she’d put her bag away, he pulled it out and emptied its contents on the floor.
“Whose mess is this?” demanded Mrs Brown.
What do you think? I have put the story together with some teaching suggestions in a resource to add to the readilearn collection.
The story has the potential to initiate discussion around issues and questions such as the following; for example:
- What is a friend? What do friends do?
- What is a surprise? Are all surprises good?
- What is bullying? Are some people always friendly? Do some people always bully?
- How do you think Marnie responds to Brucie’s “surprises”? How does her body feel?
- Why would Brucie bully Marnie?
- Do you think Marnie tells anyone about what Brucie is doing? Why wouldn’t she tell?
- What should you do if you see someone being mean or bullying another?
- Have you ever been bullied?
- How did you respond? What would be a better way to respond?
- What could Marnie have done to get Brucie to stop?
- Have you ever bullied anyone?
These are just a beginning. The Bullying No Way website has some great resources to assist you in educating children about bullying and its prevention.
“an ongoing misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that causes physical and/or psychological harm.”
The important words here are:
ongoing, repeated, misuse of power, causing harm
Single or isolated acts of unkindness or aggression are not considered bullying.
Brucie is obviously engaging in bullying behaviour as he repeatedly abuses Marnie causing her physical as well as psychological (fear, anxiety) harm.
Marnie is reluctant to talk about the situation for fear of making it worse.
Children need to learn that there are safe people they can talk to about incidents that occur, and they also need to learn strategies for responding to unkindness and bullying.
When discussing bullying situations, it is important to not label a child as either victim or bully, but to describe the behaviour. Behaviour can be changed but it is often difficult to remove a label once it has been applied. What we need most are supportive schools that fosters acceptance and respect.
I also interviewed Karen Tyrrell, Australian author of empowering books for children and adults, about her junior fiction books Song Bird Superhero and The Battle of Bug World that, along with Stop the Bully, have important messages for kids about bullying.
One of my other favourite books about bullying is Willy the Wimp by Anthony Browne.
What are your favourites ways of discussing bullying with children?
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.