Bullying behavior is repeated, aggressive and makes a child feel disempowered. One way to empower youth is to give them a voice. When trying to figure out what is going on with a specific bullying event, make sure to get each individual perspective with the child alone. Often you won’t learn the whole story when speaking to children in groups. Understand the context. Don’t assign roles such as victim and perpetrator.
When you are speaking in groups, it is important to set the tone to be sure that everyone’s voice is heard and respected. One way to set the tone is to ask what the youth think will make a good conversation. Start by stating that with the activity/conversation, it is important that every participant has an equal right to be heard with respect and without judgement. You can ask the group how they might accomplish this:
- How can we be sure that everyone has a chance to speak?
- How can we listen without being judgmental?
- How can we conduct the activity to make sure everyone’s feelings and experiences are respected?
Usually youth have a very good idea of how to accomplish these goals, and stating them at the outset reminds them to follow basic principles of good communication.
More on preparing for activities: