Bullying remains an issue in schools everywhere, leaving bullied kids scared and unsure about whether to tell an adult what's going on. Teachers can help students learn how to handle bullying situations, as well as discuss what motivates bully behaviour. Classroom games emphasising bully prevention may help kids retain learnt information and make them feel more comfortable about discussing such incidents.
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Board games and card games
Franklin Learning Systems manufactures educational games to teach children about actions they can take to help prevent and reduce bullying. The games provide nonviolent ways to discourage bullying, while providing bullies with pro-social, nonviolent ways to accomplish their goals without bullying. The games present bullying scenarios and call on players to offer advice and learn when it's time to seek the help of an adult.
Franklin Learning's board games include Bully Wise Play-2-Learn Dominoes Game, recommended for grades 1 to 5; Bullies to Buddies, recommended for grades 2 to 5; Bully Busters, recommended for middle school students; and Block the Bully Cycle, recommended for grades 8 through adult. Franklin also manufactures Bully Safe, a card game recommended for grades 5 to 8.
Based on "The Bully Free Classroom" book by Allan L. Beane, Ph.D., the Bully Free Card Game bears similarities to Crazy Eights. Recommended for students up through grade 8, the game features four categories: Bully Busters; Confidence Builders; Ways to Stay Bully Free; and What Would You Do If. Players offer suggestions and responses to bullying questions, and, in turn, move closer to being "bully-free" or "out" of the game.
The Internet provides games to help educate students on bullying prevention. In the Bully Roundup, accessible at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Bam! Body and Mind site, players try to make their way around the board before their opponent when playing. Players choose a character and roll dice on the screen. Board spaces either reveal negative bullying actions (sending players in the reverse direction) or positive behaviour (which sends players forward). Along the way, players answer bully-related questions, earning points for correct answers.
Players challenge the school's biggest bullies to an after-school rocket race in Beat the Bully, accessible at the PBS Kids site. After choosing a character and a bully, players answer five rounds of questions, advancing in the race for each correct answer. If players get a question wrong, either the bully moves ahead or they stay tied. Three or more correct answers leads players to the bonus round, where they try to avoid colliding with asteroids and a space bus.
Role-playing games can provide effective learning for bully prevention. As part of a small group, students of all ages brainstorm bullying situations and present them to the class as a whole. Students choose one scenario to present and plan the performance. For maximum impact, students should present alternative endings; for instance, they may show a situation in which the bully ends up with the upper hand, where the victim stands up for herself or where a bystander takes action and intervenes.
If any of the scenarios involve physical contact such as hitting or pushing, students should not follow through on that behaviour; rather, they should simulate the action. After a group has presented its bullying episode, the class should discuss alternative solutions or tactics to what the groups presented and which ones they think resolved the bully situation best (if the group offered a resolution). Teachers can provide incentives by awarding prizes such as extra credit points to groups with exceptional presentations and/or resolutions.
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