Each year the town I live in hosts an annual fair to celebrate the town’s pride. I remember coming across a table with flyers educating parents and adolescents about the dangers of substance use in adolescents. I remember striking up a conservation with the woman about what organization she was a part of, the organization’s mission. etc….. I do not know how our conservation turned to bullying, but that is where the flow of the conservation went. We discussed the statistics, the intervention approaches used, and the consequences of chronic bullying. She described a visual tactic that she once saw a social worker use when discussing bullying at a seminar with high school students. Yesterday while I was speaking with a friend they shared a Facebook post about the visual tactic the woman had described over the summer. The conservation reminded me of the powerful imprint the visual image left. I simply knew I had to share.
The visual tactic is simple and requires active involvement from participants. Give each participant a piece of paper, and ask them to fold it, crumble it, stump on it, ball it up, etc…. The list of actions are endless as long as a participant does not hurt himself/herself or another person(s). Let the participants do this for 15-30 seconds. It depends on the group’s reaction. How long does it take for participants to become fully engaged in the activity? Take note of this.
After the appropriate amount of time has passed, ask the participants to stop what they are doing. Instruct them to smooth the paper out to the original form they received it in. Ask the clients to describe how the piece of paper looks in their hands. Try to get answers from a variety of participants, and summarize what they say to point out the similarities. Now compare the marks left on the piece of paper to the scars left from bullying. Even though the behavior has stopped, the marks cannot be removed. The paper is not the same just as a person who experiences bullying is not the same. Emphasize that actions have consequences. Explore the feelings and thoughts participants are experiencing. Try to provide a sense of closure at the end of the activity that is related to the larger topic discussed.
Remember the power of visual demonstrations.
Remember the power of thinking outside the box.
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