I really wish I could have talked to someone about it.


This is a role-play activity that addresses issues of
• Interpersonal violence
• Bullying

Related rights

• Freedom from degrading treatment
• The right to dignity
• The right to be protected from all forms of physical or mental violence


• To develop knowledge and understanding about the causes and consequences of bullying
• To develop skills to confront the problem
• To create empathy with the victims of bullying


• Copies of the scenes to be role-played (one scene per group)
• One copy of the sheet of "real stories"
• Space to perform the role plays

Key Date
  • 4 JuneInternational Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression


1. Introduce the activity. Explain that they are going to work in small groups to make short role-plays on the theme of bullying.
2. Carry out a brief brainstorming session on "What is bullying?" to ensure that everyone agrees about what bullying is, knows the different forms it can take, and that it can happen in any school, college, club, organisation or workplace.
3. 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.
4. Once they are ready, ask each group, in turn, to present their scene.
5. Leave any comments until all groups have presented their scenes and then come together into plenary for discussion.

Debriefing and evaluationGoto top

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 for three participants to volunteer to read out the three "real stories". Ask for general comments about the cases and then go on to talk about the causes of bullying, how it can be tackled and about the rights involved.
• How do you think it feels to be bullied?
• Is the person being bullied responsible for it?
• Why do bullies bully? For example, are they 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?
• What would you have done if you were the person being bullied?
• What should be done with bullies? How can they learn to stop bullying? Should they be punished? 
• Which human rights were at stake in the different case stories?

Tips for facilitatorsGoto top

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 out the scenes accordingly.

VariationsGoto top

Instead of role playing, the three groups can analyse each scene and explain how they will solve the problem.

You could choose to concentrate on one of the scenes and give each group the same scenario to work on. Thus each group will present their own version of the story with their different possible solutions and alternatives. The advantage is that you should get greater insights into the issues and more solutions to the problem.

If you are short of time or do not have space for role play, you can use the real stories as cases for discussion in small groups. Ask people to reflect on the situations and to propose possible concrete solutions and alternatives, and to consider what they would do if they were the person being bullied?

Suggestions for follow-upGoto top

Find out if there are any programmes locally that train peer educators (young volunteers) in conflict mediation. Ask a speaker to come to talk to the group and consider the possibility of setting up a system of peer mediators in your school, college or club.

If you are interested in examples of good practice of peer education then look at "The peacemaker project in Offenbach, Germany, an example for peer mediation in schools", section 5.1 in Domino.

If you want to look at cyberbullying, then take a look at the activity "My life is not a show". Alternatively, the group may like to develop an anti-bullying policy for their school or organisation. The method described in the activity "Responding to racism" of how to develop an anti-racist policy is also appropriate for developing an anti-bullying policy.

In "Stories told by young people" section 4 of Domino, you can read Gabor's story about how he was bullied at school because he was Jewish. You could use it to start a discussion about antisemitism or to ask the question, "What would you do in this situation?"

Ideas for actionGoto top

Find a group or association that works to address bullying in your country, and offer your support.
If 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 support group in your own school or community to help young people who are being bullied.

Further informationGoto top

Bullies sometimes don't understand how bad they make the person feel. Maybe they think they are just teasing someone or playing silly jokes on them and it is just "a good laugh"! It may have started out that way, but over a couple of days or weeks it starts to upset the person they are making fun out of. Sometimes bullies think that picking on people makes them look cool. They could be jealous of someone or what they look like. Maybe they are used to getting a lot of attention and if someone takes their lime light then they don't like it, so they hurt the person. Often bullies lack social skills and don't know how to be a good friend. Bullies may have problems at home; when people witness violence or people being nasty to each other at home, they copy what they see. They feel bad about things and want to hurt other people to make them feel bad too. Corporal punishment may also lead to bullying because it teaches children that violence is an acceptable and appropriate strategy for resolving conflict or getting people to do what they want. You can read about the Council of Europe's campaign to stop spanking here: www.coe.int "Abolishing corporal punishment of children, questions and answers".

Bullies need help; they need to understand the reasons why they are bullying and to learn how to change their behaviour, especially how to manage their feelings in ways that don't hurt other people, and how to be assertive in order to get what they want. Getting involved in practical activities where they can find new interests that will take them away from bullying and where they can show their talents will help them to develop self esteem and to be able to think of themselves as someone who is a good person who doesn't hurt others.
For more information, see: www.bullying.co.uk , www.bullying.org, www.bullyonline.org or put "bullying" into your search engine.

HandoutsGoto top

PDFDownload as PDF

Scenes for the role-plays

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.

Real 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 in a funny way. Then I realised that they were jealous because I was popular with the boys. Now I find little notes on my locker door 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, they shouted at me, threatened me with a knife and told me that I should go study somewhere else and called me a whore. I cannot stand this any more. 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.”