Bullying today has become a very serious problem with many consequences parents and teachers rarely consider until it becomes to late so one should recognize that creative student projects can be done so that kids can identify bullying or even prevent bullying are limited but not beyond merit.
The thing that teachers, no matter the grade level, should consider is how the project should be handled and what kind of audience it is they are dealing with since no two groups will ever respond the same way to the same approach.
More valuable than what you have to say is what the parents themselves have to say to your ideas for the class because in many instances they had been bullies or bullied at one point themselves. The teacher must address the parents of the students in their class as a group before doing any project without a majority agreement on how the bullying situation will be addressed.
If you decide to do a play that teaches the negative consequences of bullying you need to do it right and it should be done in full view of the entire school rather then class by class. Those actually identified as bullies should be made to perform in the play so they are constantly “programmed” against the very same behaviors they manifest by playing the role of the bullied in full view of the student body, not to mention have the people they actually bullied (depending on how bad the harassment was) act as the bullies toward them.
The result of this should be three fold:
Actual bullies are attention seekers, thus with the need sated they will no longer feel the desire for negative attention and this makes acting perfect for them.
By making bullies and the children they bullied reverse their real life roles in the class room during a rehearsed stage performance they can develop an understanding of the other person’s view point. It also forces them to actually work together and serve the common good as team players. (Carefully monitored by teachers at all times)
Children no matter the age should see exactly the kind of behavior they should avoid and a rehearsed performance also satisfies this need.
An approach that may also yield effective results is allowing open dialog between the bullies and the bullied almost like two rival nations in peace talks except instead of the United Nations as mediator the teacher becomes the mediator and enforcer of what ever terms they agree to. Talks should be held in full view of the class so that students can also help enforce the peace terms they will eventually arrive at. In this way a teacher can give both parties valuable tools for the adult world they will one day enter by giving them the skills to bargain and negotiate with people they don’t like without resorting to violence.
Some rules the teacher should consider for this activity are as follows:
Openly hear out both sides without actually taking a side for or against either party.
Keep the conversation civil and insist that both children or groups of children do not resort to threats and name calling.
Never allow physical violence and make sure to keep your eyes on both children during the entire conversation.
If an agreement can not be reached then you are responsible for reaching it for them based on what you hear the children say to one another.
Always remember that you are the adult and responsible for your student’s behavior.
The golden rule to any student project you plan no matter how harmless is that the real person you are trying to reach is the parent who will ultimately hear about the activity from the child when they get home and could enforce it’s value or destroy your progress with a single negative remark.