Stop Bullying – Wear Pink

Update: All of the bully poems are now available online.

Tomorrow (27 Feb) is wear pink day, and according to Christy Clark:

Bullying is a major problem in our schools, workplaces, homes, and over the Internet … on February 27th I encourage all of you to wear something pink to symbolize that we as a society will not tolerate bullying anywhere. I wish I could take credit for this idea but it comes from two incredible Nova Scotia high school students … [more on Christy’s website]

Andrea, my wife, was involved in anti-bullying program development for several years, and unfortunately not enough has been done to really address the issues. One of her sources of inspiration was Barbara Coloroso, author of The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander. A few years back, Andrea wrote a series of thirteen poems on the theme of bullying and then developed discussion topics and suggested learning activities for each one. She never published these, [update: more of Andrea’s poems now at BullyPoems] but I have convinced her to let me post one on my blog for today:

Belinda Bates

Belinda Bates is a bully
A bossy, belligerent bully.
Though a beauty and bright,
She’s so full of spite
But adults don’t know she’s a bully.

“Oh please let me help, Miss O’Neil”
“What a lovely tie, Mister Beal”
She’s as sweet as canned spinach
A fake to the finish,
Yet, grown-ups are sure she’s for real.

But …

If they’d walk out on the playground
On any given day
They’d see Miss Bates in action,
And much to their dismay,
They’d see …

A shy girl is shunned and she’s teased,
Her brother is kicked in the knees,
Another called “Fatso”
Her clique?
They all laughed so.
Such pain she inflicts with great ease.

But …

I can see it happen.
And I know it isn’t right.
I can tell a teacher,
And refuse to watch a fight
I can help save the shy girl.
Lift her brother to his feet.
Call Fatso by his real name,
And refuse to join the clique.

I can even be nice to Belinda,
For I’m sure there is something wrong.
I think that she is really unhappy.
Let’s see if we can’t get along.

Topics for Discussion:

  • Why are adults often not aware of a bully’s behaviour and how does a bully manage to pass undetected?
  • Describe different types of bullying: physical; verbal; relational; or scoial. How do they manifest themselves.
  • What are cliques? When do cliques become a problem?
  • What roles can an onlooker play?
  • When should you intervene, and how?
  • What might be the underlying cause of bullying behaviour?

Learning Activities:

  • Using the first stanza as an example, practise using alliteration to write a stanza about bullying.
  • Using the phrase “She’s as sweet as canned spinach” as an example, write other similes to describe bullies.
  • Explore empathy by finding possible explanations (not justifications) for Belinda’s behaviour.
  • Try methods of intervening by role-playing.

13 Responses to “Stop Bullying – Wear Pink”

  1. Andrea

    Harold tells me that this post has generated a lot of traffic. This is obviously a topic which touches all of our lives.For those who are interested,here is another poem:

    Fabulous Patricia

    My friend Patricia’s a fabulous girl.

    Her hair is gold with a bit of a curl.

    She smiles like an angel and sings like a bird.

    The likes of Patricia have never been heard.

    She has such a talent for singing a song.

    Her voice is so clear, and so sweet, and so strong.

    There isn’t a doubt; she is terribly gifted.

    When listening to her I feel so uplifted.

    That’s why it’s so sad,

    The things that they say.

    Those kids on the playground,

    I heard them today.

    Because they are jealous of what they have heard,

    They tease her,

    They taunt her,

    They call her a nerd.

    It’s a terrible loss and it must not be.

    Someone must fix this,

    I guess it is me.

    The next time those kids,

    Are being unkind

    I’ll say to them “Stop!”

    And perhaps they may find …

    The fact that she’s pretty,

    The fact she can sing,

    Is not for one moment

    A terrible thing.

    I can speak French.

    He can run laps.

    You can score goals.

    And maybe, perhaps …

    I’ll be your fan.

    You can be mine.

    So, sing on, Patricia,

    And let yourself shine.

    Fabulous Patricia Appendix

    Topics for discussion:

    What are the causes and effects of jealousy?
    How would you define self-esteem? What effects can bullying have on a victim’s self-esteem?
    How can onlookers positively and negatively affect a bullying incident? What is a social conscience?
    Describe what is meant by loyalty. What is the value of a good friend?
    When and how should you intervene in a bullying incident?

    Classroom Activities:

    Try to recall an occasion when you felt jealous. Write a short account of how you felt and what you may have done or thought of doing. As a class, brainstorm some constructive methods of dealing with these negative thoughts and urges.
    List ten qualities which a good friend displays. How might you go about applying these qualities in a relationship?
    Pick names out of a hat and tell that person one thing they do well or that you like about them.
    In small groups, put on a play about a clique ganging up on someone. Pretend that a few onlookers decided to intervene. What do they do and say?

  2. Joan Vinall-Cox

    I LOVE the poems. They remind me of some of R.D.Laing’s collections of what I think of as “psychological patterns poetry”. I’ve seen both those patterns far too many times.

  3. Andrea

    Thank you for your encouraging responses, Joan and Al. These poems and many others have just sat in my computer files for years now. Writing them was cathartic, but perhaps they could assist others too. Any ideas as to what best to do with them? I am inclined to create a web-site and just make them available for educators and parents to use or make suggestions, as they see fit. I’d appreciate some input.

  4. andrea

    Thanks Graham.

    I had originally thought (naively) that I might contribute my poems and the attached pedagogical tools to our children’s schools. I forwarded them to the guidance counsellor and never received a response. I asked the middle school if someone would test-drive one or two in the classroom, but had no takers there either. This reception did not encourage me to pursue the project any further…in fact, it made me feel quite foolish.

    I therefore really appreciate the positive feed-back.


  5. josephine

    if u stand up u will show people that your not a chicken and i no that its hard but it works if u need a friend u can alwas ask ur mom or dad there the best friend in the world my mom is

  6. andrea wilson

    Hey Josephine!
    I am very happy that you feel secure with the knowledge that you have a Mom who will be there for you when you need it. You are very fortunate. When you or someone you know is being bullied it is not easy to stand up and speak out. It is very admirable but you need to know that sometimes you can get caught in the cross-fire. That is why it is always advisable to enlist the help of a trusted adult. I am glad you have your Mom. I too would go to bat for my kids.

  7. Shirley Nedry

    The URL above is for our main school website.

    My 6th grade Skills for Adolescence students LOVE your poems. They cut to the heart of the bullying issue. The rhythm and diction are so appropriate for these 12 year old students.

    We choral read and solo read and discuss these poems in my class.

    Some of my students would love to record these and put them on a class blog about bullying, with attribution to you as the author.

    They would do a great job and this would make the poems mean even more to them.


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