A Guider's thoughts on tackling bullying in the unit

I have found that these techniques often stop the bully because suddenly their tricks aren't invisible any more and they take the point.

I have had this problem because I have several groups of girls from the same classes at their respective schools and issues from school were spilling into Brownies.

When I have to tackle the issues I sit us all down in a pow-wow ring and start by getting the groups of girls to stand up so that THEY can see how the unit was made up of several schools and class/yr groups.
Then I ask lots of questions such as ... have you had people calling you names ... have you ever had children doing other things that you don't like ... have you ever felt left out by others ... have you
ever had a friend taken off to play by another child. Who likes ... being called names? ... having their hair pulled? Who doesn't like X Y or Z? I only put one idea in each question. I also make it very clear that I am not talking about in Brownies but in life, so school, Brownies, dancing etc etc

I asked them to put up their hands if they felt safe enough ... and usually find that they all gradually join in because they realise that they aren't the only people feeling as they do.

I tailor my questions to cover the topics that are causing problems at the time. Once I have begun to make the girls feel less exposed I ask if anyone would like to say how a particular action made them feel. Usually a few will start off but find that even the most introverted will begin to feel safe enough to offer a comment. I ask them what makes them feel unsafe ... again the girls join in well. I do lots of putting up hands ... x feels like this/ has experienced this. Has anyone else? So that the girls who feel they can't speak do have the chance to 'have their say'

I then spend a while saying that our Brownies has to be a safe place to come because that is why we all want to be here etc etc. I also make sure that I include being mocked for losing, dropping something, etc in the list of things that we cover. I make sure that if we hear any mocking laughter, comments, nah nah's, it is jumped on hard with us saying. "I don't know who did that but I heard it and this Brownie pack is a safe place to be so please don't do it again." Usually we know who it was but the first 2 or maybe 3 times tackle it as a general matter only speaking to the specific girl if it really doesn't stop.

I NEVER use the word bullying in talks like this because I feel that it is a very overused word these days so prefer to talk about specific behaviours ... a bit like the words 'good and bad' really.

I have often found that tackled like this it raises the awareness of all the girls to things that are happening and also to the feelings of the others around. I will also encourage all the girls to keep a watch over each other and to talk to us if they see something that they wouldn't like. I ALWAYS say "Talk with us" rather than say TELL someone ... I know it is semantics but it does make a difference.


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