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Facts about bullying What you can do A story Bully Prevention Story

The Stork and the Cranes

An Aesop's fable Grades 3-8. Themes: Wise choices, peer pressure, friendship, responsibility, by-standing.

Once upon a time, a lone stork sat nesting in a tree. Suddenly a flock of cranes flew by.  "Come with us," they called. "We're going to a field where there is tender grain to eat, as much as you can hold!"

Eagerly the hungry stork flew with the cranes to the field. But before the birds had so much as taken a bite, a farmer crept up behind them and threw a heavy net over them all.

"Oh please" cried the Stork, "I'm a stork, you see, not a crane like the rest. It wasn’t my idea to feed here. I don't belong to this flock!"

"You may not have planned this caper, " replied the farmer, "But you kept company with thieves, and now you will share their punishment as well."

Tips for the Telling

This is a simple story for telling in such a manner. It might help to show your students pictures of storks and cranes so that they can imagine the difference between them.

Personalizing the story ideas through discussion:

This is a great story to talk about peer pressure, and bystander "join-in" bullying. All young people experience peer pressure on a regular basis. Telling stories about it can help them to be more aware of when it is happening to them, and the consequences of the way they respond. The stork in the story does not think that it should pay the price for the crime because it was not its idea to graze in the field, and it was not one of the gang. Do your students agree with the farmer's verdict? Have they ever been in a similar predicament?

This story can also help increase awareness of the bystander’s role in bullying. Most people think that as long as they are not the actual ones bullying or teasing they are not responsible. But to the victim of bullying, anyone who laughs or stares, or even says nothing is in some way joining in. Students need to know that by witnessing bullying and saying nothing to the bully, they are giving them a green light to continue their behavior. They are also giving the victim the signal that others think the behavior is acceptable. This can cause the victim to feel further isolated.

I suggest that you read the book The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander by Barbara Coloroso (New York: HarperCollins, 2003). In her book she includes an illustration of Dan Olweus' "Bullying Circle". This circle shows all of the characters involved in bullying, from the target, the bully, the active and passive supporters, to the passive observers, to those who would like to help but are too afraid, or don't know how, to those who actively try to help. By showing this cast of characters to your students you can help them to think about which roles they play, and the complex feelings involved at each level, and you can help them to find the courage and skills to move around this circle to take on more empowered roles.

Dramatic Reenactments: Let small groups retell this one together, or for the whole group.  Have a courtroom trial for the stork and let the students debate both sides of the story.

Role-playing: Let your students stand in the above mentioned bullying circle, and role play some bullying scenarios that show each role. Read some of the reasons that students give for not standing up for targets, (see my section on Bullying Prevention for this list, as well as the Coloroso book,) and discuss this with your class. Invite your students to role-play situations in which someone is bullying an individual and the bystanders need to choose how not to join in and how to protect the target of bullying. Let the students stop the action and brainstorm things that the bystanders can do and say and what the challenges and benefits are to taking these actions.

Story Sharing: Everyone has a story about peer pressure both in positive and negative ways. Most children have also been witnesses to bullying. They also have a story about a time when they did or did not do anything about the bullying incident. Many will have a story about being in a group when one person did something wrong, and everyone got into trouble, or about getting into trouble for what someone else did.

Creative Adaptation: Let your students retell this story with their own adaptations; modernizing, changing the characters, fictionalizing personal experiences. They can also create original stories about characters who get into trouble with a group or who help a group member to stop getting into trouble. They can also create stories in which someone is being bullied and other children find ways to help them.