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Teachers: PSHE: Bullying

Last Updated: Wednesday January 26 2005 16:57 GMT

Anti-bullying poetry competition


Bullying special section logo
Used in the right way, words can be very powerful. Pupils of all ages are being encouraged to write poems that raise awareness of the issues around bullying and submit them to the National Anti-Bullying Poetry Competition.

It is being run by the Anti-Bullying Alliance and the Department for Education and Skills.

The winning poems will be published in a special anthology and there are other prizes.

This lesson provides some tips on how to write anti-bullying poetry.

Learning aims
  • Learn about different forms of poetry
  • learn about poetic techniques
  • Write an anti-bullying poem

Bullying Q+A
Students take our bullying quiz (part one). They can do this online or print out a copy.

Answers to quiz:

1c, 2b, 3a, 4b, 5c, 6c, 7a, 8b, 9a

Main activity

Tell students that they are going to write an anti-bullying poem in less than 200 words.

Look at the scenarios in the quiz questions. Pick one of them you think would make a good subject for a poem.

Now imagine you are an object, rather than a person, in that situation. E.g. a skateboard being stolen, a piece of the school playground that someone falls onto, a tile on the wall of the school toilet.

Brainstorm the things that you would see.

Now brainstorm what you would hear, touch, smell and feel.

Take individual words or phrases from your list and try to relate them to something you have experienced.

For example, you might have written down grip (a skateboard would feel the grip of the person trying to take it from its owner). Maybe an elder brother or sister once grabbed you tightly. Remember what it felt like and put it down in words. E.g. Scared, I lay helpless as they seized me with a vice-like grip.

Add these experiences to your brainstorm.

Now use your brainstorm to create a poem.

The poetry judges will be looking for original approaches to the theme of anti-bullying, so poems should highlight one or more of the issues around bullying, rather than singling out bullies or victims.

Poems can be written from any perspective, for example:

  • Personal experience
  • To offer support to someone who has been bullied
  • To offer advice on what to do if you're being bullied
  • To tackle racist or homophobic bullying
  • As an anti-bullying message to schools, parents or other children
  • To raise awareness of bullying
Students may want to use one of these poetic forms:
  • Limerick - lines 1, 2 and 5 rhyme, lines 3 and 4 rhyme.
  • Free Verse - lacks rhyme and has less predictable rhythm.
  • Haiku - first line has 5 syllables, second line has 7 syllables, third line has 5 syllables.
  • Couplet - pairs of lines of poetry that are usually rhymed.
  • Acrostic - the first letters of each line spell out an appropriate word as you read down.
They may want to include these poetic techniques:
  • metaphor - merging a description of one thing into another. E.g. the concrete fist (a fist is not really made of concrete).
  • simile - saying something is like another. E.g. his fist was like concrete.
  • refrain - repetition of part of the poem, a bit like a chorus in a song.
  • onomatopoeia - using words that sound like their meaning e.g. splash.
Extension activities

Get help with bullying
Students take the second part of the bullying quiz.

Answers to quiz:

1a, 2b, 3a, 4c, 5c, 6a, 7b, 8b

From the Anti-Bullying Alliance website which has loads of great resources for teachers (see right hand link).

  • Ask pupils to write a slogan or words for an anti-bullying campaign and incorporate these into a radio or TV commercial promoting an anti-bullying message.

  • Students draw up a students' manifesto, specifying pupils' rights within the school, similar in concept to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • Students design a large anti-bullying mural or wall-hanging. Encourage everyone in the school, pupils and staff, to add their own message or image.

Students present their poems to the class for constructive feedback before submitting them to the National Anti-Bullying Poetry Competition.

More details are contained in the Teachers' background and by clicking on the National Anti-Bullying Poetry Competition link on the right hand side.


For six scripted assemblies, written by Ann Lovelace, go to the "Latest" section of the Anti-bullying Alliance website (see right hand link).

Teachers' background

From the Anti-Bullying Alliance website (see right hand link).

What is bullying?

Bullying special section logo

Bullying is a subjective experience and can take many forms, making it extremely difficult to define.

Children, young people and adults can instigate bullying. The nature of bullying is changing and evolving as technology develops.

Bullying is harmful to all involved, not just the bullied, and can lead to self-doubt, lack of confidence, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, self-harm and sometimes even suicide.

Bullying generally fits into one of two categories: emotionally or physically harmful behaviour. This includes:

Name-calling; taunting; mocking; making offensive comments; kicking; hitting; pushing; taking belongings; text messaging; emailing, gossiping; excluding people from groups; and spreading hurtful and untruthful rumours.

Definitions are different and individuals have different experiences but young people speaking to the Anti-bullying Alliance say bullying is:

  • repetitive, wilful or persistent
  • intentionally harmful, carried out by an individual or a group
  • an imbalance of power leaving the victim feeling defenceless
National Anti-bullying Poetry Competition

Poems should be no longer than 200 words (not including the title).

Poems should be submitted on A4 paper, either typed or handwritten clearly.

Poems can be written in any language, provided an English translation is included.

There are separate entry categories: one for primary pupils, including pupils in primary special schools and PRUs, and one for secondary pupils, including pupils in secondary special schools and PRUs.

In addition, staff are also invited to write their own poems and should complete a separate entry form.

The regional winners' poems, including the overall primary winner and the overall secondary winner, plus the overall special school winner and the overall staff winner, will appear in a special anthology, to be published during 2005.

The four overall winners will also receive an additional prize of a high-quality digital camera each.

Entries must be received by Monday 21 February 2005.

For more information on regional and national levels, downloading entry forms and where to send entries, click on the National Anti-Bullying Poetry Competition link on the right hand side.

For hundreds more news-based lessons, click on Teachers on the left hand side.

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