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Teasing: Not Just Harmless Fun
Teasing: Not Just Harmless Fun
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Teasing: Not Just Harmless Fun

Youth

Teasing is often meant to be playful and harmless. But verbal or physical teasing is never okay and is not a healthy way to show someone you like them. Some people may tease another person to make themselves feel better or more powerful than another person. Other people may tease someone because that person is different from other people. Regardless of why someone teases another person, teasing can easily cross the line into bullying and harassment if it’s done over and over again. Touching other people without their permission, verbally teasing them and bullying are never okay.

If you’re being bullied or harassed, talk with a trusted adult. If the first adult you tell doesn’t do anything, tell another adult you trust. Keep telling adults you trust until you get help.

FAQs

My friend pokes me every time she sees me. I roll my eyes when she does it, but she just laughs because I guess she thinks it’s funny. But it’s really annoying. How can I get her to stop?

The next time you see your friend, you can say something like the following: “Please don’t poke me. I know it’s something you like to do, but it’s not fun for me at all.” Explain to your friend how her teasing makes you feel. A good friend will respect your wishes and stop any behavior that upsets or hurts you. If your friend insists on poking you, even though you have asked her to stop, that’s not okay. Talk with a trusted adult; you should not have to deal with harassment or bullying.

So if I give someone a hug or have a nickname for my friend, is that teasing?

Anything you do to another person that is unwanted or unwelcome could be harassment or teasing. If you do or say something to a person and they ask you to stop or tell you they don’t like it, then stop immediately. If your friend looks uncomfortable about something you did or said, you can ask your friend, “Did that make you uncomfortable?” If it did, apologize to your friend and make sure you don’t do it again. These are ways that you can be respectful of other people’s boundaries and wishes.

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Parents

Teasing is a common practice that is often meant to be playful. Adults and young people will sometimes engage in playful teasing, but teasing can easily cross the line and become hurtful. It’s important that young people know that teasing can be harmful under the following conditions:

  • When one person is targeted
  • When it happens repeatedly, even though the person has asked for it to stop
  • When someone makes fun of a person’s race, culture, gender, ability or some other aspect of their person that is out of their control
  • When it involves touching or crosses physical boundaries

These types of hurtful teasing can be considered bullying or harassment.

Your child should know that bullying and harassment are never okay, even if their intent was not to irritate or hurt the other person. Make sure your child knows verbal teasing, grabbing part of someone’s body, snapping someone’s bra or pulling down a person’s pants, which some may think is funny, can be extremely annoying, embarrassing and hurtful to the other person.

If you see your child verbally or physically teasing another child, encourage your child to consider how the other person might feel. If they wouldn’t want someone verbally teasing, poking or grabbing them, then it’s not something they should do to another person. Make sure your child knows that teasing is not a healthy way to get another person’s attention. Suggest some other ways your child might engage with another person, such as asking how the other person is, engaging in conversation or inviting them to play a game.

Your child should also know that if they have a concern about someone teasing them, they can come to you for help.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

After watching the video with your class, process it using the following discussion questions:

Bring up the topic if you see your child teasing or being teased

If your child is being teased by someone, broach the topic while in the car. “Tracy loves to repeat that nickname she gave you. Does it bother you that she repeats it over and over again?”  This is just one way to begin the conversation. Or if you see your child doing the teasing, you can ask, “Do you think Isabella likes it when you pull on her hair? I know you’re just teasing, but how do you think she feels?” By asking what your child thinks about being teased or teasing, you can find out how they are feeling. You can then offer some suggestions for dealing with the teasing or suggest some better ways to relate to a peer that don’t involve teasing, like asking questions and engaging the person in conversation. This is also a good time to reassure your child that they can come to you if they need help handling a situation with a friend or peer.

Educators default

Teasing is a common practice that is often meant to be playful. Adults and young people will and do engage in playful teasing, but teasing can easily cross the line and become hurtful. It’s important that young people know that teasing can be harmful under the following conditions:

  • When one person is targeted
  • When it happens repeatedly, even though the person has asked for it to stop
  • When someone makes fun of a person’s race, culture, gender, ability or some other aspect of their person that is out of their control
  • When it involves touching or crosses physical boundaries

These types of hurtful teasing can be considered bullying or harassment.

Make sure your students know that bullying and harassment are never okay, even if their intent was not to irritate or hurt the other person. Students should also understand that verbal teasing, grabbing part of someone’s body, snapping someone’s bra or pulling down a person’s pants, which some may think is funny, can be extremely annoying, embarrassing and hurtful to the other person.

If you see a student verbally or physically teasing another student, address the situation. Ask the student doing the teasing to consider how the other person might feel. If they wouldn’t want someone verbally teasing, poking or grabbing them, then it’s not something they should do to another person. Your students should also know that teasing is not a healthy way to get another person’s attention. Suggest some other ways a person might engage with another person, such as asking how the other person is and engaging in conversation.

Students should also know that if they have a concern about someone teasing them, they can come to you for help.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

After watching the video with your class, process it using the following discussion questions:
  • What are some examples of teasing that you saw in the video?
  • How do you think it feels to be teased?
  • What would you suggest someone do if they are being teased?
  • What would you recommend someone do if they witness teasing?