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It’s just banter

When does banter turn into bullying? Put yourself in someone else’s shoes in this fun drama game.

You will need

  • Pens or pencils
  • A4 paper
  • Something to mark lines (for example, chalk, masking tape, or rope)

Before you begin

  • Use the masking tape or chalk to make a line across the space. It should be long enough for everyone to stand on side by side (without being squashed).
  • Write ‘banter zone’ on one piece of paper and ‘bullying zone’ on another. Use the sticky tack to stick one sign at each end of the line.
  • If you’re working towards the Digital Citizen Staged Activity Badge, make sure to complete the final creative part of this activity to meet requirement 2 of Stage 3.

What’s banter?

  1. The person leading the activity should show everyone the Yellow Card. They should explain that it’s Scouts’ code of practice to keep everyone safe and go through what it says.
  1. Everyone should work together to come up with a simple definition of banter. Banter is playful, friendly teasing. Everyone’s in on the fun and no one is upset or hurt.
  2. Everyone should think about when banter may turn into bullying. Banter turns into bullying if someone feels picked on or unhappy – especially if they want the teasing or joke to stop and it carries on, or if it becomes unkind.

Figure it out

  1. The group should split in half – half should think from the perspective of the main character and half from the perspective of the main character’s friends.
  2. The person leading the game should read one of the character stories below.
  3. As they read, everyone should move along the line according to their perspective as the main character or their friends. They may start in the middle, and move back and forwards towards banter or bullying as the story progresses.
  4. Once the story’s finished, everyone should recap. Did people move towards one zone near the end? Was there a clear point where the banter became something else? Did the main character group move towards the ‘bullying’ end before the main character’s friends?
  5. Everyone should go back to where they began and repeat steps one to four for each of the character stories below. It’s a good idea for everyone to take turns at being the main character and their friends so they understand both perspectives.
  6. By the end, everyone may find it easier to identify when fun banter starts to become unkind and move towards the bullying zone.
  7. Everyone should work together to identify the signs that an interaction’s moving from the banter to the bullying sign – are there words or actions that suggest it’s starting to become unkind?

Character stories


Get creative

For this activity to meet requirement 2 of Stage 3 of the Digital Citizen Staged Activity Badge, everyone should create something to share what they've learned about staying safe online.

  1. After the activity everyone should get into smaller groups and talk about what they learned.
  2. Everyone should think about what to do if they feel uncomfortable when online. Where can they find support and what actions can they take?
  3. Groups should use the main points from their discuss to create something to help share their message about what to do if they feel uncomfortable online.
  1. Every group should share their creation, and the main points from their discussion. If they’re suitable, you could ask the person in charge of the group’s social media or website to share the best ideas online.


This activity was a chance to think about communication. How did the main character and their friends communicate? Did the main character communicate when it was going too far? What signs can people look out for, even if someone doesn’t say anything? Banter might be going too far if someone looks upset, if they’re not laughing anymore, if they’re not joining in, or if they withdraw. How could someone communicate that banter has gone too far? Everyone could practice ways to tell others to stop (whether they’re the target or just someone watching).

This activity also helped everyone to care about others and their feelings. Banter and teasing should be fun for everyone involved; it’s important that everyone can recognise when the fun moves into the bullying zone. In some cases, bullying can even move into a criminal offence. How did it feel to be the main character in each story? How did it feel to be their friends?

What could people do if banter turned into bullying in real life? Online, they could mute, block, or report then talk to a friend or trusted adult. In real life, they could ask clearly and firmly for it to stop, and speak to a friend or trusted adult. Remember, bystanders can make a big different – they can speak up to stop bullying and check that people are OK. At Scouts we have our Yellow Card so that everyone knows how to keep each other safe, and how to respond if people are making you feel uncomfortable in person, or online.


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed.