||49 Practical Activities and Methods for Human
Rights Education > Violence in my life
Violence in my life
"Follow the three Rs: Respect for self
/ Respect for others and / Responsibility for all your actions."
The Dalai Lama
||Peace and Violence,
Human security, General
|| 60 minutes
||This is a discussion activity in which people explore their
experiences of inter-personal violence.
- The right to life, liberty and security of person
- The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
- To be able to identify oneself not only as an object
of violence but also as someone who could be a source
- To encourage the development of skills to deal with
violence in positive ways
- To develop values of tolerance and responsibility.
- Explain that this is an opportunity for the participants
to share thoughts and feelings about personal experiences of
inter-personal violence, both when people were violent to them
and when they were violent to others.
- Make sure that everyone knows and understands the rules for
participatory group work: that everyone should be treated with
respect, that what anyone says is held in confidence and that
no one is to feel under pressure to say anything which makes
them feel uncomfortable.
- Conduct a brainstorm of the word "violence" and
ask them to give examples of everyday violence, for instance,
verbal abuse, insults, sarcasm, queue-jumping, barging in front
of someone, smacking a child or hitting/being hit, burglary,
petty theft or pickpocketing, vandalism, etc.
- Ask everyone to take five minutes to reflect about personal
a) someone acted violently towards them
b) when they acted violently towards someone else
c) when they saw someone else being violent but did not intervene.
Debriefing and evaluation
Start with a short discussion about the activity itself and
whether or not it was difficult, and, if so, why. Then go on to
analyse the causes and effects of the different situations a),
b), and c) above. Ask for volunteers to offer their experiences
for general discussion. Let them say what happened and how they
feel about it and then open the discussion to everyone.
- Why did the violent situation happen?
- How would other members of the group have behaved in similar
- Why did you behave the way you did?
- How could you have behaved differently? Has the rest of the
group any suggestions?
- What could anyone have done to prevent the incident from
- In the case of c), why didn't they intervene?
- What were the causes of the incident?
- How many incidents were the result of misunderstandings,
how many the result of bitterness, spite or jealousy and how
many the result of differences of culture and custom, opinion
- What do people understand by the word "tolerance"?
How would they define it?
- Is it right that people should be completely tolerant of
everything other people do or say?
- Why is tolerance a key value for the promotion of human rights?
Tips for facilitators
Be prepared for surprises and to support anyone who find this
activity difficult or upsetting. You cannot know everyone's background
nor what is happening or what has happened in their families.
It might be that some participants have had bad experiences with
violence of different forms. Stress that the purpose of this activity
is to develop skills for dealing with violence, by recognising
the causes, acknowledging feelings and emotions, and developing
skills for acting assertively in order to control the situation
and to find non-violent means of responding to violent situations.
Tell people to remember Article 1 of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights: "all human beings are born free and equal
in dignity and rights". If we expect others to follow this
Article, then we too have to follow it. If you have more than
ten people in the group you could divide them up into small groups
to share their stories. Variations
This makes a good drama activity. Ask two, three or four people
to develop a short role-play of an incident. The rest of the group
observe. You can then stop the role-play at intervals and ask
the audience to comment or to make suggestions as to how the role-play
should continue. Alternatively, members of the audience can intervene
directly to take over from the actors and develop alternative
Suggestions for follow-up
Find out about organisations that provide
support for victims of violence, for example, telephone help-lines
or victims' support networks. Find out about other organisations
that promote understanding and tolerance in the community. If
you would like to continue working with the theme of peace and
violence you could look at the activity "Living
in a perfect world". Find the answers to the clues to
complete a peace mandala!
Alternatively, if you would like to focus on a better and more
peaceful future, then you may like to do the activity, "Dreams"
in the all different all equal education pack.
Ideas for action
Get in touch with an organisation that works to promote peace
and non-violence in the community and find out how you can get