For adults, it’s easy to understand the severe damage bullying can cause, but for the kids who are living it, it can take a while for the reality to truly sink in. That’s why one Birmingham, United Kingdom, teacher had the brilliant idea to use a pair of apples to illustrate the effects of bullying, and her Facebook post about her lesson is going insanely viral.
Rosie Dutton is a teacher who tours schools in her area, teaching kids mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Earlier this week, she posted on her Facebook page Relax Kids Tamworth about an experiment she did to show kids what really happens when someone gets bullied.
Dutton brought in two apples to the class—one untouched and one that she’d secretly bruised by tapping it repeatedly on the floor. On the outside, they looked exactly the same, and her class noted that “both were red, were of similar size and looked juicy enough to eat.”
I picked up the apple I’d dropped on the floor and started to tell the children how I disliked this apple, that I thought it was disgusting, it was a horrible color and the stem was just too short. I told them that because I didn’t like it, I didn’t want them to like it either, so they should call it names too.
Dutton said the class looked at her “like I was insane,” but they soon got into the game. “We passed the apple around the circle calling it names, ‘you’re a smelly apple,’ ‘I don’t even know why you exist,’ ‘you’ve probably got worms inside you’ etc,” she wrote. “We really pulled this poor apple apart. I actually started to feel sorry for the little guy.”
Then, Dutton passed around the other apple—the one she’d left untouched—and had the kids “say kind words to it, ‘You’re a lovely apple,’ ‘Your skin is beautiful,’ ‘What a beautiful color you are.’” They compared the apples again, and noted that they still looked exactly the same.
Then, Dutton cut the apples open.
The apple the class was kind to was crisp, juicy, and ready to eat. The apple who’d been bullied was bruised, brown, and mushy inside. Dutton explained, “I think there was a lightbulb moment for the children immediately. They really got it, what we saw inside that apple, the bruises, the mush and the broken bits is what is happening inside every one of us when someone mistreats us with their words or actions.”
Dutton explained that sometimes people “don’t show or tell others how they are feeling,” but the damage is still there—just like it was inside the mushy apple. And, that’s why it’s so important to be kind with both our words and our actions.
Since her post went up, it’s been shared over 200,000 times and has more than 168,000 likes. Thousands have also commented to say her “experiment” should be recreated in classrooms all over the world to help kids understand why bullying is such a serious issue. Dutton’s lesson is stunningly simple, but it packs a powerful punch, even for adults. It’s hard to imagine a more effective way to illustrate the mental and emotional impact of being bullied.
Dutton thanked everyone for their support and said, more than anything, she just wants people to understand how much power we have to eliminate bullying. She continued:
Unlike an apple, we have the ability to stop this from happening. We can teach children that it’s not ok to say unkind things to each other and discuss how it makes others feel. We can teach our children to stand up for each other and to stop any form of bullying, just as one little girl did today when she refused to say unkind words to the apple.
“The tongue has no bones,” Dutton wrote at the end of her post, “but it’s strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words.”