Cross The Line

Type of Activity: Diversity, Behavior Awareness, Empathy

Props/Materials Needed: Two ropes or masking tape, large room (big enough for entire group)

Set Up: This activity is one of the more powerful activities in this book.  In everyday speech when someone has “crossed the line,” it usually means that they have gone too far or stepped over a boundary.  These scenarios are breeding grounds for conflict.  This activity will allow participants to reflect on times when they have demonstrated a behavior (or one demonstrated towards them) that crossed the line.  Best for groups of 5 or more and takes about 20 minutes for activity; 30–45 minutes to debrief

Put two ropes (or tape lines) parallel to one another in the center of the room on the ground.  Place them 8–10 feet apart and span the length of the room. Ask your participants to line up on one side of the rope you placed on the ground.   Everyone should be on the same side of the room, facing the line.

Process: Introduce the activity:  Explain to the group that this activity involves people’s feelings.  It requires four things: respect, sensitivity, silence, and not judging others.  Specifically describe these four things with the participants:

  • Respect:  Being respectful means that you will refrain from intruding upon or interfering with someone’s experience.
  • Sensitivity: This means you will be aware of and responsive to the feelings of others.  Let them know that they might experience strong feelings during this activity—sadness, anger, guilt, etc.
  • Silence:  The activity should be done in silence to create a safe environment for individuals to cross the line.  If laughing or side comments were allowed, it may inhibit a participant’s willingness to share.
  • Not Judging Others:  You have the choice to cross the line or not cross the line—even if the prompt pertains to you.  It is important not to judge others because of this rule.  An individual may choose  to not cross the line, even if the prompt is truthful for them.  It may be tempting to form an opinion about someone else in the room from circumstances presented in the activity.

Verbalize to the group that this activity is about individual choices, not their friends or the people standing next to them.

Once you have covered the “rules” to the activity, you may ask the group if they feel they are ready to begin.  Once they are able to be quiet, respectful, and sensitive, they may cross the line.

Explain to the group that you will read a statement out loud.  If that statement is true for them or if they identify with that group, they may cross the line.  Explain that they should walk across to the other rope, step across the line, turn around, face the other participants on the other side of the line and pause there.  Give an example: “if you are a male, please cross the line.”  After the participants have crossed the line you say out loud: “Notice how it feels to cross the line; look who is with you, look who is not with you and cross back over.”  Allow for a few seconds of reflection time before you begin your next prompt.

The goal of this activity is to help break down the barriers between people that perpetuate acts of unkindness.  Participants become aware that others face many of the same insecurities, fears, and challenges that they do.  They learn that showing your feelings does not make you a weak person, rather it takes courage.  They learn that other individuals can be appreciative and supportive when they reveal those feelings.  Be careful not to be judgmental or shaming in this activity.  Be supportive and accepting.  All participants will most likely have a reason to cross the line.  Some participants will need your support in realizing that they may be modeling behaviors that they have seen or passing along treatment they have received.

Prompts for Teachers

  • Cross the line if people routinely mispronounce your name.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been judged or teased because of the color of your skin.
  • Cross the line if you have ever been the only person of your race/ethnicity in a classroom.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been put down for the way you teach your students.
  • Cross the line if you have ever thought your subject matter is more important than others.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever wanted to connect with others at (insert school name here) but don’t have the time.
  • Cross the line if you feel you connect with high-performing kids better than lower-performing kids at (insert school name here).
  • Cross the line if you feel you connect with low-performing kids better than higher-performing kids at (insert school name here).
  • Cross the line if you have ever made assumptions about a student’s academic performance based on the way they dress.
  • Cross the line if you have ever intentionally hurt someone’s feelings.
  • Cross the line if you feel you change your teaching methods based on your students’ abilities.
  • Cross the line if you have ever been teased because of the part of the world or country you or your family comes from.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever felt pressure from your friends or a colleague to do something you didn’t want to do and felt sorry for it afterwards.
  • Cross the line if you have ever judged another educator’s teaching style because it was “different” than yours.
  • Cross the line if you've ever stood by and watched while someone was hurt and said or did nothing because you were too afraid.
  • Cross the line if you feel that you have a unique strategy for connecting with kids that you would be willing to share with others.

Debriefing Topics:

  • What are some feelings that came up for you during this activity?
  • Why was it so important to be quiet, respectful, and sensitive?
  • Why was it important not to judge others?
  • What was the hardest part for you?
  • What did you learn about yourself?  About others?
  • What do you want to remember about what we’ve just experienced?
  • Why is it important to be allies to each other?
  • How can we avoid treating others poorly in our school?

Prompts for Corporate Populations

  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been teased or called a bad name or made fun of in the office.
  • Cross the line if someone else has taken credit for your work.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been reprimanded without getting a chance to explain yourself.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been judged or teased because of the color of your skin.
  • Cross the line if someone continually brings up a mistake you made a long time ago.
  • Cross the line if you have ever gossiped about another co-worker.
  • Cross the line if you have been bullied by someone at work.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever borrowed something from a co-worker and not returned the item.
  • Cross the line if you have intentionally hurt someone’s feelings.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever felt pressure from a colleague to do something you didn’t want to do and felt sorry for it afterwards.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever stood by and watched while someone was hurt or put down and you said or did nothing because you were too afraid.
  • Cross the line if you have ever started a rumor about someone at work that was untrue.
  • Cross the line if people routinely mispronounce your name.
  • Cross the line if you routinely miss important deadlines.

Debriefing Topics:

  • What are some feelings that came up for you during this activity?
  • Why was it so important to be quiet, respectful, and sensitive?
  • Why was it important not to judge others?
  • What was the hardest part for you?
  • What did you learn about yourself?  About others?
  • What did you want to remember about what we’ve just experienced?
  • How can having a healthy level of empathy for some of these things reduce the amount of conflict in our office?

Prompts for School Groups

  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been teased or called a bad name or made fun of.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been picked last in games or sports or left out of an activity all        together.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been called a mean name or put down just because you’re a girl.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been judged or teased because of the color of your skin.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been teased because of your religious background.
  • Cross the line if you have ever bullied someone in your class.
  • Cross the line if you have been bullied by someone in this class.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been teased about your accent or your voice or told that you couldn’t sing.
  • Cross the line if you or anyone in your family has a disability that you cannot see.
  • Cross the line if you’re a male and you’ve ever been told you shouldn’t cry, show your emotions, or be afraid.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever felt alone, unwelcome, or afraid.
  • Cross the line if you have intentionally hurt someone’s feelings.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever felt pressure from your friends or an adult to do something you didn’t want to do and felt sorry for it afterwards.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever stood by and watched while someone was hurt and said or did   nothing because you were too afraid.
  • Cross the line if you have ever started a rumor about a classmate that was untrue.
  • Cross the line if people routinely mispronounce your name.
  • Cross the line if you have ever been teased because of the part of the world or country you or your family comes from.
  • Cross the line if you have ever been the only person of your race/ethnicity in a classroom.

Debriefing Topics:

  • What are some feelings that came up for you during this activity?
  • Why was it so important to be quiet, respectful, and sensitive?
  • Why was it important not to judge others?
  • What was the hardest part for you?
  • What did you learn about yourself?  About others?
  • What did you want to remember about what we’ve just experienced?
  • How does it make you feel when you are getting teased for something that you cannot help?
  • Why do you think other people tease?
  • Talk about the cycle of teasing, name calling, etc. How can you put an end to this cycle?
  • Why is it important to be allies to each other?
  • How can we avoid treating others poorly in our class?

Prompts for Camp

  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been teased or called a bad name or made fun of.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been picked last in games or sports or left out of an activity all together.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been called a mean name or put down just because you’re a girl.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been judged or teased because of the color of your skin.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever been teased because of your religious background.
  • Cross the line if you have ever bullied someone at camp.
  • Cross the line if you have been bullied by someone at camp.
  • Cross the line if you or anyone in your family has a disability that you cannot see.
  • Cross the line if you’re a male and you’ve ever been told you shouldn’t cry, show your emotions, or be afraid.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever felt alone, unwelcome, or afraid.
  • Cross the line if you have intentionally hurt someone’s feelings.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever felt pressure from your friends or an adult to do something you didn’t want to do and felt sorry for it afterwards.
  • Cross the line if you’ve ever stood by and watched while someone was hurt and said or did   nothing because you were too afraid.
  • Cross the line if you have ever started a rumor about someone at camp that was untrue.
  • Cross the line if people routinely mispronounce your name.
  • Cross the line if you have ever been teased because of the part of the world or country you or your family comes from.

Debriefing Topics

  • What are some feelings that came up for you during this activity?
  • Why was it so important to be quiet, respectful, and sensitive?
  • Why was it important not to judge others?
  • What was the hardest part for you?
  • What did you learn about yourself?  About others?
  • What did you want to remember about what we’ve just experienced?
  • How does it make you feel when you are getting teased for something that you cannot help?
  • Why do you think other people tease?
  • Talk about the cycle of teasing, name calling, etc. How can you put an end to this cycle?
  • Why is it important to be allies to each other?
  • How can we avoid treating others poorly at camp?

Customize a list of prompts that fit the needs or issues within your group.

For more resources see: Setting the Conflict Compass

Material in this Online Games Database is copyrighted.  Copyright ©  Training Wheels or by the author who submitted the activity.  Permission needed to copy or reproduce.