Violence: Bullying

9, 10, 11, 12

Students will explore the causes and effects of bullying and brainstorm ways to address the problem.

PrintOne or Two Class Periods (dependent on how the student interviews/surveys)

The learner will:

  • define service
  • explore the definition and effects of bullying
  • explore the prejudices that might lead to bullying
  • brainstorm ideas for bullying prevention

Magazine pictures of young people in different styles of clothing including: religious/ethnic dress, different teen styles, regional differences, and varying degrees of “feminine” and “masculine” clothes on both genders. You’ll need enough for half the class.


service: work done to help another person or organization

bully: a person who habitually acts with the intention of threatening, intimidating, or harming others, particularly people who appear weaker

discrimination: action or treatment based on prejudice or a preconceived opinion

prejudice: a judgment formed about a person or group without enough knowledge

elicit: to draw forth, bring out

Ask students to reflect on the session with the following questions: Were you surprised when you compared your judgments about the magazine pictures with others’ judgments? Why or why not?  How might you do a survey differently next time?  What do you think others should know about bullying? How might the concepts of peace and building social capital be applied to create a bully-free school?


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Pair up students. Randomly give them one of the magazine pictures of a young person in distinctive clothes. Ask each student, without talking to his or her partner, to refer to the picture as a basis for answering these questions: What do you think this person is like? Do you think you’d like to be friends with him/her? Why or why not? Have students share their answers with their partners.

  2. Begin with a discussion of what bullying means. Elicit opinions and examples from the class. Distinguish between bullying and other types ofnegative behavior. Bullying is intentional, one-sided, and designed to make the victim feel bad. Generally, bullying is ongoing, and it targets someone who appears “different” and/or powerless.

  3. Explain that bullying is often based on prejudice and discrimination, or treating people unfairly based them belonging to a certain group, rather than based on who they are. Check for student understanding of the words prejudice and discrimination and clarify with the definitions in the Vocabulary section of this lesson if needed.

  4. Discuss the following questions related to the pictures as a whole group..

    • Did you and your partner draw the same conclusions about the people in the pictures?
    • What do you think you can – and can’t – determine about people based on their look?
    • What is one problem about pre-judging people based on appearance?
    • What kind of prejudices do you think you and your peers make about other students in the school?
    • How could these prejudices lead to bullying?
  5. Explain to students that they are going to learn more about the other students in their school and help to make it a bully-free zone.

  6. Ask the students to brainstorm a few questions they could put on a written survey or use as an interview with other students to find out whether they have been bullied, teased, or excluded based on appearance. They should ask what they experienced, how it felt, and how they responded. They keep written records of the verbal answers they gather.

  7. Challenge the students to survey to at least three students that they would not ordinarily talk to. Have them reach out to unfamiliar clubs or social groups. They could also interview members of their own class who they don't know well.

  8. Have the class compile the data on graphs or charts. Discuss results with the class. Analyze the data and facilitate a discussion. Ask: Is there bullying inthe school? What patterns do you observe about who gets bullied? Why do you think they are a victim of bullying? Are people responding effectively to stop or prevent bullying? What could we do to make the situation better?

  9. As a group, brainstorm a list of ideas that might help to prevent these behaviors. It could be as simple as sitting with different students in the lunchroom on different days, or supporting a club or team that the student wouldn’t ordinarily support. Or students might research effective responses to bullying, and create a fact-sheet to post around the school.

  10. Vote to choose a few ideas, and then present the plans to the principal and school counselor.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define the phrase <i>community/social capital</i> and discuss how it relates to all communities and the problem of factions.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.13 Define and offer examples of community/social capital.