Rights and Responsibilities

6, 7, 8

This lesson examines the connections between the five basic guaranteed rights in the Bill of Rights and their corresponding responsibilities. Participants explore the natual consequences of fulfilling, or not fulfilling, responsibilities connected to their rights.

PrintOne 55-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • compare rights and responsibilities and the effects of noncompliance.
  • name groups in the independent sector that hold the government accountable to its citizens.
  • printed copies of the Responsibility for Rights handout
  • a copy of the banner in the previous lesson, "Each person's rights reach only to the boundaries of someone else's rights."

We the People. Calabasas, CA: Center for Civic Education, 1988.


  1. Anticipatory Set: 

    Discuss: Are the Constitution and government (structure) enough to protect our rights and welfare? Allow learners to share and support their ideas.

  2. Remind learners that the Framers used the Constitution to thoughtfully plan a government structure with limited powers. They also added the Bill of Rights to prevent the government from infringing on our rights. Lead learners to the conclusion that we must elect effective leaders and be good citizens who fulfill responsibilities in order to ensure that our rights are protected.

  3. Define responsibility as a duty or obligation to do something or not do something. Sources of responsibility may come from a job, a promise, laws, citizenship, or moral principles.

  4. Reread the banner from Lesson Two: The "Right Ideas. Discuss some responsibilities they have (regarding the five basic rights) to treat others and be treated in a way that protects that right. 

  5. Working as a whole group or in small groups, participants complete the handout Responsibility for Rights, examining the consequences of taking responsibility (or not taking responsibility) for our shared rights. 

  6. As a whole group, use the Internet to identify at least one organization in the independent sector (not government or private business) that acts to make sure each of the guaranteed rights is protected and the government is accountable to its citizens (B'Nai Brith, NAACP, Amnesty International, League of Women Voters, poll watchers, etc.)

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.14 Describe how citizens can use organizations in the civil society sector to hold people in power accountable for their actions on behalf of the public.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.
    3. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Analyze information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to the common good.