Status of Bullying
In the first lesson of this three-lesson unit, the students define bullying and identify the effects of bullying behavior on the individuals involved and the larger community. The students create a survey or use another method to collect and report on the perceived status of bullying behavior at their school. They survey students, school staff, and families.
The learner will:
- define bullying behavior as repeated negative behavior with a desire to harm someone with less power (size, strength, or other perceived imbalance of power). The aggressor appears to enjoy the interaction, and the victim feels oppressed.
- identify the causes and effects of bullying.
- identify a need in the school through research.
- discuss examples of groups denied their rights in history.
- survey students, school staff, and families about the status of bullying behavior at the school.
- a display copy or student copies of Handout One: Forms of Bullying
- materials (chart paper, graph paper) for conducting and presenting a survey
- bullying behavior: repeated negative behavior with a desire to harm someone with less power (size, strength, or other perceived imbalance of power); The aggressor appears to enjoy the interaction, and the victim feels oppressed.
- bully: a person who habitually acts with the intention of threatening, intimidating, or harming others, particularly people who appear weaker
- discrimination: unfair treatment based on prejudice or preconceived opinion
Students bring their surveys home to question family members about their perceptions of bullying.
Have a student read the following paragraph:
Aaron's classmates called him The Turtle. For the most part it was friendly kidding because Aaron's hands were usually buried deep in his pockets and his head deep inside the hood of his dark green hoodie. He was pretty shy and moved very slowly between classes. In gym, Aaron was usually one of the last to be chosen for team games. When they ran, he was always the last one done. Then one day Mr. Aloffs, the school counselor spoke to the eighth graders about bullying. He said that bullying occurs when someone with more power teases a student repeatedly with the intention of causing harm, and the victim feels oppressed. The counselor said that people who are bullied can react in a number of ways. They might fight back, laugh it off, or ignore it. But some kids suffer silently and go deeper into their shell. The eighth graders looked around and didn't see Aaron anywhere in the crowd. Some of them wondered if they had been guilty of bullying Aaron.
Discuss: No one likes to be called names, no matter how tough they are or how much they laugh it off. While some nicknames can be fun, they can also be hurtful. How can we tell the difference? How might putting an end to bullying or name-calling be a part of promoting kindness, justice, and fairness in our community? How can we help someone, like Aaron, come out of his or her shell?
- Ken Rigby www.kenrigby.net
- Dan Olweus Bullying Prevention https://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/bullying.page
- Emerson, Kevin. Carlos Is Going to Get It. Levine/Scholastic, 2008. ISBN 9780439935258. Novel. 291 pages. Grades 5-9.
- What Is Bullying? stopbullying.gov https://www.stopbullying.gov/bullying/what-is-bullying
- Flake, Sharon. The Skin I'm In.
- Cartoons by Kevin Spear https://kevinspear.com/tag/bullying
- Pacer's National Bullying Prevention https://www.pacer.org/bullying/stories/
- https://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2011/1028/The-way-to-really-stop-school-bullying-student-mentors Tiara and Kelly’s school has declared itself a “bully-free zone.” By mentoring each other, students raise awareness of bullying and engage one another as part of the solution. Strategies include anti-bullying pledges, anti-bullying poster contests, and “bullying boxes” where students can anonymously report incidents.
- Wilhelm, Doug. The Revealers. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2003
Start a discussion about bullying behavior by sharing a video, cartoon, or story about the topic.
Cartoons by Kevin Spear https://kevinspear.com/tag/bullying
Pacer's National Bullying Prevention https://www.pacer.org/bullying/stories/
Discuss students' response to the video, cartoon, or story. Ask students whether they think bullying is a problem at their school.
Guide the students in describing what bullying behavior looks like (the components of bullying vs a mean act). Give the students some defining information about bullying. Bullying behavior involves repeated negative behavior with a desire to harm someone with less power (size, strength, or other perceived imbalance of power). The aggressor appears to enjoy the interaction, and the victim feels oppressed. Discuss why a single unkind act might not be considered bullying.
Display the Forms of Bullying (Handout One). Read through the list together and allow time for discussion of examples or personal observations. (Set the expectation of not using names.)
Ask the students to propose what they believe are some of the effects of bullying behavior onthe individuals involved (aggressor, victim, bystander), the school, and the community.
Share with them that bullying behavior affect show people feel about themselves, one another, and the safety of the community. The victims of bullying behavior have lower attendance, grades, and graduation rates. And in extreme cases, victims react with violence or commit suicide as a direct result of bullying. Bullying behavior affects more than the victim. The bystanders are traumatized as they agonize over how to respond. School climate of communication and safety decrease with tolerance for bullying. The whole community is affected when its youth are violent or traumatized. Youth who bully may have violent tendencies, and aggression does not stop at the school door. People who are involved carry the issues into other areas of their lives.
After the discussion, tell the students that bullying behavior is an issue at most schools, and experts have found patterns that help us understand the issue and how to address it as individuals and as a school community. Tell them that in this unit, they will learn about bullying behavior and decide as a group what they can do to address the issue at school or in the community (where there is a need).
Put students into groups and have them test their "bullying" knowledge by reading the facts and myths on bullying.org https://bullying.org/external/documents/Bullying.org_Bullying_Myths-Facts%20Pamphlet.pdf . Pull the questions from the website for a student printout. Small groups may make a game of this by taking turns reading the statements and answering "fact" or "myth." Then display the web site.
Discuss the facts and myths that confirmed students' thinking or surprised them.
Explain that bullying can be based on discrimination, or treating people unfairly based on groups they belong to or how a person looks, dresses, or acts.
Ask the students to recall occurrences in history where whole groups of people were bullied or victimized by a dominant culture (e.g., Jews in Europe; protesters in African dictatorships). Discuss examples in history of groups who were denied their rights and how people reacted to the unfair situation. Provide students with background information on aggressors in history. These might include Idi Amin, Hitler, Saddam Hussein. What leaders emerged to stand up to the injustice and what did they do to help the victims?
Discuss what they can learn from history about how a community responds to injustice. You may need to review the definition of civil rights (rights belonging to individuals as part of citizenship; equal protection, freedom from discrimination). Discuss the attributes of someone who helps others by standing up to injustice.
Ask students if they think there is a positive sense of community at school. Do they think bullying is an issue at the school and do they know what kinds of bullying are occurring? Tell the students that for this class they are going to go out and collect data to get an accurate picture of the status of bullying.
Encourage the students to come up with ideas for collecting data about the status of bullying at the school and then reporting it clearly. Some ideas follow:
- Assign students responsibilities for creating a survey and collecting data from students, school staff, and families. You may need to give them a review lesson on sampling, creating a survey, and how to collect and record data in a graph or chart.
Define survey and explain to the learners its purpose. Discuss characteristics of an effective survey question using a few examples. Divide the learners into teams of three. Each team will design a survey about bullying in the school and possible solutions to bullying. Each team will target a specific group for their survey: 6th graders, 7th graders, 8th graders, family, administrators, and teachers. Tell students that their survey questions must be appropriate for their target group. As an example, the family survey might ask, “Has your child ever been bullied, either verbally or physically, in middle school?” A 6th grade survey might have a question that asks, “Have you ever been the target of teasing or hitting by one of your classmates or a 7th or 8th grader?” Any of the audiences may respond to the question, "Without using anyone's name, have you ever observed an incident of bullying behavior at our school?"
Tell students that each survey must have at least five questions. The questions should be clear and answerable by short answers. They should include a question that asks for possible solutions to the problem of bullying.
Discuss ways they can get objective and accurate answers without putting people at risk.
- Students have the task of finding out if other students in their school have experienced being bullied, teased, or excluded based on their clothes or looks. Encourage them to ask fellow students what they experienced, how they felt, and how they responded. They record their results in a concise and meaningful format.
- Challenge students to talk to at least three students that they would never ordinarily talk to. They should reach out to unfamiliar clubs or social groups and start a conversation about bullying.
Note: Allow sufficient time between Day Two and Day Three for students to distribute and collect the surveys.
Students present the collected data through graphs and charts and share the summarized results with the class.
Facilitate a discussion. Ask:
- Is there bullying behavior in your school? What is the evidence? Given the evidence cited, what might have been the catalyst?
- Are people responding effectively to bullying behavior?
- What could your class do to make the situation better?
Exit card: In the last few minutes of class, have students write an exit card explaining why bullying behavior violates our civil or human rights.
Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
Benchmark MS.5 Discuss examples of groups denied their rights in history.
Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
Benchmark MS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.