What Is My Role?

6, 7, 8

Students learn about the different roles people take in the cycle of bullying. They share their observations about bullying situations and discuss why taking action to address bullying behavior is good for the community.

PrintOne 45-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • identify the roles in the bullying cycle.
  • describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
  • define the phrase social capital and discuss how it relates to building a strong community.
  • define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
  • describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.

Internet access or a printout of The Cycle of Bullying https://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/bullying_effects.page

Teacher Preparation 

 Read this article from Edutopia about students as the experts on creating a respectful environment.

  • bullying: 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
  • philanthropist: someone who gives time, talent, or treasure and takes action for the common good
  • social capital: spending time on social interactions builds trust; banked good will that allows one to call on others in times of need

Kansas Safe Schools Resource Center "Bullying Prevention" https://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/bullying_effects.page

Elias, Maurice. Edutopia: Bullying Prevention: Students Share Do's and Don'ts


  1. Anticipatory Set

    Read the following scenario to the students and discuss their reactions: Noah sees the same student tormenting another student every day in school. Other students watch and nobody tries to stop it or tells a teacher about it. Should Noah speak up and risk being harassed or labeled as a “tattletale,” or should he ignore it and mind his own business? What’s best for the victim? What’s best for Noah? What is best for the school community?

  2. Have students share their personal observations and feelings about bullying behavior. Use some of the following questions to guide the discussion. "Why do bullies pick on a certain person repeatedly?" "How does the victim act?" "How do people who observe bullying react?" Ask, "Does bullying behavior ever happen in front of teachers/adults?" "Does bullying behavior ever happen when no one is watching?"

  3. Show this image of the roles surrounding the bully to help students identify what role/s they have found themselves in.

  4. Use the "think, pair, share" model to discuss the roles students have taken or observed.

  5. Tell the students that bullying behavior is a problem for all of us, not just the individual. When we all see the importance of respect for others, the community will not tolerate the injustice.

  6. Introduce the term social capital. Tell students that when community members make a personal investment in positive social interactions (similar to investing money to build up a bank account), they build trust and a commitment to the well-being of the community. This built-up social capital helps us work together more effectively to pursue shared objectives or to counteract a negative experience, such as bullying.

  7. Ask the student to describe the characteristics of someone who helps others. Talk about what motivates someone to take action to stop bullies. Ask the students what a circle of support would look like and create a visual to illustrate it.

  8. List some things the bystanders can do to help stop the cycle of bullying. 1. Do nothing (don't encourage the bully)

  9. 2. Do something kind to let the victim know you support him or her 3. Stop the action or tell a teacher or responsible adult 4. Take action to change the culture of the school to prevent further bullying (build social capital)

  10. Ask the students to discuss the pros and cons of each step and examples of actions they can take.

  11. Remind the students that they used their time and talents to benefit the community when they conducted a survey to identify the issue of bullying in their school community. When they act to bring about positive change, students are called philanthropists. A philanthropist gives time, talent, or treasure (money or other valued goods) or takes action for the common good.

  12. Tell the students that taking action is risky. Give examples of individuals who took action in history at personal risk: Pocahontas had to take a stand with her father and people to save Captain John Smith and the Jamestown settlement. In American history, Abigail Adams spoke out for women’s rights at the time of the American Revolution. Harriet Tubman led slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Each of these women took risks to benefit others because they felt a responsibility to the common good. Explain that these are acts of philanthropy.

  13. Ask whether the benefits are worth the risks. What if we didn't take action? Discuss why we all have a responsibility to act philanthropically to promote a civil society. Lead the students to recognize why it is good for all (the whole school community) for students to take action to address bullying behavior at school.

  14. In the third lesson, students make a plan to take action against bullying at school or in the community, based on where the surveys showed there was a need and the discussions above.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define the phrase <i>community/social capital</i> and discuss how it relates to all communities.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.