What Is My Role?

6, 7, 8

Learners identify 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 Session

The learner will:

  • identify the roles in the bullying cycle.
  • define the phrase social capital and discuss how it relates to building a strong community.
  • Take action to stop unjust treatment of their peers.
  • 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


  1. Anticipatory Set

    Read the following and discuss the questions: 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 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. Allow time for talking about personal observations and feelings about harassing behaviors that make others feel unsafe at school or in other social situations. 

  3. Show this image of the roles surrounding bullying behaviors to discuss the roles they have found themselves in. Why is it bad for the safety and mental health of the whole group when anyone is mistreated? 

  4. Introduce the term social capital. When community members make personal investments 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. Even when tough things happen, this built-up social capital provides support and safety to work through them and know we'll be okay together.

  5. Discuss the pros and cons of things the bystanders can do to help stop the cycle of bullying:

    1. Do nothing (don't encourage or discourage the abusive behavior).
    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).
  6. Discuss what a circle of support would look like and make a plan to stop any unjust treatment of their peers.

    When they use their time and voice to benefit the community and bring about positive change, they are called philanthropists. A philanthropist gives time, talent, or treasure to take action for the common good.

  7. Taking action to make a positive change takes courage. 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. These are acts of philanthropy.

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.