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.
Three 45-Minute Class Periods, plus time to collect survey data and report the results
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.
- 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
- a display copy or student copies of Handout One: Forms of Bullying
- materials (chart paper, graph paper) for conducting and presenting a survey
- Handout 1
- Forms of Bullying
Start a discussion about bullying behavior by sharing a video, cartoon, or story about the topic.
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 on the individuals involved (aggressor, victim, bystander), the school, and the community.
- Share with them that bullying behavior affects how 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 http://www.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.
Encourage the students to take as much responsibility as possible for the format and questions in the survey. Since they are approaching their peers and community members, they will be more invested if they design the survey questions and the formula for the sampling. Challenge them to find a creative way to present the data collected to the school community.
Students bring their surveys home to question family members about their perceptions of bullying.
Language Arts: Read a novel with the theme of bullying:
Reflection: (click to view)
Forms of Bullying
1. Unkind remarks and name-calling
2. Exclusion from social situations or work groups
3. Physical contact: Hitting, kicking, or shoving
4. Rumors and lies
5. Damage to or theft of personal property
6. Threats or forcing the victim to do something he or she doesn't want to do
7. Racial, religious, or homophobic bullying
8. Sexual bullying
9. Cyber bullying (texting or Internet)
Source: Olweus Bullying Prevention http://olweus.org/public/bullying.page