Speak Up: A Video Lesson on Bullying
Aaron Cheese, a bullied youth who tells his story in "Speak Up"
PE & Health
Students watch Cartoon Network's "Stop Bullying: Speak Up Special" video, take structured notes, answer questions and participate in related class discussion.
From young people's real stories, learn about the mental and emotional impact of bullying
Identify "do's" and "don'ts" for helping prevent and respond to bullying
Summarize take-away messages from a video documentary on bullying
Bullying, prevention, school climate, video, documentary, impact, solutions, speak up
IMPORTANT NOTE: Introducing the topic of bullying in class can prompt student disclosures of having personally experienced, perpetrated or witnessed bullying. Teachers should ensure the following before beginning the lesson.
Gain administrator support. Have a plan in place in case students express concerns about how the school currently handles bullying incidents.
Prepare to manage self-disclosure. Remind students that for the purpose of confidentiality, it is better not to refer to incidents that either they or other students have experienced. Let students know they can speak to you after class if they have specific concerns about themselves or someone else.
Know how to make student counseling referrals if needed.
Ensure that your school has a clear method for reporting bullying incidents, as you will want to remind students of this procedure.
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Set up the 25-minute "Speak Up" video, available online, to play for the class. The video can be accessed from this page (scroll down for the video “Stop Bullying: Speak Up Special,” which is 25:18 long).
IMPORTANT NOTE: Several objectionable words (bitch, whore, slut, fag) appear briefly on screen at approximately the 11:20 point during the video. Consider whether administrator and/or parent permission will be needed in order to use this otherwise completely age-appropriate video.
Provide a copy of the two-page handout Student Guide to "Speak Up" to each student.
Explain to students that they will take notes on the handout during the video and should be prepared to discuss their notes afterward.
The handout is divided into an "impact" section (Part 1, page 1) and a "solutions" section (Part 2, page 2).
For Part 1, divide students into groups and assign each group to pay particular attention to one or two of the 10 youth listed on the first page of the handout. (The video features more than 10 youth, but only those with significant speaking roles have been included on the list.)
Students should, for their assigned young person or people, make a hatch mark every time s/he says something that suggests a specific type of mental and emotional impact from bullying. (For example, if Ian said two things that indicate he feels helpless, there should be two hatch marks in Ian’s “feeling helpless” column.)
You might also ask students to write down an actual quote from their assigned young person/people.
Toward the second half of the video, several of the young people begin to talk about possible solutions and actions to take against bullying. The video also includes comments from celebrities including NBA All-Star Chris Webber, Pro BMX Champion Matt Wilhelm, Daytona 500 Winner Trevor Bayne and the teen-aged "Dude, What Would Happen?" star Jackson Rogow.
For Part 2 of the handout, assign students to pay particular attention to one or more of the following groups: (1) targets of bullying, (2) witnesses/bystanders to bullying, (3) teachers/school staff and (4) parents. For their assigned group(s), students should take notes on what the young people and celebrities say that the group should and shouldn't do to prevent and respond to bullying.
Once the video has finished playing, student should look back at their notes and summarize the three most important take-away messages and pieces of advice.
Class Discussion Questions
For your assigned youth, in which column (feeling helpless, feeling alone, avoiding school, feeling anxious/nervous, or having low self-esteem) did you place the most hatch marks? Which type of mental and emotional impacts seemed most prominent/noticeable for the person/people?
Across all of the young people, was there any pattern in terms of the impact of bullying, or did the youth seem to experience all types of impact equally?
What quotes did you write down? (If desired, the teacher can write some of the quotes on a whiteboard or flipchart.) How/why were these meaningful for you? What do the quotes tell us about the young people?
How do you think the mental and emotional impacts of bullying will affect these young people over the long term? Can these effects last, even after the bullying stops? What kind of help will the youth need from others?
If these young people attended our school, what would you say to them? What are some ways in which we could help them? (If desired, the teacher can write some of these helping behaviors on a whiteboard or flipchart. For more information, see EducationWorld's Lesson Plan Booster: How Can Students Help a Bullied Peer?)
For Part 2, let's go over each of the four groups (targets of bullying, witnesses/bystanders to bullying, teachers/school staff and parents) and discuss what you wrote down in terms of what the group should or shouldn't do to prevent and respond to bullying. (If desired, the teacher can write one flipchart page or section of whiteboard for each of the four groups.) Do you agree with the advice given by the young people and celebrities? What would you change about, or add to, their advice?
For Part 3, what three messages or pieces of advice stood out most to you during the video? (If desired, the teacher can ask each student to walk up to the whiteboard or flipchart and write one of the items from his/her list that is not already on the class list.)
Bring closure to the activity by reminding students of the procedure for reporting bullying and once again making the offer of talking after class if the lesson has raised any personal concerns.
Consider offering sound advice from Rosalind Wiseman's Web site, such as the following:
Many kids who are bullied feel helpless. But there are things you can do to get some control in the situation, and it starts with developing a strategy and a support system.
The moment it’s happening:
Breathe. Observe who is around. Breathe again.
Ask yourself what the bully is doing that you want stopped and what you want him/her to do instead.
If you can (and this is a big "IF;" students should not be pushed to do this if they feel uncomfortable), find the courage to say those feelings. For example, “Stop pushing me into the lockers; I want to walk down the hallway in peace.” Or, “Stop sending texts to everyone in the grade that no one should talk to me.”
If you can walk away, think about it as walking towards safety, not away from the bully. For example, walk toward a classroom where you can see a teacher you trust. If you are in a park, walk toward a group of adults or a coach.
Don’t retaliate or threaten to retaliate. This often leads to an escalation of the bullying.
If you are being bullied online:
Any time someone is bullied through social networking, a cell phone, or any type of social media, it can be really hard not to want to defend yourself by retaliating or finding out why this person is attacking you. It can be tempting to stay up all night trying to “fix” the situation—but resist this urge, since it's difficult to address online and is better handled by reporting to an ally (see below).
After the bullying has occurred:
Remember that reporting a bully is not snitching. People snitch when all they want to do is get the person in trouble. People report when they have a problem that is too big for them to solve on their own. People who report bullying are doing the right thing. And the reality is adults can’t address the problem if they don’t know about it.
Report the bullying to an ally. An ally is an adult that you trust to help you think through your problems. An ally can be a parent or guardian, a teacher or counselor. Be specific about the bullying behavior, where you are when it occurs, and what you need to feel safe.
If you are scared to go to school, show up for practice, or any other activity, tell your ally or the adult who is in charge. It is not your fault that you are being bullied, and you have the right to be in school and participate in after-school activities, just like everyone else.
What do you do if the bully is a friend?
It’s always important to have strong friendships that you can depend on, but sometimes the bully can be a friend. If that happens, ask yourself the following questions about your friendship.
Are my friends treating me according to what I need in a friendship?
If my friends aren’t treating me according to my standards, why am I in this friendship? Is it worth it?
Extend the Lesson:
Ask students to create persuasive posters on the topic of bullying. Let kids choose whether their poster message focuses on the negative impact of bullying (perhaps including quotes from the youth in "Speak Up") or actions people can take to prevent and respond to bullying (perhaps including comments from youth and celebrities in "Speak Up").
Hang the posters around the classroom or school, next to information about how to report bullying.
Assess students on the following:
Completion of the Student Guide to "Speak Up"
Participation in class discussion
(If applicable) completion of bullying prevention poster
Lesson Plan Source
EducationWorld. See more EducationWorld lessons and articles on bullying.
Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor
PE and Health
NPH.K-12.5 Responsible Behavior
NPH.K-12.6 Respect for Others
NPH-H.5-8.3 Reducing Health Risks
NPH-H.5-8.4 Health Influences
NPH-H.5-8.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health
NPH-H.5-8.6 Setting Goals for Good Health
NPH-H.9-12.3 Reducing Health Risks
NPH-H.9-12.4 Health Influences
NPH-H.9-12.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health
NPH-H.9-12.6 Setting Goals for Good Health
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