A lesson plan based on the article “Fighting my impulse to be a bully” in the May-June 2001 issue of L.A. Youth, in which Hamilton High student Daniel Clarke described how he used to be a bully, but his mom and a mentor helped him learn to control his temper.

By Libby Hartigan, Managing Editor

Grades: 6-12
Subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies, Psychology

Overview of lesson plan: In this lesson, students assess the role of bullying in their lives and discuss solutions.

Suggested time allowance: 45 minutes – 1 hour

Students will:
1. Define bullying.
2. Assess the place of bullying in their lives
3. Evaluate how adults can help kids deal with bullying.
4. Explore how families and schools can address bullying.

Resources and materials:
–copies of LA Youth article “Fighting my impulse to be a bully” ” [please link to bully article] (one per student)
–classroom blackboard

1. WARM-UP: On the board, write: “Bullying is…”
On a sheet of paper, ask students to write their own list of things that constitute bullying. Ask students to look over their lists and suggest definitions for bullying. On the classroom blackboard, write down their defintions. The list might include the following
       • name calling
       • teasing
       • pushing or pulling
       • hitting or attacking
       • taking bags and other possessions and throwing them around
       • spreading rumors
       • ignoring and leaving someone out
       • forcing someone to hand over money, lunch or possessions
       • attacking because of religion or color
       • forcing someone to do something he or she don’t want to do

Discuss the list. You may want to ask students some of the following questions:
    a. When girls engage in bullying, which of these things are they most likely to do? Which are boys most likely to do? Why do you think that is?

    b. Sometimes bullying can be subtle. Why would it be considered bullying to ignore someone and leave him or her out of things?

    c. Is bullying more likely to occur in elementary school, junior high or high school? (Studies suggest that bullying starts in elementary school, peaks in junior high and tapers off in high school.)

    d. All these ways of bullying are different, yet they have the same effect. What is that effect? (They give the bully power and control over others. They make the person who is being bullied feel bad-which may include feeling afraid, powerless, sad, ashamed, angry, hurt and confused. Some kids ditch to avoid bullying.)

2. As a class, read and discuss the LA Youth article “Class bully,” focusing on the following questions:
    a. When Daniel was a bully, what did he do to other kids?

    b. Some important things happened in Daniel’s life that made him stop bullying. What were they?
       • His mom found him a mentor
       • His mentor listened to him.
       • His mentor encouraged him to find ways to control his anger.
       • He got in trouble at school for being a bully.

    c. After he started making some changes, what are some of the positive things that happened?
       • He made more friends.
       • He was on the honor roll.
       • He stopped getting in trouble.
       • His mom and his mentor were proud of him.
       • He reached out to help younger kids.

    d. If Daniel had not made some changes, what do you think might have happened to him?

    e. Based on this article, do you think bullies are bad kids? Are bullies different from other kids?

3. Daniel made changes for several reasons-partly because he got support, and partly because he didn’t like the negative consequences of his behavior. What kinds of solutions does that suggest for bullying in our society?

Divide the class into small groups. Tell the class that each group has to develop suggestions for how families and schools should deal with bullies. As a class, discuss these suggestions, focusing on the following questions:
    a. What kinds of support would really help a teen?

    b. What kinds of consequences would be meaningful?

    c. How would a family or school benefit from implementing these suggestions?

4. A recent study showed that one-third of U.S. students have either been a bully or gotten bullied. In class or as homework, ask students to write a personal reflection on how bullying has affected them. Remind students that the definition of bullying is broad and can include lots of different kinds of mean behaviors. Even if students have never been directly involved in bullying, they may have been seen it going on around them.

Evaluation and assessment:
Students will be evaluated based on written work, participation in class and small group discussions.

Extension activity:
Prepare a presention to a school administrator to offer a concrete plan on how the school can deal with bullying.