A lesson plan based on "My fight for respect" by Carlos Overstreet from the May-June 2002 issue of L.A. Youth, where the writer describes his struggle with intimidators at school and how he resolved his problems.

By Sue Doyle, Associate Editor

Grades: 6-12
Subjects: Language arts, social studies, and psychology

Overview of lesson plan: In this lesson, students discuss cliques, intimidators, support systems and how it feels to be victimized.

Suggested time allowance: 45 min. – 1 hr.

Students will:
1. Define school cliques
2. Define intimidation
3. Show how intimidation makes them feel through collages and letters
4. Evaluate support systems
5. Discuss ways to deal with hurtful people

Resources and materials:
— pens, paper
— copies of L.A. Youth article "My fight for respect" (one per student)
— magazines
— glue, scissors
— construction paper
— notebook paper
— blackboard

1. WARM-UP: On the board write: What is a clique? Ask students to define the word clique. Many cliques have nicknames, like jocks or skaters. Have students list the clique names in columns and write characteristics of people in those cliques underneath it. Ask students to share their answers with the class and write down some responses on the board.

Does each clique have a ringleader? Ask students how that happens. Are people in one clique hurtful to people in other cliques? What happens as a result of that? What does intimidation mean? Write down the students’ responses on the blackboard.

Complete the warm-up by asking students to recall a time when they were picked on. What was said? Who said it? How did your students feel? How did your students handle it? Did the students tell anyone? Have students write their personal stories down on paper in a few paragraphs. When done, they can share their stories by reading aloud, if they wish.

2. As a class, read and discuss the L.A. Youth article "My fight for respect." Focus on the following questions:
    a.      Carlos seems like a normal kid, but people teased him anyway. What are reasons Carlos gives that made him a target?
        — His father was a counselor at the school.
        — He was a good student.
        — He didn’t sag his pants or shave his head.
        — He didn’t like to smoke pot, tag or vandalize
        — He was too patriotic.
    b.     What are some names that Carlos is called?
        — sucker from Mars
        — goody-two shoes
        — fairy
        — gay and gaylord
    c.     When he lost weight, how was Julian treated?
        — His sister thought he looked good.
        — Salespeople gave him more attention.
        — People started conversations with him.
        — He has a social life.
        — He plays pool with friends.
    d.     Besides name calling, what else happened to Carlos at school?
        — People blamed him for things his father did.
        — He was socked in the arm and laughed at.
        — He was punched in the stomach.
        — People stole things from his backpack.
    e.     What words does Carlos use to describe the people who did these things to him?
        — evil    — bullies    — thugs    — punks    — jerks
    f.     How did Carlos feel about himself after years of intimidation on campus?
        — He got tired of being the good kid.
        — He wished he stood up for himself.
        — He felt bad.
        — He hit a breaking point and feared he’d explode.
    g.     How did Carlos overcome the intimidators on campus?
        — He eventually told his parents.
        — He wrote down his feelings on his computer.
        — He graduated and went to a smaller school.
        — He took self-defense classes and feels bolder.

3. After reading the story, ask students whom they turn to when there are problems? Ask students how they would solve the problem of intimidators? Would they solve it the way Carlos did? Or do they have different ideas? Did Carlos have many friends to turn to?

4. Ask students to pull out their personal stories about being teased. Ask students to write letters to the people who intimidate them. Have students write down specific examples describing how they felt at the time and how they feel now. The letters won’t be mailed, but offers students a way confront an intimidator and get things off their chests. Don’t have students sign the letters.

Some students may have intimidated others. Ask them to write letters of apology to those they treated badly.

Or have students create collages using pictures from magazines to show how they feel when people intimidate them. Give them visual hints to look for, like a roaring Godzilla, boat with a broken oar or wilting flowers.

5. WRAP-UP: Collect the letters collages and then mix up the pile. Read some of the letters aloud. Make sure the letters remain anonymous. Show the class the collages and point to specific pictures in them. Ask students what they think the pictures mean.

Evaluation and assessment:
Students will be evaluated based upon their class participation and work.