BULLYING LESSON PLAN
Administrators must deal with contentious issues in the schools on a daily basis. They generally establish policies and procedures based on the requirements of the School Act and comply with other legal obligations and societal standards to regulate the school environment.
A major problem that has received their attention in the last ten years is the issue of bullying. Most instances of bullying occur under the radar screen of school authorities. By its nature, bullying occurs when teachers and supervisors aren’t looking—on the way to and from school, in the hallways when there is a crowd, on the school grounds or after school hours. Nevertheless, it is a school problem.
The children involved in bullying situations are often students at the same school, and school provides the opportunity for it to occur. Students are vulnerable at school, because they are outside the protective environments of their homes and there are no adults who traditionally look after their best interests. Often, policies to discourage bullying are made without consulting the people it affects most – the students themselves.
In this lesson, students are given the opportunity to examine the problem and develop solutions that they think would be most effective in stopping it. They will come up with a description of what they think bullying is, the kind of students who become bullies and the kind who become victims. They will examine the law – both its protections and its limitations. They will study some theories and practices already in place and they will come up with youth-oriented prescriptions to resolve the problem. Those ideas will be vetted before a youth panel, which will consider the merits and weaknesses of each proposal. From the resolutions presented, the panel will come up with a comprehensive and workable plan for dealing with the issue of bullying in their school.
To involve students in resolving issues related to bullying.
1. Divide class into five groups.
2. Review the article provided with students.
3. Present the two areas of law relevant to bullying and schools in the Bullying Backgrounder.
4. Provide each group with a group assignment and guidelines.
Group Assignment and Guidelines
Divide the workload among the members of the group.
- Come up with a definition of bullying – What constitutes bullying? Describe a bully and list the characteristics of students who become victims. What is the role of the on-looker? See www.bullybeware.com for information.
- Do schools have a legal duty to protect students from bullying? Identify who you feel should play a role in putting an end to bullying.
- As a group, develop a plan for dealing with bullying that is responsive to student needs. The plan must address each of the following considerations.
- How would it get students onside?
- How would it educate students?
- How would it be enforced?
- How would it protect victims?
- How would it rehabilitate offenders?
- How would it promote a safer school environment?
- Have a spokesperson from the group present your ideas to the entire class and then discuss the positive and negative aspects of each plan.
- As a class, vote on your preferred plan or create a joint plan using your favourite strategies. Decide what they think would be the most effective strategy for combating the problem and discuss how it would be implemented in your school.
- Ask your counsellor, teacher or principal to provide feedback on the plan.
- What school policies are in place and how effective are they? Find and review your school’s polices.
- Devise a plan to present the proposal to the school administration.
- Have students design posters or a website that would promote implementation of their policy in their school.
Bullying Backgrounder for teachers (includes detailed information about bullying and the legal context for students and the Bullying Article
Access to Internet, video and print resources
Copies of policies and descriptions of current anti-bullying programs in your school.
You can find out more by going to the Access to Justice Network at www.acjnet.org. If you search for "Youth Justice" and follow the links, you will find many articles on bullying, including research findings, statistics and descriptions of the various anti-bullying programs in place throughout Canada and particularly in British Columbia.
The B.C. Ministry of Education has just announced that it will be acting on recommendations from a special task force that has studied the issue of bullying. You can find information about their plans at http://www.safeschools.gov.bc.ca/
The federal government has also been responding to bullying. The Spring 2003 issue of "Building Safer Communities" published by the National Crime Prevention Centre describes a number of concerns related to bullying and recommends a variety of strategies for dealing with it along with a list of print and video resources. You can access this publication by visiting their website at http://www.prevention.gc.ca/en/library/publications/prevention/issue07/index.html
A very helpful B.C. resource developed by a teacher and school principal is the Bully B’ware web site (www.bullybeware.com). There, you can find a list of resources for children, teachers and parents. Also available is a video entitled "Bully Beware: Take Action Against Bullying," which is appropriate for Grades 1 to 10.
Suggestions for Primary and Intermediate Students
Most children identify with the characters in stories and are more willing to say what they think and feel if they can voice it through the character in a story. Children need the opportunity to talk about the problem, especially when the focus is not on them either as the bully or the victim. All students need to understand that certain behaviours are not acceptable and that there will be consequences, when they carelessly or deliberately harm another person. Students need to be assured that when they have a problem, they can discuss it with a teacher and the teacher will respond appropriately
Some of the websites listed above include stories from children who have been bullied. They could be used to stimulate classroom discussion. The websites also offer tips and ideas for how teachers should respond to particular bullying-related incidents.
It is important to help even young children realize that they can have some control over a situation, that there are some pro-active things they can do to avoid interactions with bullies, or that if they report it, something will actually be done to counteract the problem. Again, consult the recommended resources for assistance in knowing how to handle bullying at school.