Try It Out: Practice Having the Courage to Be an Upstander | Not in Our Town

Try It Out: Practice Having the Courage to Be an Upstander


Have you ever been in a situation where you wish you had spoken up to defend yourself? Have you ever stood by when someone else was being teased or bullied and wished you had said something?

It happens to all of us, and though we should not feel bad or guilty about it, we can do things differently if we put our mind to it. The same is true for children. We tell students to speak up for themselves and to stop being bystanders when it comes to bullying, but we need to show them how and let them try it out.

Try It Out is the new Not In Our School film for elementary students. In this film, middle school students help their elementary peers learn three ways to be an upstander. While being an upstander is never easy, roleplaying gives children a chance to practice and explore how it is done.

1. Intervene. We always tell children to intervene safely, meaning not to be aggressive, just firm when intervening and not to take unnecessary risks.

2. Get help from a trusted adult. If a bullied child is being injured and it is not safe to intervene or if intervening does not work, students can go to an adult. The California Health Standards specifically talk about helping students learn to identify trusted adults in the family, community, and at school where they can go for help. Adults need to tell students that they will “have their backs” and need to demonstrate that trustworthiness to students.

3. Befriend the bullied student. Another powerful way to be an upstander is to support a child who has been bullied. In advance, discuss with children the importance of reaching out to make that child feel better. Even after a bullying experience, befriending the student will help that child heal and feel a sense of belonging instead of rejection.

Being an upstander takes courage. However, if we teach children how, the chances are that they will be much more able to speak up and gain an important skill that will help them navigate the complexities of the world and will last a lifetime.

This new Not In Our School film is available via TeacherTube and has an accompanying Lesson Plan. You can also start an anti-bullying campaign on your campus with the Not In Our School Quick Start Guide.


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