Activity Guide: Bullying Role Play and Practicing Intervention | Not in Our Town

Activity Guide: Bullying Role Play and Practicing Intervention

Grade Level: 
Middle School (6-8)
High School (9-12)

In this video, students use role-playing scenarios to depict experiences with prejudice or name-calling and practice effective interventions to combat or stop the bullying or harassment. This process can be an effective tool to use with students in your own classroom and school. Please use the guidelines below and review the “Note of Caution” to ensure a positive and productive experience.

This lesson is part of the Not In Our School Video Action Kit, a comprehensive toolkit featuring films, lessons, and resources designed to motivate students to speak out against bullying, and create new ways to make their schools safe for everyone.


Age-level:                   middle and high school students

Note: This entire process could take place over 1-3 class periods or student-group meetings.
Part I: Planning
1.     Explain to the students that the goal of the activity is to help develop and practice effective ways to intervene in the face of harassment, name-calling or bullying. Having students view the video “Students Teach Students to Stand Up to Bullying” can be an effective starting point for this activity. 
2.     Engage students in a process to identify their own experiences with name-calling or bullying. One effective method is to ask students to write down an experience that they have had or witnessed and submit these privately to the teacher or group leader. These scenarios can then be reviewed, synthesized and re-written into a manageable number of realistic scenarios that draw upon the most common themes or experiences. This type of preparation can also ensure that a range of examples are represented and that each is written in a way that lends itself to presentation format.
3.     Review the “Note of Caution” to inform the directions given to students when preparing their role play presentations.
Part II: Practice
1.     Divide students into small groups of no more than 4-5. Assign each group one scenario to review and discuss. 
2.     Direct students as a group to:
a.     Identify the problem: what is being said or done that is hurtful or problematic.
b.     Identify who is involved: the target, the perpetrator, bystander or “upstander” (the person who will intervene).
c.     Ask students to think about the consequences to all the people in the scenario if no one intervenes or interrupts what has occurred. It is important for students to consider the negative impact on all involved – the target, the perpetrator and those who may observe the situation.
d.     Each group should discuss and decide on verbal and/or behavioral choices that people in the scenario could make that would be effective in interrupting or stopping the name-calling and bullying. Remind students that the person who is targeted could respond and/or the “bystander” may decide to help or intervene. (If your school has an anti-bullying program in place, this is good opportunity to reinforce that model with the students. Remind students that some responses are more effective than others depending on the specific situation.)
e.     Once a response has been developed, direct students to decide on roles for their members and to develop a short presentation of their situation and their proposed response.
f.      Allow students to practice their presentations in their small groups. Try to review each scenario before presented and redirect as needed to ensure that the interventions are appropriate and constructive.
Part III: Presentation
1.     Invite each group to present their scenario.
2.     Be sure each group is applauded and thanked for their efforts after each presentation.
3.     After all groups have presented, conclude the activity using some or all of the discussion questions below.
Discussion Questions:
1.     Describe the different types of interventions we saw presented? What forms of intervention did you feel were particularly effective?
2.     Did you have any ideas for other actions that might have taken place in addition to what was presented? Be specific.
3.     Do you think practicing these role play scenarios will be helpful to you if faced with a similar situation in the future? Why or why not?
Note of Caution: The use of role plays in exploring experiences with prejudice and discrimination can be effective.  However it is not without its potential pitfalls, especially with younger students. Please keep these cautions in mind:
1.     Direct students to take the role play process seriously. While it can be fun to act out scenarios, the goal is to think carefully about the harm inflicted in these situations and to develop realistic and practical ways to confront them. Remember the scenarios are based on real experiences where people were hurt by others. Reinforce the need for empathy for how the people in the scenario might feel about what is happening.
2.     Caution students not to stereotype others’ in their presentations – be it the language used, accents, physical manner, etc. Again, they should aim to be as realistic and authentic in their presentations as possible.
3.     Remind students that the targets of the name-calling are not without voice or options for response. Caution against showing the “victims” as unable to take any control of the situation.


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 As a former caseworker and youth advocate in Baltimore,Md I decided once locating to the U S Virgin Islands that I'd use my previous social work training and performing arts talent to steer students into finding healthy ways of conflict resolution.My mission as a Para-Educator & Recess Arts Club Organizer is now to train groups of students to use their words and bodies as instruments of Unity and Peace to improve our school's atmosphere. Slowly but surely,using colorful handmade Unity Tapestries,Arts and Activities Photo Walls ,Role-Playing and Group Activities such as Block-building and Jumbo Puzzle Arranging,we are having great success with the Kindergarten thru 3nd graders.At Lockhart Elementary School we are The Artists In Action Peace Rangers,trying to eliminate violence and maintain Unity .

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