Break Bullying: Not in the Break Room, Not on the Playground | Not in Our Town

Break Bullying: Not in the Break Room, Not on the Playground

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

The Public Service Announcement (PSA), “Break Bullying,” depicts adults in an office environment re-enacting the director’s personal bullying experience from middle school. His point: If we would not stand for this in the office, why do we stand for it happening to kids in schools? 

It is a call to action for everyone to take bullying seriously. Students and teachers alike are reporting visceral responses to the PSA. You will hear a few bleeps—but those bleeps, unedited, are what kids experience daily in their schools.

Produced by MAKE, a professional ad agency in Minneapolis, MN. Directed by Mike Nelson and donated to Not In Our Town.


1. Prior to viewing the video, have the students reflect on bullying incidents they have experienced. Teach them the meanings of the terms “perpetrator”, “victim”, “bystander” and “upstander”. An upstander is a person who speaks up and stands up for him or herself and others. Select from the preview questions below, depending on how much discussion of bullying has previously taken place with the students.

Write this quote on the board:

“It’s not just, oh, you get bullied and the next year it gradually tapers off and you’re a normal person. It sticks with you your entire life. I still get these occasional feelings, like I’m not good enough. I never felt anything like that before the bullying in ninth grade.”
—Mike Nelson, PSA director

Ask students to do a quick-write

  • What is the impact of bullying on a person?
  • What are your reactions to this quote?

Have partners discuss the following questions:

  • How big an issue is bullying at your school? How have you been impacted by bullying?
  • Have you witnessed an act of bullying in the last few months? Take a moment to describe the event. (No names are necessary.)
    1. If so, what was your role in the incident? (see above terms)
    2. If you took action to stop the act of bullying, what made you choose to do so?
    3. What were the consequences of your actions? (What happened because of what you did?)
    4. If you chose not to do anything to stop the bullying, What made you choose not to act? Why, what were you most afraid of?
  • How would you rate teachers and administrators, on the whole, in how well they address the bullying issue at your school?
  • What do you like about the way adults in your school handle bullying?
  • What don’t you like about the way adults in your school handle bullying?
  • What do you think is the best way to convince teachers that bullying is a serious issue? What would really move them to action?

2. After viewing the film, engage in all or some of the following questions:

  • What part of this PSA strikes you the most?
  • Where do you see the above roles played out in this video?
  • Why do you suppose none of the other workers stepped in to help Bob? What are some potential reasons for their inaction? Do you think those reasons are justified?
  • If the video is based on the experience of a middle school student, why didn’t the filmmaker just base the reenactment in a middle school playground?
  • Who is the intended audience for this PSA?
  • What mistake does the filmmaker think adults make when it comes to kids and bullying?
  • Do you think this PSA successfully gets its point across?

Follow-Up/Extension Ideas:

In order to reinforce learning from the video, students can also design their own advertisements or public service announcements. This activity could be used as an in-school project or a homework assignment.

Have the students watch the Break Bullying PSA again. Explain to students that they will use the same type of structure for their own PSAs. Ask students to look for the following:

  • How do the actors portray the message?
  • What are the persuasive techniques used in the video?
  • How did the PSA use text on the screen?

1. Create Work Teams

Divide students into small groups of 3-4. Have them brainstorm a list of possible topics related to bullying and intolerance.

2. Research (can be done as homework)

Have students search a variety of media sources including newspapers, magazines, television, and the Internet for information about bullying. Students can research the topic using the Internet (e.g.,,, and other sources such as newspapers, magazines, books and nonprofit organizations. Find statistics. Remind students that information online is not always reliable, so make sure to confirm any facts you find in at least 2 to 3 resources.

Make sure the students have a good base of research and a strong understanding of the topic before moving on.

3. Analyze. Have students think about these questions:

  • What did you find in your research that surprised you?
  • How is this information different from your beliefs?
  • How are the facts different from what you expected?
  • What do you think causes bullying and intolerance?
  • What are the impacts of bullying and intolerance?
  • Do you have facts to back up this explanation?

4. Teamwork: Think about solutions

In teams, imagine what could be done to solve the problem of bullying. Think about these questions:

  • What would you do if you were in charge of a national campaign to end bullying and intolerance?
  • What are some other solutions to the problem?
  • Can you imagine what would happen if people started to act differently to solve the problem of bullying, stereotyping and intolerance?

5. Select one of the these activities:

A. Make a Poster Advertisement 
What type of words should flash across the screen to convey your message or goal?

  • Think of a catchy phrase or slogan.
  • How do you convince people to change their attitudes or behaviors as result of your message?
  • What are your facts? How will you share these facts dramatically?

Have students make individual or team posters with the message. Post them around the school. NIOS displays original student art on the website. Send posters in jpeg form to with parental releases attached.

B. Produce a PSA
PSAs are usually about 30 seconds long or less. Have students use these questions as a guide:

  • What type of words should flash across the screen to convey your message or goal?
  • Think of a catchy phrase or slogan.
  • How could you discuss the reasons in the video?
  • How do you convince people to listen to your message?
  • What are your facts? How will you share these facts dramatically?

Finalize the content and make a storyboard and script for the PSA
Students need to determine the content of their PSA. They can make notes on the PSA Script Outline sheet, available here.
Use the information in the PSA Script Outline to make a storyboardand shot list for the video. A storyboard is like a comic book with panels of sketches that show the plans for the scenes and actions. The storyboard can be turned into a script that includes dialogue and description of the scenes, in addition to a shot list that identifies the camera angle for each shot in the film.

Make a plan for filming the video
For some background information, watch Shotlists and Storyboards on the Nortel LearniT: Video Production website.

Additional things to do before filming include:
1.      Arrange to use a digital video camera.

2.      If more than one person is needed for the video, ask friends to play parts. 

3.      Collect any props you will need.

Rehearse and film the PSA
Arrange time to rehearse before filming. Once the video is filmed, you can help students edit the PSA using Windows Movie Maker or another editing program. Save the video and encourage the students to share it with friends and family.

Evaluate the work
Have students refer back to the goals of their PSA and determine whether it has been accomplished.

Share the PSA
NIOS posts student productions. Send links of the videos (YouTube, TeacherTube, etc.) to Not In Our School (NIOS) To have the films published at the NIOS website, have students get parental releases for everyone involved in the film production.

This lesson was adapted from the International Reading Association readwritethink website.


Created by: Joe Lobozzo and Becki Cohn-Vargas, Ed.D.


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