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The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander

by nbluedorn

WARNING: This lesson plan uses videos which contain violence and adult language. Teachers will want to preview these before choosing to show them to their students. The critical thinking tools in this lesson plan will help students recognize bullying and know how to deal with this destructive behavior. 

1. A BULLY is anyone who inflicts physical or psychological pain on a less powerful person they feel contempt for, and threatens further pain if the bullied person tries to defend himself.

Grandma on a Bus

DISCUSSION: Who in this video is bullying? Why do the kids on this bus have power over the older lady? What do you think the kids feel towards her? Are they just teasing her? What benefit are these kids getting from bullying this older lady? What do these kids do when she tries to defend herself? 

2. A BULLIED PERSON is anyone who feels powerless to defend himself, or get justice for the pain a bully has inflicted on him.

Girl in Belgium

DISCUSSION: Why does the autistic girl sitting on the curb not walk away or call for help? What does she try to do? What might she be thinking or feeling? 

Being attacked by a bully does not necessarily mean you are a bullied person. You may feel confident you can defend yourself. Maybe you’re a black belt in karate and the bully is about to find out! A bullied person is someone who has lost the creative ability to know how to defend himself. Even if he is physically stronger, or should know how to call for help, a bullied person is in a mental space that blocks his ability to fight back.

Big Boy and Little Boy

DISCUSSION: Why do you think the little boy felt he could bully the big boy? Why didn’t the big boy fight back at first? Was it right for the big boy to fight back? Would you fight back if you were being punched, or would you just take the punches? Why do some people not fight back? 

3. A BYSTANDER is anyone who sees another person being hurt or in pain, and does nothing.

The Bystander Effect

DISCUSSION: What would you think or feel if you walked past a person on the ground who might need help? Would you act differently than the bystanders in this video? Why? What might cause you to act the same way they do? 

4. A WITNESS is anyone who sees another person being hurt or in pain and interferes to protect the victim, or gets help.

Girl Abducted in Public

DISCUSSION: Did you notice how two men at the end of this experiment (and a woman in the background) try to help? What was different about their attitude towards what they saw was happening to the little girl? Why did they act, while others on the street did not? 

5. The most important thing a victim can do is TELL OTHERS. If you feel you may be the victim of a bully (your boss, a youth pastor, a cyberbully, someone at home, etc.), you need to find someone you can talk to. You may feel afraid that no one will care - because many people don’t want to get involved, and many will accuse you of “playing the victim” - but you NEED to find someone who believes you. You need to take this risk. 

DISCUSSION: What can a girl do if she feels everyone will tattletale if she tells them what is happening? What can a boy do if his parents do nothing but tell him to stop being a wimp? What are some things that bullied people tell themselves? (I should appease my bully. I should run away. If I show enough love he will stop. I deserve it. Etc.) 

This article is based on a book “The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander” ( Read this book if you want to learn more. You can also watch the recent documentary “Bully” (

Copyright August 23, 2012, all rights reserved. 8933 views

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