Description: Create wall displays that will inform your classmates about specific times they should tell a parent, teacher, or counselor about a bully. Practice deciding when to tell and not tell. Write a paragraph about telling versus not telling.
Teaches: Using one’s intuition and logic to make a decision and learning the difference between telling and tattling.
Helpful Hints: Ask students to list ways they would tell the difference between bullying and harmless remarks.
Bullying hurts people’s feelings, while harmless remarks are light and silly. Unlike bullying, harmless remarks never involve put-downs or hurtful words. Harmless remarks sometimes come from friends who want you to laugh with them, while bullying comes from someone who doesn’t show concernfor you as a friend or as a person.
Groups create a display for the classroom or hallway using long sheets of paper. Tell students to use powerful words that strengthen their messages about when to tell or not tell.
Have groups discuss what types of colors and illustration arrangements would reinforce the information in their displays.
Bright, bold colors and large print would help make the messages meaningful as would arranging similar ideas together to send a coherent message against bullying.
1. Discuss specific instances when it’s best to tell a parent, teacher, or counselor about a bully’s activities. Have the class also brainstorm situations that they don’t need to tell about. Ask how the two types of situations differ. Make a chart on the board. Label one side Tell and the other Don’t Tell. Ask the class to think of at least five examples for each category that they can later use in an individual activity.
2. Stress that the decision to tell or not tell is often an individual judgment call based on how the student feels about the intention of the person making the remarks. Discuss how we can often tell if a person has a hurtful or playful intention.
Think of the person’s past history. Did the person make statements that weren’t usually carried out, or did the person do what was spoken about? Has the person bullied other people, and was the bullying severe? Also, consider the person’s body language and voice tone. Does he or she sound and look threatening like someone you wouldn’t be able to handle on your own?
On the other hand, is the person one who often plays jokes and harmless pranks on classmates? If you have any doubts about whether the person has a hurtful or playful intention, contact an adult and discuss it. It’s better to tell and be safe than to take a chance.
3. If there’s embarrassment in front of others involved, it may mean that the person experiencing teasing should tell. Ask the class what other things come into play when they have to decide whether to tell or not tell.
4. Ask students to give examples of hurtful words they would need to tell an adult about. Conversely, ask for examples of harmless remarks they’ve decided not to tell about in the past.
5. Ask the class to discuss the concept of zero tolerance. Under what circumstances should a student never hesitate to tell on a bully?
6. Discuss why children sometimes don’t tell an adult about a bully’s actions.
Fear that the bully will retaliate
Embarrassment in front of others
Concern that others will call them tattletales
1. Ask small groups to use the ideas the class discussed and their own to create displays about when it’s best to tell and not to tell about a bullying episode.
2. As an alternative, some groups may want to create comparison charts about when they should tell or not tell.
3. After groups make their displays or comparison charts, they will explain them to the class and answer questions the class has about them.
4. Have students post displays in the classroom or halls. Ask the principal to have students discuss their best posters (voted on by the class) in a school assembly about bullying.
1. Use some of the situations the class thought of for Tell or Don’t Tell (see activity 1, entire class). Ask students to select one of the examples and to write a paragraph about why they think it’s a good idea to tell or not tell in that instance.
I believe it’s important to tell in the case of the boy who constantly trips a student in the hall and calls him weird. Anytime a person hurts someone physically, it’s important to tell because it might lead to a serious injury. Also, calling another student names over a period of time can seriously hurt that person’s feelings and make the person lose confidence, especially if he or she is shy. Whenever someone hurts another person this way, the person facing this type of bullying should tell because it probably won’t stop and may even get worse.