Learning how to be an Upstander!

Years and years ago, there was a woman by the name of Kitty Genovese who, during an attack, screamed out in the streets of New York for help. She screamed and screamed until she died. When police went around the area to conduct interviews, they realized that 38 people had heard her screams and that the majority of them had thought someone else would respond and call the police. We realized then that there is “bystander” effect and that we frequently don’t take responsibility for intervening when others are present.

Whilst being a bystander is often our initial response, it doesn’t have to be our final response. We can choose to be “upstanders” instead! An “upstander” is someone who recognizes that what is happening is wrong and chooses to do something about it.

Grades 6, 7, and 8 practiced brainstorming “upstander” responses and here were some of their ideas:

  1. Interrupt the interaction by asking for help with homework
  2. Distract the individuals by showing them your cool new watch (or other item)
  3. Interrupt by inviting either person to come and play
  4. Tell the person making the mean comments to “stop, that’s not cool”
  5. Comfort the other student privately by saying: “don’t listen to what he’s saying; he doesn’t know what he’s talking about”

We will continue this upstanding work in homerooms with more “What would you do?” videos and conversations, as well as additional role play situations.

If you’d like to know what videos students watched and what activities they did, take a look at the presentation below!

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