Stand Up Against Bullying

First published 2017. To view the latest Heads Up content, click here.

The lesson and activities in this program will help students develop awareness and skills to help them respond to situations that involve bullying.

Click below or scroll down for all the
turnkey materials needed for this program.


The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have joined Scholastic to develop this grades 6—12 health, life skills, and language arts poster/teaching guide that aims to prevent bullying as well as lower associated risks, such as substance abuse.

While studies support the importance of preventing aggressive behavior among middle and high school students, they’ve also shown that children and youths who are bullied may suffer long-term negative consequences—including depression, anxiety, and an increased risk for alcohol and drug use. But it’s not only those who are bullied who may experience these consequences. Those who do the bullying—as well as bystanders—can also be affected.

Bullying creates an unsafe environment for students. However, students can help prevent bullying by standing up and speaking out. The lesson, activities, and work sheets in this program will help students build skills they need to identify potentially harmful situations around them and to determine steps they can take to safely intervene if they see a peer in trouble. By learning how to take action, they can make a difference not only in someone else’s life—but they can help create a safer environment for themselves.

Download This Poster/Teaching Guide (PDF)

COMPONENTS: Poster • Lesson and Activity • Work Sheets
TOPICS: Bullying • Drug and Alchohol Use

  • Learn how to recognize situations that involve bullying.
  • Build awareness about the negative consequences of bullying, including an increased risk of drug and alcohol use.
  • Build an understanding about how a bystander’s behavior can impact bullying.
  • Build skills needed to help prevent bullying and safely intervene if someone is in trouble.

  • In a recent national survey, one in five high school students reported having been bullied at school in the prior 12 months. Sixteen percent reported having been cyberbullied.1
  • In a recent report, 25 percent of public middle schools reported that student bullying occurred at least once a week.2
  • Studies have shown that all children and youths involved in bullying—from those who are bullied to those doing the bullying and to bystanders—have a higher risk of mental health problems and addiction.3 These negative effects can last into adulthood.4

Health/Life Skills Standard 1: Comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease. RI.1 Cite textual evidence
English Language Arts Standard 2: Analyze the influence of family, peers, culture, and other factors on health behaviors. RI.2 Determine central idea and details
Standards 4 & 5: Use interpersonal communication skills and decision-making skills to enhance health and avoid or reduce health risks. W.1 Write opinion texts
Standard 7: Practice health-enhancing behaviors and reduce health risks. W.2 Write informative texts
Standard 8: Advocate for personal and community health.



Time Required: Two 30-minute class periods plus additional time for optional reinforcement/wrap-up activity.



PART 1 | Poster Discussion

Share with students the flyer-size poster or full-size poster and use it to engage students in a conversation about bullying. The questions and possible answers below 
may help to guide your discussion. You can revisit these after completing the activities:

  • What is bullying? (Bullying is a form of violence among two or more children/youths that can include physical attacks or emotional or social abuse, comprising verbal or written actions such as name-calling, teasing, threats, spreading rumors, or excluding someone from a group. Bullying is unwanted aggressive behavior that involves an observed or perceived imbalance of power and occurs repeatedly over time. Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth.)
  • Who is impacted when a child or youth is bullied? How are they affected? (Those affected by bullying include the child or youth who is bullied, who may feel isolated and sad; the child or youth who bullies others, who may or may not feel bad about his or her behavior; and the bystanders, who may be scared that they will also become victims.)
  • Why is it important to stand up and speak up if you witness a peer who is in trouble? (The student may be afraid to ask for help. You could be the person who safely helps him or her get out of a harmful situation. You could help make your environment safer. You may help protect him or her from long-term consequences, including depression, anxiety, and addiction.)
  • Why do you think many students do not take action when they see another student being bullied? (Students may feel sad or scared. They may feel relieved that they are not being bullied. Bystanding students might not want to get involved in such harmful situations.)


PART 2 | Activity – Bullying: Recognizing a Problem

This activity presents students with scenarios that may or may not involve bullying, and helps them to pay attention to details or clues that may indicate a peer is in trouble.

Step 1: As a class, quickly brainstorm a few situations that involve bullying. Ask students if they think bullying is always obvious. Could bullying sometimes look like friendly pranks? Refer to the step on the poster front “Take Notice” and discuss why it is important to be able to recognize bullying. (The first step in making a difference is recognizing that a peer is in trouble.)

Step 2: Hand out the work sheet “Bullying: Recognizing a Problem” (PDF) and have students complete Part 1 of the work sheet in pairs.

Step 3: When everyone is finished, summarize the key points that students discussed about how you can tell if a peer is being bullied or is struggling in other ways, such as with drugs and alcohol. (There are clues about whether a behavior is bullying, such as: if a group of students is isolating another student, or if messages are mean-spirited, or if one student is repeatedly the target of attacks, etc. It may be a clue that the behavior is not bullying if, for example, it is a one-time joke and the student who is at the center is good friends with the other students.)

Step 4: Have students complete Part 2 of the work sheet individually and then discuss their answers. Together, make a list of safe actions that students can take when they see a peer in trouble (for example: alert a teacher; reach out to the student in trouble by inviting him or her to join a lunch table or an activity after school; avoid sharing harmful messages, etc.). Highlight the importance of reaching out to a trusted adult. Make a list of the adults at your school with whom students can talk, such as a guidance counselor. Find more advice for educators and students about bullying prevention strategies that have been shown to be effective at


PART 3 | Activity—Bullying: Who’s Involved?

Step 1: During another class period, distribute the work sheet “Bullying: Who’s Involved?” (PDF) Have students read the descriptions of bullying participants, and then identify the participants in the illustration. (Answers are listed on the work sheet.)

Step 2: Next, study the scenario in the illustration. Ask for volunteers to act out the individual roles in the scenario. One by one, discuss each of the roles. Ask the players to explain how they would feel in that situation. What are some specific impacts the situation might have in the short term and in the long term?

Answers will vary, but some possible discussion points include:

may feel powerful in the short term Student who bullies
may or may not feel bad in the short or long term about the behavior because he or she bullied or did not help the victim Student who bullies; Follower; Silent bystander
may turn to alcohol or drugs in the short or long term with the mistaken idea that it will make them feel happier All
may feel sad or scared to witness frightening interactions Follower; Silent bystander; Defender
may feel depressed in the short or long term from the bullying experience All
may feel isolated and alone especially when other students don’t reach out to help Student who is bullied; Follower; Silent bystander; Defender
may be scared that they will become a victim All
may feel proud that he or she tries to help the victim Defender

Step 3: Ask for a volunteer to read aloud the “Also Involved” section on drugs and alcohol. Discuss the “Think About It” questions as a class.


PART 4 | Activity—Reinforcement/Wrap-Up

As a class, discuss how bullying creates an unsafe environment in your school. According to the U.S. Department of Education, bullying can violate a student’s civil rights—or the legal right to freedom and equality. Discuss the anti-bullying policies in place at your school. Brainstorm ways you could help make your school a safer place. Some ideas might include signing a specific pledge that says you won’t bully other students or creating posters to inform students about the potential health risks of bullying. Then create the necessary materials to put your plan into action.



1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States MMWR: (2016) “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2015.”

2Musu-Gillette, et al., National Center for Education Statistics: (2017) “Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2016.”

3Espelage, et al. (2010). Bullying in North American Schools, 2nd Edition.

4Radliff, et al. Addiction Behavior: (2012) “Illuminating the relationship between bullying and substance use among middle and high school youth.”

5CDC, National Health Education Standards,


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