Bullying lesson plans are parts of a curriculum designed to address concerns about bullying. Providing classroom education allows teachers to engage directly with bullying, providing information to bullied students about what to do while also working on changing bullying behaviors on the playground, as well as outside of school. A number of organizations provide bullying lesson plans for general classroom use, and teachers or school districts can also develop their own, independently or in consultation with people involved in anti-bullying programs.
The content of a bullying lesson plan can vary, and is usually designed to cover several class periods, allowing for plenty of time to address the issue. It may be structured into a larger unit on health and opportunities can be provided for students to request assistance with managing bullies, including anonymous help for students who are too shy to come forward. The bullying lesson plans are generally aimed at students of a specific age, such as grammar or high school students.
In a bullying lesson plan, teachers will discuss what bullying is and how to identify it. They will also talk about the consequences of bullying, including lower self esteem, increased mental health issues, difficulty completing schoolwork, and so forth. The bullying lesson plan should provide tools for management of bullying like contacting teachers and other officials, as well as prompts intended to get students to change their own bullying behavior. Schools may also enact and enforce a zero tolerance policy for bullying, encouraging students to report abusive behavior when they see it occurring.
Historically, many anti-bullying programs focused on addressing issues in the classroom, cafeteria, and schoolyard. A modern bullying lesson plan should also focus on issues taking place outside of school. Cyberbullying, where students are harassed online, is one issue, as is bullying taking place on public transit and at social events. While the school district cannot directly intervene to put a stop to these behaviors, bullying lesson plans educating students about them and providing them with information on how to get help can be beneficial.
There are many approaches to anti-bullying, and some approaches have attracted criticism. Some bullying lesson plans, for example, may focus on personal responsibility and encouraging students to behave in ways that do not attract bullying. Critics argue that such programs take the responsibility away from bullies and place it on their victims, or encourage people to engage in potentially dangerous behavior like trying to stand up to students who may be older, stronger, and more aggressive than they are.