George Lucas Educational Foundation
5-Minute Film Festival

5-Minute Film Festival: Turning Bystanders Into Upstanders Against Bullying

Transforming bystanders into "upstanders" is an effective strategy for bullying prevention. This collection of videos and resources will show students how to speak out when they see someone being bullied.

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This October, for Bullying Prevention Month, empower kids by showing them how one person can make a difference when it comes to bullying. It takes courage to move from being a bystander, who is merely observing cruel behavior, to being an upstander, who speaks up against it. I've gathered some resources for you to help teach the kids in your life to be upstanders instead of bystanders, starting by simply choosing kindness and inclusion.

Video Playlist: Become an Upstander

Watch the first video below, or watch the whole playlist on YouTube.

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  1. Be an Upstander by The NED Show (04:00) This delightful animated video from character education provider The NED Show gives four tangible tips that help kids go from bystander to upstander. There's a free K-6 bullying prevention lesson plan available at the website.
  2. Partnering to Prevent Bullying (00:30)

    This Australian public service announcement really packs a punch into just 30 seconds -- with a great twist at the end. An excellent conversation starter about how bullying affects more than just the victim.

  3. Who Is an Upstander? (02:24)

    Facing History and Ourselves is an organization that uses history to teach tolerance to students around the globe. This short comic-book-inspired video explains how the work they do helps turn apathetic kids into upstanders. Their website is chock full of educator resources.

  4. Stand Up, Stand Strong: The Consequence of Words (03:43)

    This stunning high school student-produced video has only a music track for audio, but poignantly shows viewers the power of words to make a difference, for better or for worse.

  5. To This Day Project (07:36)

    I've featured this one before in a spoken word playlist, but it's so incredibly powerful I'd like to revisit it for this post. Poet Shane Koyczan speaks up for everyone who has been bullied with this poem set to animation by more than 80 different artists.

  6. Kindergarten PSA: Don't Be a Bystander! (01:43)

    Six kindergartners use American Sign Language to urge their peers to stand up against bullying. So sweet I can't even stand it!

  7. The Importance of Kindness (02:12)

    A lovely animated adaptation of excerpts from a commencement speech given by George Saunders at Syracuse University, this video has a simple message that sometimes standing by and doing nothing, when you could have extended a hand in kindness, is what you end up regretting most.

More Resources on Speaking Out Against Bullying

The anti-bullying movement has gained steam over the past few decades and evolved as new concerns emerged around technology and digital citizenship, and as adults became more aware of how dire the consequences of bullying can be. Fortunately, this new awareness has led to a renaissance of resources. For basic bullying prevention, you can find videos and resources in my 2012 bullying prevention film festival, or lots more on Edutopia's bullying prevention topic page. The list below focuses specifically on the idea of bystanders and upstanders. Feel free to share your own resources for helping kids become upstanders in the comments below!