By Rosalind Wiseman
The Owning Up Curriculum provides a structured program for teaching students to own up and take responsibility – as perpetrators, bystanders, and targets – for unethical behavior. The curriculum is designed for adolescent groups in schools and other settings.
It presents a unique and comprehensive approach to preventing youth violence by targeting the root causes of bullying and other forms of social cruelty. It exposes the cultural expectations that teach young people to humiliate and dehumanize others as the way to achieve power and respect, then challenges them to transform this dynamic.
The program also addresses the nuanced ways in which racism, classism, and homophobia are expressed in our culture and affect social cruelty and violence.
Owning Up provides 17 separate sessions for girls and for boys that combine group discussions, games, role-playing, and other activities to engage students in understanding the complexities of adolescent social culture. These sessions help students achieve the following objectives:
- Identify and discuss behaviors and attitudes associated with groups, popularity, trust, exclusion, and bullying.
- Understand anger and how it can influence behavior, and learn a strategy to communicate when angry.
- Develop a plan of action when a friend or group demeans you or someone else.
- Recognize the influence of popular culture on individuals’ behavior and decision making.
- Examine how a boy’s or girl’s self-image affects behavior and attitudes toward others.
- Develop an understanding of how culture affects interactions between boys and girls and learn skills for communicating effectively.
- Understand the concept of reputations and the challenges in staying away from gossip.
- Define cyberbullying, understand its impact, and brainstorm solutions.
- Define sexual harassment, recognize and respect boundaries, and become aware of policies relating to sexual harassment.
- Understand the differences between healthy and abusive relationships.
- Identify and strengthen support networks and personal standards of dignity.
- He Says/She Says, a 5-step exercise to give students an opportunity to see how the “other side” feels and thinks
- Pre-tests and post-tests for grades 6-8 and 9-12
- Sample letters to parents or guardians about bullying
- A sample school technology contractA 14-page list of resources