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C.B. CANGA
How Can You Help When Someone Is Being Bullied?

Small steps can go far.

By Lauren Tarshis
Lexile: 500L-600L, 600L-700L
Guided Reading Level: S
DRA Level: 40
Topic: SEL,

You’ve met girls like Mia—bossy girls who seem to have mysterious powers. Mia controls her friends like a wizard with an invisible wand. What she does, they do. When she decides someone is “out,” well, that’s that.

Like Ellie, a girl on her school bus.

One day Mia decided that nobody should sit near Ellie. So nobody did. Mia thought it was so funny how Ellie got on the bus and looked around for a seat, and how no one made room.

What Mia was doing—making another kid feel like a squashed bug—is bullying. There’s also a name for Mia’s and Ellie’s friends, who saw what was going on and did nothing. They’re known as bystanders.

In nearly 90 percent of all bullying episodes, there are bystanders; 75 percent of the time, those witnesses do nothing to stop the bullying.

Grace, one of Mia’s friends on the bus, had a choice: stay out of it, or step in and help.

You’ve met girls like Mia—bossy girls who seem to have strange powers. Mia controls her friends like a wizard with a wand. What she does, they do. When she decides someone is “out,” well, that’s that.

Like Ellie, a girl on her school bus.

One day Mia decided that no one should sit near Ellie. So no one did. Ellie got on the bus and looked around for a seat. No one made room. Mia thought it was funny.

Mia made Ellie feel like a squashed bug. That’s bullying. There’s also a name for the kids who saw what was going on and did nothing. They’re called bystanders.

Nine times out of 10, when someone is bullied, there are witnesses. Three times out of four, those people do nothing to stop the bullying.

Grace, one of Mia’s friends on the bus, had a choice: Stay out of it, or step in and help.

Tú conoces a niñas como Mia, chicas mandonas que parecen poseer misteriosos poderes. Mia controla a sus amigos como una maga con una varita invisible. Ellos hacen lo que ella haga. Cuando decide sacar a alguien del grupo, bueno, se acabó. 

Como le pasó a Ellie, una niña en el autobús escolar.

Un día, Mia decidió que nadie debía sentarse cerca de Ellie. Y todos obedecieron. Mia pensaba que era divertido ver a Ellie subir al autobús, buscar un asiento y que nadie le dejara un lugar. 

Lo que Mia hacía (hacer que otra persona se sienta como un insecto aplastado) se conoce como bullying, o sea, abuso. También hay otro nombre para los amigos de Mia y Ellie, que vieron lo que estaba pasando y no hicieron nada. Se conocen como espectadores. 

En cerca del 90 por ciento de los episodios de abuso, hay espectadores. En el 75 por ciento de las veces, esos espectadores no hacen nada para detener el abuso. 

Grace, una de las amigas de Mia en el autobús, tenía una opción: no involucrarse o intervenir y ayudar.

C.B. CANGA

Staying Out of It

Staying Out of It

No te involucres

“I felt bad for Ellie, but I was afraid that if I did something to stick up for her, Mia would be mean to me,” Grace said. She didn’t want to be Mia’s next victim.

Grace also worried that by speaking up, she’d bring more attention to the problem. Ellie might not want that. She might even get mad at Grace. Maybe she should stay quiet on the bus, Grace thought, but tell Ellie in private that she was on her side.

Grace’s mom urged her to sit next to Ellie. But was that really a good idea? Perhaps the best thing for Grace to do was to mind her own business.

“I felt bad for Ellie, but I was afraid that if I did something to stick up for her, Mia would be mean to me,” Grace said. She didn’t want to be Mia’s next victim.

Grace also worried that by speaking up, she’d bring more attention to the problem. Ellie might not want that. Grace thought about staying quiet on the bus but telling Ellie in private that she was on her side. 

Grace’s mom urged her to sit next to Ellie. But was that really a good idea? Maybe the best thing for Grace to do was to mind her own business.

“Me sentí mal por Ellie, pero tenía miedo de que si hacía algo por defenderla, Mia me haría algo malo”, dice Grace. No quería ser la próxima víctima de Mia. 

A Grace también le preocupaba que, al protestar, llamaría más la atención al problema. Tal vez, Ellie no quería eso. Puede que hasta se enfadara con Grace. Podía quedarse callada en el autobús, pensó Grace, y decirle a Ellie en privado que ella estaba de su lado.

La mamá de Grace le pidió que se sentara al lado de Ellie. Pero, ¿era esa en realidad una buena idea? Quizá, lo mejor para Grace era no meterse. 

Stepping In to Help

Stepping In to Help

Intervenir y ayudar

Of course, you should never risk your safety if the bullying is dangerous. If you could get hurt by stepping in, talk to an adult.

But Mia wasn’t exactly dangerous. She’s barely 4'5" and wears a Hello Kitty backpack. As with most bullies, her weapons are words, giggles, and mean looks, not fists or knives.

Very often, you can help by taking small and simple steps, like ignoring the bully and saying a kind word to the victim. This shows the bully that you don’t like what she’s doing. Kids like Mia need an audience or their shows come to an end.

Grace realized that what was happening on the bus was her business. So one day, she simply sat next to Ellie. And guess what Mia did?

Nothing.

Grace’s one act, like the wave of another invisible wand, broke the spell. Ellie was back “in.” Mia was still bossy and mean. But nobody was being bullied.

Grace helped. Would you?

Of course, you should never risk your safety. If you could get hurt by stepping in, talk to an adult.

But Mia wasn’t exactly dangerous. She’s barely 4'5" and wears a Hello Kitty backpack. Her weapons aren’t fists and knives. They’re words, giggles, and mean looks.

Often, you can help by taking small and simple steps. You can ignore the bully. You can say a kind word to the victim. This shows the bully that you don’t like what she’s doing. Kids like Mia need an audience, or their show comes to an end.

Grace realized that what was happening on the bus was her business. So one day, she sat next to Ellie. And guess what Mia did?

Nothing.

Grace’s one act, like the wave of another wand, broke the spell. Ellie was back “in.” Mia was still bossy and mean. But nobody was being bullied.

Grace helped. Would you?

Por supuesto, nunca deberías ponerte en riesgo si el abuso es peligroso. Si puedes terminar herido por intervenir, habla con un adulto. 

Pero Mia no era precisamente peligrosa. Medía apenas 4’5” y llevaba una mochila de Hello Kitty. Como la mayoría de los abusadores, sus armas son las palabras, las risitas y las miradas serias, no los puños o las navajas. 

A menudo, puedes ayudar dando pasos pequeños y sencillos, como ignorar al abusador y ofrecer una palabra amable a la víctima. Esto le deja saber al abusador que no te gusta lo que está haciendo. Los niños como Mia necesitan una audiencia para que sus espectáculos continúen.

Grace se dio cuenta de que sí era su problema lo que estaba pasando en el autobús. Así que un día, simplemente, se sentó al lado de Ellie. Y adivinen qué hizo Mia. 

Nada.

El simple acto de Grace, cual varita mágica, rompió el hechizo. Ellie volvió a ser parte del grupo. Mia todavía era antipática y mandona, pero no había abusos. 

Grace ayudó. ¿Lo harías tú? 

Activities (2)
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Answer Key (1)
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Answer Key (1)
Can't-Miss Teaching Extras
Stop Bullying Now!

The stopbullying.gov website has a section just for kids with facts about bullying and tips about what young people can do when faced with a bullying situation. Students can watch 12 short webisodes about a group of animals who deal with issues related to bullying at their school. 

Short Video: "Bullying & CyberBullying"

As a class, watch Common Sense Education’s 2-minute video explaining what bullies do and how to deal with them.

Encourage Kindness

Kids can have fun being kind with these “kindness catchers” that suggest nice actions such as “invite someone new to sit with you at lunch” and “ask someone how their day is going.”

More About the Story

Skills

opinion writing

Complexity Factors

Purpose

The debate looks at the best ways to respond when someone is being bullied.   

Structure

The text presents a bullying situation on a school bus and works through a witness's decison of whether or not to intervene. 

Language

The language is conversational.

Knowledge Demands 

No special background knowledge needed.

Step-by-Step Lesson Plan

1. Preparing to Read

Have students preview the text features. Ask:

  • What is the topic of the debate? (Prompt students to use the debate title and the heading on the chart as clues.)
  • What do you think are the two sides of the issue?

2. Reading the Debate 

Read the debate as a class or in small groups.

Have students read the debate a second time. Prompt them to mark the types of support the author presents to back up each side, including:

  • Facts and statistics (F/S)
  • Quotes from experts (Q)
  • Stories or examples (EX)

3. Discussing

As a class or in groups, have students discuss:

  • Which evidence is most effective in supporting each side?
  • Is one side stronger than the other? Why?
  • What is your opinion? What evidence do you find the most convincing?
  • For more-advanced students: Do you think the author has a preferred point of view on this issue? What is your evidence?

4. Writing

Have students complete the chart in the magazine.

Distribute the activity “Write an Opinion Essay.” The lower-level version guides students to write a three-paragraph essay on the debate topic. The higher-level version prompts them to bring in additional evidence and write six paragraphs, including a rebuttal of the other side. With either version, hand out our Opinion Writing Toolkit, which offers writing tips and transition words.