To the teacher:
This classroom activity is based on an attack on one girl by several others at a McDonald's restaurant in Brooklyn in March 2015. The incident went viral on YouTube. Consequently a video of what happened is easily accessible and could be used in discussing the incident. However, this activity does not depend on students having seen the video, and I strongly advise that you think carefully before using it. Consider the maturity of the students and how they might respond. Think about why you would use it, and whether it would enhance your students’ understanding.
This activity uses a circle format: Students sit in a circle and use a "talking piece," which can be anything from a stuffed animal to a seashell. Participants pass the talking piece around the circle in order, from one person to the next. The person who is holding it is invited to speak or pass. Everyone else in the circle practices active listening, knowing that their turn will come when the talking piece comes around. Everyone in the circle has an opportunity to share without interruption what is on their mind, and those not speaking can listen more fully without the distraction of preparing a response or rebuttal. In this way, the talking piece encourages more thoughtful reflection and unhurried expression.
See this Introduction to Circles for a more complete description of the circle process.
If students have not participated in a circle before, explain the process.
Then share with students these facts about an incident that occurred in a McDonald’s restaurant in Brooklyn, NY, in March 2015.
1) A teenage girl was attacked by a group of girls in McDonald’s.
2) The teenage girl was severely beaten.
3) A number of other teenagers encouraged the beating of the girl and cheered on the attack.
4) Many bystanders, teenagers and adults as well, used their cell phones to record the beating.
5) It appears that no one stepped in to try to protect the teenager, call for help, or assist the girl in any way.
Read the following quote by Martin Luther King:
The ultimate measure of a person is not where one stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where one stands in times of challenge and controversy.
Pass the talking piece around the circle, asking the questions below in succession with each new go-round.
- How does Martin Luther King’s quote relate to the incident at McDonald's?
- Who was bullied, who were the bullies, and who were the bystanders?
- What do you think Martin Luther King would have done if he were at McDonald’s that day?
- What would you have done if you were at McDonald’s that day? How would you help the girl and at the same time protect yourself?
- Have you ever been bullied or attacked? If so, did anyone come to your aid?
- What value or values do you think were missing among the bullies and the bystanders at McDonald’s?
- What can we do to help prevent similar situations from occurring?
- If you, your friend, sister, brother or relative were the individual being attacked, would you be able to forgive the people who were the bullies? What would your reaction be?
Read the following saying:
It takes a strong person to say sorry, and an even stronger person to forgive.
Ask: What do you think about this quote?