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Owning Up

Owning Up
Empowering Adolescents to Confront Social Cruelty, Bullying, and Injustice

Second Edition
Additional resources:

September 2016 | 184 pages | Corwin

Empower students to stand up for what matters

Social dynamics, conflicts, and bullying influence every child’s ability to learn. At the same time, a safe school climate depends on teaching students the skills to manage their emotions and critically think through solutions to social conflicts. How, then, do you prepare youth to be engaged learners and responsible, socially conscious citizens? Owning Up offers a solution by teaching young people to understand their individual development in relation to group behavior, the influence of social media on their conflicts, and the dynamics that lead to discrimination and bigotry. Whether you’re teaching in a school, a team, or a youth-serving organization, Owning Up is a flexible, dynamic curriculum that respects your knowledge of the young people you work with and the communities in which you serve.

While there is no one-size-fits-all curriculum, Owning Up takes us leaps forward by

  • Designing sessions to be easily facilitated by a school counselor, teacher, leader, or other professional in small group settings
  • Combining discussions, games, and role-playing to engage adolescents in the complexities of social culture
  • Exploring and connecting critical topics such as media analysis, gender, sexual harassment, racism, gossip, and self-image

Created in collaboration with children and teens, Owning Up helps young people identify and be critical of social issues in their lives--from bullying and harassment in the classroom to systems of power and oppression in the world around them.

About the Author
1. Getting Started: And (Hopefully) Not Wasting Your Time
2. Getting Out of the Box: Are We Boxed Into Gender Norms?
3. Just Kidding: Why Are We Really Laughing?
4. SEAL: I Know What the Problem Is, but How Do I Fix It?
5. The Power of Gossip: They Said What?!
6. Reputations and Double Standards: Keep It? Lose It? Change It?
7. The Power of Groups: Friendships, Strategic Alliances, or Both?
8. Creating Your Style: Brand Names and Price Tags
9. Managing Technology: Posts, Profiles, and Platforms
10. The Mirror: Why Do I Try to Look Like This?
11. Race and Bias: What Do We Really See?
12. Facing Race, Ethnicity, and Gender: Did I Say Something Wrong?
13. Finding Support: Don’t Go It Alone
14. Crushes and Rejection: Do They Like Me?
15. Recognizing and Respecting Boundaries: How Far Is Too Far?
16. Sexual Harassment: It’s Complicated
17. Concluding the Program: Please Say You Learned Something!
A. Pretest/Posttest Surveys
B. Starting the School Year Right: How Do We Address Bullying at Our School?
C. Letter to Parent or Guardian of a Child Who Is Bullying
D. Letter From Parent or Guardian Whose Child Is Being Bullied
E. Friendship Bill of Rights
F. Handout for Interviewing an Adult
G. Act Like a Girl and Act Like a Boy Handouts
H. Questions for the Beach Ball Exercise
I. Group Roles: Pros and Cons
J. Eating Disorders Handout
K. I Am . . .


"Owning Up is an invaluable curriculum. I have used it consistently for 15 years in many settings.  It is particularly relevant for middle schoolers, who need guidance in the operations of social culture and how to navigate the often treacherous landscape of relationships through middle school and beyond. Owning Up is a necessary tool for teaching effective interpersonal skills and social consciousness."

Julie Baron, LCSW-C, Former Middle School Counselor, Adolescent Therapist, and co-author of What Works With Teens

"The Owning Up curriculum provides a relevant, current, and kid-friendly framework that uses students' language to teach them social justice. It is dynamic and engaging and my students are excited to come each week to learn more strategies to make the middle years easier."



Katey McPherson, Secondary Administrator, Gilbert, AZ and Executive Director, The Gurian Institute
The Gurian Institute

"Owning Up is the most logical and down-to-earth curriculum I have used with my students in over ten years. Wiseman's ability to help the counselor or teacher relate to kids is unparalleled. The curriculum provides a framework with a variety of activities and lessons within each session, which allows any educator using it to make it their own. It creates a natural rhythm for the educator and the students, and this creates a safe space for honest and open dialogue. Wiseman does a great job of reminding adults that we carry our own baggage from our own adolescent years. If we can put that aside, or be mindful it exists, we can help students have a healthier middle and high school experience. If you use one curriculum this is the one you should choose, because it will transform your classroom and allow your students to talk about tough topics and still feel safe."

Carey Faversham Goldstein, Upper School Counselor, Louisville Collegiate School

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