Upstanders: Stand Up to Bullying

A Program of the Holocaust Center

Empowering Young People to Stand Up to Bullying

The UpStanders Program is a bullying prevention initiative of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center. Rooted in Holocaust Education, the UpStanders Program challenges students to study one of the world’s paramount examples of prejudice in order to understand the role each of us plays in shaping a better future.

Download our UpStanders brochure to share with your school. Upstanders Brochure

About UpStanders

The UpStanders program demonstrates the importance of standing up and speaking out when students witness bullying through stories of Holocaust Rescuers. A “rescuer” is an individual who did everything in their power to save the lives of those being persecuted during the Holocaust. The UpStanders Program teaches students how to safely and effectively support their peers who are being mistreated. Once students understand the importance of being UpStanders rather than bystanders, they have the knowledge they need to make their school a safe and respectful place.

The UpStanders Program is professionally evaluated every school year using climate surveys and focus groups. Program lessons align with Florida Standards in 6th grade social studies and language arts as well as 7th grade civics and language arts. Since its inception in 2010, the UpStanders Program has been provided to more than 25,000 students in 68 schools, located in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, and Brevard counties.

The Holocaust Center is thankful for the generous support of our partners:

Westgate Foundation

The Chesley G. Magruder Foundation, Inc.

Kiwanis Club of Orlando Foundation

This program was made possible by a grant from Contigo Fund, an initiative of Our Fund Foundation.

Program Phases

At the beginning of 6th grade, students visit the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center and learn the history of the Holocaust and how it relates to human rights and American ideals. They also explore how prejudice and bias can escalate into violence and discrimination and discover the power of speaking out against bullying. This presentation is 2 hours.

Following the field trip, The UpStanders Program Coordinator visits schools and presents to students about bullying prevention. Students are provided with a toolkit on how to recognize bullying and safe ways to intervene in order to stop bullying. The key to empowering students is turning bystander behavior into “UpStander” behavior. This presentation is 45 minutes.

At the beginning of 7th grade, students hear the personal testimony of renowned speaker, John Halligan, whose son took his own life after being bullied in elementary and middle school. Mr. Halligan encourages students to think about the consequences of bullying as they relate to teen depression and society as a whole. His message is hopeful as he tells student to always remember that they are loved beyond belief and that each one of them has the power to stop bullying. John is also available to do an evening program for parents that focuses on information he and his wife, Kelly, wish they had known. This presentation is 1½ hours.

Lastly, the Holocaust Center’s resource teacher provides an in-school presentation on the history and lessons of the Holocaust as they relate to the UpStander concept. Thousands of lives were saved during the Holocaust because of a few Rescuers who were ready to take risks to protect their friends and neighbors because it was, simply, the right thing to do. The Holocaust Center developed a curriculum that draws a clear connection between bullying, bystanders and the Holocaust. Students take away that they can become an UpStander, not a bystander. This presentation is 45 minutes.

Our gratitude to all who make the UpStanders program available to students in our community including; Duke Energy, City of Orlando, Orange County Public School, Seminole County Public Schools, Florida Blue, Westgate Resorts Foundation, Contigo Fund, Chesley G. Magruder Foundation, Maitland Rotary, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, St. Margaret Mary Catholic School.

Become an UpStander School

We are always looking for schools to join us in our efforts to create a community free of bullying. If you would like more information about bringing the UpStanders Program to your school, please submit your interest to the UpStanders Program Coordinator.

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What is Bullying?

Bullying involves an unwanted, aggressive behavior that is repeated over time and suggests an imbalance of power. The imbalance of power means that the person being bullied is unable to defend him or herself.  Bullying behavior can be physical, social, or emotional. Cyberbullying takes place online or with the use of technology.  Common examples of bullying behavior include:


  • Physical intimidation
  • Spreading rumors
  • Cruel text messages
  • Negative images posted online


The bullying prevention law of Florida , the “Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act,” states that bullying or harassment of any student or employee of a public k-12 educational institution is prohibited. Each school district is required to adopt a policy prohibiting bullying or harassment.

Refer to Stop Bullying more information about bullying.

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