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  • Lesson plan
  • Grades 11-12

Transforming a Culture of Silence: Preventing Sexual Violence and Rape


When you witness an injustice, remaining silent or acting as a bystander is an active choice that is an impediment to justice. Speaking out and taking action are the counterpoints. The modern Civil Rights Movement would not have had the impact it did without thousands of individuals who spoke out and acted nonviolently to gain equal treatment under the law. More recently, the #MeToo movement’s power stems from individuals choosing to name and hold accountable those who perpetrate sexual harassment and violence. In both examples, the key factor in overcoming oppression and exploitation is breaking silence in the face of injustice.

In this lesson students will have the opportunity to examine the consequences of remaining silent specifically in relation to sexual violence and rape. Classrooms will watch curated segments from the acclaimed documentary Roll Red Roll, analyze in small groups a variety of perspectives involved in the case and identify moments when silence could have been broken. Students will then look at individuals who did intervene as model upstanders and reflect by writing proactive and prosocial steps they can each take to prevent, intervene, inform others and work toward ending sexual violence and rape culture.

Important Note to Educators

Roll Red Roll is a film about a sexual assault that occurred and can be difficult to watch and talk about, regardless of whether you or someone you know has been affected by violence. The film and lesson also include explicit language. Bringing these elements into a classroom conversation and sharing and processing this information requires a strong culture of respect and trust.

To prepare yourself and your students for this lesson:

● Read through the Discussion Guide for Roll Red Roll and consider integrating the Key Themes for Discussion and the related questions from the discussion guide into this POV lesson.

● Watch all the film clips suggested for this lesson prior to screening them in your classroom.

● Review the Resources section of this lesson and familiarize yourself with the recommended organizations and materials from the Discussion Guide for Roll Red Roll.

● Refer to and/or print and distribute the Important Terminology sheet at the end of this lesson and use it as a reference for yourself and your students. These terms and definitions can provide language for the class to use when discussing the film and the topics covered.

This lesson also offers two days of engagement, depending upon the grade level and preparedness of your students.

Lesson: Students will view Clips 1 through 3, discuss a variety of perspectives and complete a reflective writing exercise.

Extended Learning: Students will view Clips 4 and 5, discuss the choice of complicity by many peers and critically examine how technology added to the violation by bringing the crime to the “public square” of social media. If incorporating day two film segments, please pay particular attention to who is in your classroom.

About the authors


Blueshift is a team of education specialists with background in environmental and social impact work. The team recognizes and builds on the power of documentary film in reaching broad audiences to spark energy for deep and lasting social change. The team works with filmmakers, photographers and writers to develop innovative educational strategies, experiences, tools and resources that bring stories off the screen and into viewers' lives.