Bullying is a common problem that greatly affects the school environment and student learning. Some adults view bullying simply as a “rite of passage,” but this anti-social behavior is a form of harassment that can result in life-long emotional, physical, and academic consequences. Bullying is defined as any intentionally aggressive behavior involving an imbalance of power, which continues over time. It includes all behaviors that are hurtful to others and can take the form of physical, verbal, non-verbal, or cyber abuse. This week, we offer a series of bully prevention strategies designed to be used in concordance with your school’s disciplinary codes, legal policies, and grievance procedures.
This Week's Tips
Sensitize Yourself to Bullying (Monday)
Become aware of when bullying occurs. Teachers recognize that bullying often occurs without their knowledge, in less supervised settings, and without a reporting of the incident by the victim. Gain information about bullying in your school through an anonymous student survey. Give students an opportunity to respond to a variety of questions, such as: On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being a “small amount” and 10 being a “great amount,” how would you rate the amount of bullying at our school? When/where does bullying occur?
Discourage Bullying When it Occurs (Tuesday)
Increase supervision of students and be prepared to intervene. Take the time to stop, listen, take all complaints seriously, and understand bullying. If the necessity arises to intervene, and your school policy allows, stand between the involved students to block their eye contact. Maintain a calm tone of voice without asking what happened publicly. This allows the victim to gain control and “save face.” If appropriate, impose immediate and consistent consequences as outlined by your school policies.
Support Students Who Are Bullied (Wednesday)
Provide a safe haven and be sensitive to students who are bullied. Send a clear message of support as you focus on the student victim, assuring confidentiality and providing the opportunity to talk. Respond calmly while gathering information and suggesting appropriate methods of standing up for one’s self as a fundamental right. Check your school policies for guidance. You and your classroom can serve as a “safe zone” with zero tolerance for bullying.
Discuss Bullying with Your Class (Thursday)
Implement changes in attitudes and behaviors through class meetings. Use a thought-provoking questionnaire as a spring-board for students to evaluate feelings about themselves, their relationships with peers, and bullying. Conduct meetings to help students identify with the emotions of bullied victims. Encourage role playing to practice how peers can help a victim or ways to intervene. Discuss the destructive consequences of bullying.
Create Programs that Prevent Bullying (Friday)
Expand bully prevention initiatives school-wide. Efforts to prevent bullying are efforts toward reducing school violence. Strides toward changing a school’s social climate and norms of behavior require commitment and effort from all staff. Setting high standards for students, as well as teachers, is a start. Effective programs include the rewarding of pro-social behaviors, creating a peer-support and mediation group, and developing an anonymous means of reporting acts of bullying. Additional intervention requires a system of documenting incidents with follow-up counseling for aggressive students.