Let me begin this blog saying that bullying is an unacceptable behavior that adults and students have a responsibility to stop. It’s incredibly important that schools must have clear and comprehensive prevention practices/policies that address all forms of bullying and/or harassment. I know October was Bullying Prevention Month, but I wanted to speak upon this topic more than just within the confines of one month.
Bullying is so detrimental because it can negatively impact the learning environment as well as threaten a students’ physical and emotional safety at school. Truthfully, the best way to address bullying is to stop it before it starts. I know the bullies can be sneaky in their bullying, but school staff have the capacity to deter this negative behavior.
Training school staff and students to prevent and address bullying can help sustain bullying prevention efforts over time, as noted from the StopBullying.gov website. By helping staff and students be aware of the potential dangers of bullying, it should decrease the incidents of this happening. Truthfully, some children don’t realize their words or actions can be classified as bullying. At the end of the day, they key is to:
- Make sure all students feel safe at school and in their learning environment.
- Make sure students understand the difference between teasing vs bullying as well as tattling vs reporting. You want students to clearly understand what bullying is and why it’s a form of abuse.
- Help students realize that if they are being bullied, they are not alone and they are not powerless to stop it.
- Allow students to help take ownership for the well-being of themselves as well as others. Empathy and positive support for each other is a great means to preventing bullying.
Although formal programs, such as PBIS, are great way to implement a school wide program, it’s not always necessary. Individual classrooms can incorporate anti-bullying lessons into their formal lessons fairly easily. Examples of such activities could include:
- Creative writing pieces incorporating bullying and its prevention.
- Poems or other artistic works.
- Research, such as looking up types of bullying, how to prevent it, and how kids should respond. This could be a library activity or an internet research activity.
- Presentations on how to stop bullying.
- Discussions about topics like how to stop bullying or how to handle a bully.
- Classroom meetings to talk about peer relations, social interactions, etc.
Author: Kelly Dale, School Psychologist