As an educator, you have a responsibility to create a safe environment for students to learn. October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. We encourage you to work together with other educators, your students, parents, and community members to help stop bullying and cyberbullying. For more information about bullying prevention, visit www.stopbullying.gov.
Create a school-wide code of conduct
Reinforce school values and clearly define unacceptable behavior and its consequences. These rules should be written in positive terms, be age appropriate, and be broad enough to cover multiple incidents. Make your staff and parents aware of your school policy on bullying and the consequences associated with students who do not abide by the set forth rules. Remind students, parents, and staff that these rules are in place to protect students and maintain a safe space for learning.
Start an anti-bullying pledge
At the beginning of the year, make students aware of school policies regarding bullying and ask students to have an open and honest conversation about their concerns. Ask your class to rewrite your school’s rules in their own words. Use these new rewritten rules to create an anti-bullying pledge for your class to sign and post it in your classroom where everyone can see it. As incidents occur, you can reflect back on the anti-bullying pledge and what was agreed upon as a class.
Look for warning signs
When bullying occurs, a student often has a change in attitude or behavior. These signs can include headaches, stomachaches, changes in eating habits, chronic tiredness, loss of friends, decreased self-esteem, decline in grades, interest in school or a particular subject, or increase in days missed. Remember, no child shows the same signs.
Clear the scene but take note of bystanders
Bystanders often encourage bullying. Locker rooms, hallways, cafeterias, school buses and playgrounds are areas where frequent bullying occurs. When an incident is occurring, immediately dispense the crowd and separate the involved parties to a private area. When appropriate, address bystanders and explain that this type of behavior will not be tolerated and remind them that they have a right and responsibility to stop bullying.
Deal with students individually
Talk with the individuals involved – including key bystanders – on an individual basis. Allow each individual to explain their side of the story privately where you can listen empathetically to their concerns and determine the appropriate consequences or outcomes. Follow up with students after any incident to make sure that the behavior has stopped and see if any further action if appropriate or needed.
Discuss bullying with other teachers
Bullying prevention is not a task you can go at alone. As a group, discuss your personal experiences with bullying and work together to share how you as a group can stomp out bullying. Together, you might find specific areas that need to be monitored more frequently, find that a specific student is showing signs of being bullied, or find a solution to end a particular situation. Together, you can help put an end to bullying in your school.