Bullying is a problem that is gaining attention for the serious immediate and long term consequences it can have on kids. Bullying includes, but is not limited to:
The act of bullying is done on purpose, and often is repeated over time. As adults, sometimes it is hard to understand the severity of bullying. Adults may see bullying as harmless teasing and not realize how serious and hurtful the situation can be. The first step to putting an end to bullying is for adults to recognize the severity of bullying.
You should care about the bullying in your school for many reasons. First of all, bullying can severely harm everyone involved. Bullying causes many serious problems to those involved, such as: depression, insomnia, physical harm (and physical health issues like headaches and stomach problems), loneliness/anxiety/suicidal thoughts, poor academic performance, poor social skills, and increased risk of negative mental and physical health as an adult.
Futhermore, in 2009 the North Carolina Legislature passed The School Violence Prevention Act, which states that any public school in the state of North Carolina is required to have and enforce a strict anti-bullying policy. Because bullying is so serious, the law requires schools to have programs that will help stop current bullying, and prevent bullying from happening in the future.
There are many ways that schools can learn to intervene current bullying and prevent future bullying. Below are the top strategies and best practices for preventing bullying in your school.
In order to minimize bullying at your school, the environment must reflect social norms that align with that goal. As a school staff member, you have the ability to influence the overall attitude towards bullying. By working as a team, the school staff can create an environment where bullying is not the ‘cool thing,’ and helping others is. The environment should be friendly, and inclusive to all students.
Many adults are surprised to discover the amount of bullying that occurs at their school. Bullying often occurs when no adults are present, and therefore the severity and extent is not always realized. One of the best ways to assess bullying at your school is to have students fill out an anonymous survey regarding bullying. The survey should ask about the school environment, frequency of bullying, and common locations for bullying. This will be an extremely valuable and helpful tool to help vastly reduce bullying at your school. Responses to this survey will inform school staff of the degree of the problem, the areas and times it happens the most, increase knowledge about how best to intervene, and serve as a baseline measurement to assess progress later on.
The best and most successful bullying prevention measures, will be the responsibility and work of parents and school staff. This is an issue that affects everyone and teamwork is necessary to make bullying stop!
Create a group to lead the bullying prevention program and represents the school. This could consist of any adults that work at the school, parents, or other school stakeholders. This group should meet regularly; discuss bullying at the school; review successful bullying programs; inform students, teachers, and administrators of bullying policies and prevention strategies; and create a sustainable network of bullying prevention.
Provide training to all school administrators, teachers, parents, and children about bullying. Educate them on what bullying is, what to do when being bullied, how to tell an adult about a bully, and how to protect one’s self or others from a bully. Emphasize bullying prevention and intervention while training school staff, and be sure they are well educated in this area.
This year, the North Carolina legislature passed the School Violence and Prevention Act, making it a law that all public schools have strong policies on bullying prevention. These policies must prevent harassment and bullying against anyone and more specifically prevent bullying due to race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, physical appearance, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory disability, or because of a connection with a person who has or thought to have one or more of these characteristics.
Make all the school policies as clear as can be. Post them around the school and make them visible to everyone. If you expect students to follow a strong policy on this subject, then it is the school’s responsibility to make the policies easy to understand and follow.
After doing a school bullying assessment, it will become clear where and when bullying goes on. More likely than not, a lot of it is occurring in a place where no adults are present. Be sure to create a continual adult presence in the areas where bullying most often occurs.
If there is bullying of any kind going on, an adult should always intervene. All school staff should be trained in successful on-the-spot intervention methods to immediately stop the bullying.
Staff should be trained on how to meet with students. After any bullying incident, they should meet with the students individually (the child bullied and the one doing the bullying), and provide the proper support and guidance to all parties.
Have regularly class-time where bullying prevention methods are discussed. Allow students to openly discuss bullying in the school and share concerns with the teachers. Talk to students about school bullying policies and give them options to become more active in bullying prevention.
Be sure to create bullying programs that will to continue to function. Bullying prevention and intervention policies and programs must be built into a school’s structure so it becomes a part of the school and will be maintained.
The best practices above were adapted from Welcoming Schools.