Bullying is an ever-present problem in our schools, and can include physical threats, teasing, and harassment (National Association of School Psychologists). It is estimated that between 15 % and 30% of all students are either bullies or victims. Cyberbullying occurs when a child, preteen, or teen is bullied by another child, preteen, or teen using the Internet, or any interactive digital technology (www.stopcyberbullying.org). As episodes of bullying and cyberbullying escalate, many teachers are unsure how to approach the problem.
What Can Teachers Do to Reduce Future Occurrences of Bullying?
The following tips are adapted from Dropout Prevention Fieldbook: Best Practices from the Field and 152 Ways to Keep Students in School: Effective, Easy-to-Implement Tips for Teachers, by Franklin Schargel.
1 – Discuss Bullying: Give students the opportunity to discuss bullying. Have the class come up with rules against bullying and involve them in determining that bullying behavior is unacceptable. Provide classroom activities and discussion opportunities related to bullying and violence, including the harm they cause and strategies to reduce their incidence.
2 – Teach Cooperation: Teach cooperation by assigning projects that require collaboration. Such cooperation teaches students how to compromise and how to assert without demanding. Take care to vary grouping of participants and to monitor the treatment of and by participants in each group.
3 – Develop a Plan: Develop a classroom action plan to ensure that students know what to do when they observe a bully-victim confrontation.
4 – Take Immediate Action: Take immediate action when bullying is observed. All teachers and school staff must let children know they care and will not allow anyone to be mistreated. By taking immediate action and dealing directly with the bully, adults support both the victim and the witnesses.
5 – Confront in Private: Confront bullies in private. Challenging bullies in front of their peers may actually enhance their status and lead to further aggression.
6 – Involve Parents: Notify parents of both victims and bullies when a confrontation occurs. Listen receptively to parents who report bullying, and investigate reported circumstances so appropriate school action may be taken.
For more ideas on how to combat bullying and cyberbullying in your classroom, check out these useful links:
National Education Association (NEA) - Bully Free: It Starts With Me
Stop Bullying Now!
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – See a Bully, Stop a Bully: Make a Difference
National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) – Bullying Resources
PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center
What techniques and strategies have helped you combat bullying in your classroom? Have you developed a working action plan or classroom project to address and discuss bullying? Let us know in the comments section below!