October is Bullying Prevention Month

The statistics for bullying are still shockingly high, despite a decrease in recent years. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a study indicated that in 2017, 20% of students aged 12-18 reported being bullied. The same study also found that 15% of students in high school reported being bullied electronically. This form of bullying, sometimes called cyberbullying, is a relatively new form of bullying that often happens outside of school hours or online where teachers don’t have access to view it, thus making it harder to witness or detect.

Teresa Draeger, Content Marketing Director at EducationDegree.com and her team created a brand new guidebook, How to Prevent Bullying in the Classroom. Bullying is a major issue in today’s society, and they are committed to taking measures and providing helpful information so that, one day, our students can feel safe going to school and empowered to stand up to bullies.

How to Prevent Bullying in the Classroom includes the most comprehensive and up-to-date information out there. You can find this guide here: https://educationdegree.com/articles/how-to-stop-bullying-in-the-classroom/

Here is a sample of what you will find in the guide:

Strategies for Addressing Bullying

Despite your best efforts, a bullying incident occurred. Now what? Here are some ways to remedy the problem.

  1. Respond to the incident immediately. It’s important to show your students that you will not tolerate any kind of bullying. Reacting as soon as you see it occurring is a good way to prevent the normalization of bullying. However, it’s natural for teachers to feel anxious or worried about how to respond to bullying. It can help if you come prepared with a plan for what to say if you do see bullying. For example, knowing that you will use the phrase, “Stop. We don’t do that at [school].” can be enough to overcome the initial hesitancy to respond. Regardless of the phrase you decide to use, it should be appropriate given the age of the students and short enough to not feel like a lecture.
  1. Speak with the targeted student privately. Try to get the whole story from them and wait to speak without interrupting. Display empathy and compassion, and make it clear that they are not at fault for the incident and that you are there to help them stop the bullying
  1. Speak with the student who bullied privately. Try to understand their side of things and why they targeted the other student. Often, students who bully do so for attention. For example, if they are able to make others laugh when they bully a student, it may make them feel valued or improve their social status. Make sure they own up to their actions and consider the perspective of the student who was targeted. Some might try to blame the target for causing the incident, but it’s your job to teach them why bullying is not the right way to handle the situation.
  1. Talk to the family of the student who was targeted. While the incident might not be severe enough to require a meeting with the family, it is important to touch base with them and let them know what occurred. Reassure them of your plan to prevent future bullying. It is also important to be mindful of how much information to share with families. For example, students who are being targeted because they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) may not want their family to know about their sexual identity. You should check with your principal about school and district policy in this area when necessary.
  1. Talk to thefamily of the student who bullied. As with the previous strategy, speaking to the family of the child involved can be beneficial in preventing a future incident. Have an honest conversation with the family about their child’s behavior and how you want to support their child. Partnering with the family of a student who bullies can help keep the family on your side and willing to work with you to improve their child’s behavior.
  1. Evaluate the context of the incident and determine if punishment is appropriate. Depending on age, grade level, history of bullying incidents, and incident severity, possible punishments could include removing access to preferred activities (for example, recess), or in the most severe cases, suspension and expulsion. It’s important to remember not to punish for punishments’ sake. As a teacher, you should think about how a punishment will help the student learn from their behavior or support the target in some way. For example, if one student wrote derogatory words on another students’ desk, a punishment may involve cleaning the desk until the words are no longer visible.
  1. Develop appropriate interventions for both students separately. Depending on how students respond to the bullying incident, you can consider some basic or more intensive interventions. For students who have been targeted, ask them what would make them feel safe. At the very least, you can keep a closer eye on the student who was targeted and the student who bullied. If more intensive supports are needed, you can reach out to your school’s counselor or school psychologist. With family permission, students may be able to join a social skills group or receive other supports depending on their needs.
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