Bullying is a huge problem in schools, and coping with bullying is not only hard for students, but for parents and educators as well. It is important for everyone to understand how to recognize bullying, and how to move forward with making sure it stops. We have put a list together to help get you started.
1. Bullying starts early, and so must prevention
The roots of bullying go back to elementary school. Because it starts early, it appears as normal behavior by the time students reach the higher grades. For that reason, realize that monitoring young students for bullying prevention must begin early.
2. Nip bullying in the bud
Recognizing “gateway” behavior that will eventually lead to blatant bullying and stopping it before it escalates is important strategy for preventing bullying. Allowing small incidents of disrespectful behavior makes increasingly more significant incidents difficult to recognize and stop. Set the bar high and make it clear that disrespectful behavior aimed at each other is also disrespectful of you.
3. Provide positive reinforcement
Acknowledging good behavior is as important as intervening in bad behavior. When children show a particularly friendly or patient attitude, let them know that their behavior has not gone unnoticed and praise them for their maturity.
4. Recognize that “responding” and “reporting” are both important
It is important to know what behaviors you are required to report but your responsibility does not stop there. Be proactive; don’t wait for behavior to reach the point of becoming reportable in nature. Acknowledge and discourage any bullying behavior. When such behavior goes unchallenged, it is seen as an endorsement by both the perpetrator and the victim.
5. Realize the power of the “Rumor Mill”
Be on the lookout for rumors. This old-fashioned means of bullying is as effective as ever and only made easier by technology.
6. Remember that they are cyber savvy
Today’s students are comfortable with technology – more so than many teachers – but although they are technologically adept, they are still children. They do not have the life experience to make smart choices when dealing with online interaction. Do not let your own lack of computer confidence stand in the way of providing students with the necessary guidance.
7. Talk to students about handling anger
Children often feel trashing someone online is the best way to express their anger. It is easier for them to vent electronically because it feels safer than a face-to face confrontation. They have difficulty understanding that this cyber version of talking behind someone’s back does not address the problem they are having with the other party, but may needlessly escalate the situation.
8. Be on the lookout for girl on girl bullying
Girls by nature are more likely to form long-term emotional attachments to other girls. Friendships formed by females are deeper and provide more emotional support than those formed by males. Unfortunately, girls are also more likely to bully those within their own social circle than are boys. Girls need bullying prevention to keep them from destroying these social bonds.
9. Develop a relationship built on trust
Children need to know that as an adult, and an authority figure, you have their best interest at heart and that you will take what they tell you seriously. For them, “tattling” is a risk; they need to know that you can be trusted to provide appropriate help and not make matters worse or ignore the situation.
10. Make bullying prevention a joint effort
Develop a group mentality that recognizes and opposes bullying. Discuss instances of bullying, why bullying occurs and what can be done to prevent it.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.