According to the American Federation of Teachers, “15-25 percent of American students are bullied with some frequency. The figure jumps to between 40 and 50 percent for cyberbullying.” Victims of bullying are likely to suffer from loneliness, anxiety, and depression (AFT). Students who are bullied also perform at lower academic levels than their peers (American Psychological Association).
It is important for educators to be part of the mission to combat bullying in schools. Here are some ways teachers can help prevent and fight bullying.
Maintain Consistent Classroom Management
To create a classroom environment of respect and responsibility, invite students to help establish classroom rules. Keep the expectations clear, simple, and explicit. Be consistent in enforcing the rules and follow through with consequences immediately.
Get the Entire Story
Be thorough in your “investigations.” Separately, talk to each student involved in the situation. Listen, don’t blame or assign labels. Hold all parties, including bystanders, accountable for their actions or lack of action.
Once you know the full story, take action immediately. If you don’t, you are sending the message to all involved that the behavior is acceptable.
Check up on students who have struggled with a bullying situation: victims, witnesses, AND bullies. Ongoing support of students who have been involved in a bullying situation can help minimize, or prevent, the effects of bullying in the future.
Create a Safe Classroom Environment
It is important to create a classroom environment that is welcoming, safe, and supportive. Students should be aware of your willingness to listen and help.
Be Aware of School and District Bullying Policies
Now is a great time to brush up on your district and school bullying policies and procedures. When you know the rules, you can feel confident implementing them.
Open Up the Lines of Communication
Consistent communication with parents and families is an important tool in bullying prevention. When students are aware that their parents are only an email or phone call away from their teacher, they are less likely to commit acts of bullying.
Conduct Lessons About Bullying
Class meetings are great time to bring up the topic of bullying and peer relationships. Expound on the topic by discussing bullying in pop culture (TV shows, movies, etc.). Have students describe the impacts of bullying and ways to solve the issues.
Get Other Teachers Involved
Bullying isn’t limited to just one classroom or area in a school building. With your colleagues, talk about the issues in your own classroom and listen to other teachers as they discuss their specific challenges. As a team, or building, you can identify the needs of specific students, or areas of the building, that may need additional supervision/monitoring.
Learn About It
Not quite sure what to do with a bully or how to speak to a victim? Seek out professional development or courses that will help you learn about bullying. There are also many free resources for teachers, like the APA bullying module for teachers listed in the resources below.
Start A Bully-Free Campaign
Start a Bully-Free Campaign at your school or within your community using NEA’s “10 Steps to Roll Out a Bully Free Campaign at Your School.”
Educate Staff and Students About Bullying from StopBullying.gov
Teaching Students to Prevent Bullying – a collection of anti-bullying lessons from the NEA
Bullying: A Module For Teachers – from the American Psychological Association
Webisodes for Kids from StopBullying.gov
Anti-Bullying Activities and Lesson Plans from EducationWorld.com