Strategies for Dealing with Bullying
By Barbara Simmons
Five years ago 16% of students reported being bullied. Today that number is one in three. The biggest factors: Use of technology, stress of economic changes on families, more students willing to report it – and schools deciding to pay more attention to it.
Prevention Efforts for Schools:
Preventive Curriculum is critical! We can’t just treat the symptom with Anti-Bullying Campaigns. We have to treat the root cause!
School Needs Assessment to be taken by students, staff and parents to determine the climate of school safety. This gives us information to help find solutions.
- Classroom Meetings (morning or afternoon) to develop community. This makes problem solving and heading off potential problems much easier.
- Town Meetings with each grade level (on a regular basis) to discuss school policy on bullying or other issues related to respect, kindness, etc.
- Ask students to define bullying
- Review policy and consequences. Make sure you follow through with the consequences! Often, students don’t feel as if the consequences are given out fairly.
- Students sign a pledge stating they will not bully.
- Training for all school staff, including playground/lunchroom aides and bus drivers for a minimum of 8-12 hrs. The training should be on handling conflict, recognizing bullying and strategies for dealing with the bully while in their care.
- Respecting Me, Respecting You – a bullying prevention program for 2nd and 3rd graders. Teaches emotional intelligence with a focus on empathy, compassion and becoming a ‘peaceable being’
- Peer Mediation for grades 3-12 (grade level to grade level, or older students mediating young students) playground, lunch, after school programs, or if serious enough
- Mandating Emotional & Social Intelligence learning in the classroom, beginning K through 12.
- Comprehensive approach in individual schools that include a Peace Team made up of parents, students, staff who work together for one to three years to address conflict & bullying that meets their communities needs.
- Evaluation of programming– pre and post tests to determine efficacy of the bullying prevention strategies– then be flexible and change the program when needed.
- Peer Mediators on school bus. This can help assist the bus driver, who needs to have his eyes on the road only.
- Parenting Programs and training so parents know how to respond and support their child.
- Support groups (in school) for children who witness/experience violence in the home.
- Dialogues on Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Disabilities, etc. (91% of middle school students experienced verbal harassment at school because of their sexual orientation)
- Anti-bullying policies in the school hand book – with consequences and parental signatures (Develop a policy that really takes on language such as: texting & electronics to read ‘This includes but is not limited to harassment, intimidation and bullying based upon race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, marital status, physical appearance, or mental, physical, or sensory disability’)
- Anti-bullying legislation
- Adults: we need to develop technology skills to understand and follow what our children are doing on Facebook, Myspace, Penquin, etc.
- Model what we teach! If we talk negatively about someone or another group, the example we set is what they will follow.
School Intervention Strategies for Addressing Bullying:
The Peace Center has dealt with more than 300 schools over the last two decades with the goal of implementing comprehensive programs to increase emotional and social safety thereby increasing academic achievement for all students, increase sensitivity to cultural differences, and problem solving approaches to conflicts and violence
- Provide support for the victim: don’t blame the victim or say they are ‘too sensitive’ or make light of it. You must treat the trauma through the full utilization of the guidance counselor or trauma specialist.
- Make sure there are consequences for the bullies. Schools often will say ‘we need proof’ of what they did. Don’t put the burden of proof on the victim! You can download Facebook pages to see what is taking place and you can engage the police to obtain phone records in order to read text messages from the bully’s phone made to the victim.
- Act quickly – these incidences can escalate in a very short period of time, doing a lot of damage along the way. Make use of tapes or cameras that may have caught the bullying behavior in action.
- Is it ripe or appropriate for Peer Mediation? Often, schools will put bullies and their victims in a room together to ‘talk it out’. This is not appropriate and can re-victimize the victim.
- Peace Circles is a process of small group meetings using a trained facilitator and ‘talking stick’ along with ground rules. Talking, sharing, resolving takes place over a one to two hour time frame.
- Restorative Justice processes can be used to bring healing, reconciliation and consequences decided on by the entire group. This must be led by a trained facilitator.
- Form a Peace Posse, which is a group of students who meet weekly to deal with bullying behavior through new ideas and strategies that pertain to that particular school environment. These are students who have been bullied as well as bystanders.
- Support groups for students who are bullied or feeling excluded from others
- Diversity Awareness lessons in each homeroom so that students begin to gain a deeper understanding of the ‘other’, which can help in the development of empathy.
- Report box in each hallway so students can anonymously let administration know of incidents taking place.
- Discipline vs. punishment. Suspension and detention don’t work and act as punishment. Discipline is learning how your actions have impacted someone.
- Ventures In Peace (The Peace Center) programs for middle or/and high schools: Groups of students work on anger management, communication, emotional and social stressors to develop coping and empowerment skills
- Diversity Task Force: team of parents, staff and students focused on developing culturally relevant lesson plans and events.
- Aides/ teachers present in the hallways during transition of classes to step in and interrupt bullying behavior the moment they see it.
- Schools and students can participate in an Appreciate Inquiry process that finds the positive things going on in the school and leads them towards solutions they develop to address a range of issues such as dating violence, bullying, conflict and racism.
© The Peace Center www.thepeacecenter.org