Bully prevention is about being informed and sharing information with others. Bullying of students can occur almost anywhere but takes different forms depending on the location. An organization called Intervention Central discussed this idea in Locations: Transforming Schools from Bully-havens to Safe-havens. A lot depends on set and setting. Let’s examine a few areas where bullying often occurs and note suggestions for those environments.
Bully Prevention: Walking to School
Bullying may occur when walking to school. Alternatives are, for the bullied student to take another route to avoid such encounters or use another method to get to school. If neither of those are possible or do not improve the situation, then the solution may require an adult to accompany the student on the walk to school. In this way, the adult may identify the bully or bullies, which helps to stop them.
Bully Prevention: On the Bus
Because bus drivers have to pay close attention to the road as well as drive the bus safely, they are hard-pressed to monitor all the actions of the students on a bus. Some schools added additional adult monitors on the bus. Modern school systems also benefit from video surveillance on the buses that creates a record of any bullying actions. Then the parents of those students who are bullying the others, may be held responsible. If the bus is not equipped with video surveillance, we know of one case where the parents successfully engaged the help of another student who recorded the bullying actions of the other students by video on her mobile phone, which was then used as evidence.
Bully Prevention: In the Hallways
There is a lot of noise and fast movement in the hallways which gives students ample opportunities to cover their bullying actions. Adult supervision, enhanced by video surveillance of the hallways, is an excellent way to record, document, and expose such behaviors which allow appropriate actions to be taken and the offenders to be caught and punished.
Bully Prevention: In Class
One common bullying technique is when the bully demands another student to allow them to copy their answers during exams, essentially forcing the bullied student into cheating. A perfect match of the exact same answers on a test taken by two different students, who sat next to each other, is one way to begin an investigation to see if someone is being bullied into cheating. Teachers can prevent this by paying close attention to the actions of the students, when exams are being given, and physically relocating any student that appears to be copying off the others.
Bully Prevention: During Gym
Because of the differences in physical size and physical abilities, gym is an environment that is ripe for bullying to occur. The stereotypical image of a coach yelling at the students is actually a style that perpetuates bullying. A modern coach needs to know very clearly the difference between motivation and bullying to set a good example for the students to follow, otherwise it encourages the students to bully each other, especially in the locker room. The difference between motivation and bullying sometimes boils down to the use of a different phrase such as “Student A, I know you can do better than that” which is encouragement as opposed to “Student A, why are you always so lame?” which is bullying, especially if the coach picks on the same student over and over in front of the others. The coach needs to be a good role model.
Bully Prevention: On the School Grounds
Experts suggest that teachers take tours of the school with their students so the students can point out areas where bullying is likely to occur. Bullying needs to be taken very seriously by students, teachers, administrators, coaches, and parents. The problem is so pervasive that teachers should give lessons about bullying that make use of situation examples and role-play. Bully prevention includes the ABC system where the “A” stands for ask for help if you are being bullied, “B” for be aware of bullying, and “C” call out if you or someone else is being bullied. Students are encouraged not to just stand-by silently when they see bullying occur, but to shout out “Stop” when they are witness to a bullying attack. This can be trained, using role-playing examples, where students all yell “Stop” when a bullying event is occurring, so they will not stand alone or fear reprisal if they intervene. Teachers are then well advised to take immediate action upon hearing that “Stop” word yelled out anywhere on the school grounds.
Bully prevention is an on-going effort that succeeds by sharing information and taking appropriate actions combined with a zero tolerance of bullying amongst faculty, staff, students, and their parents.