School officials and teachers are accountable for the protection of our children while they are under their care. It is their responsibility to handle volatile situations, including those that include bullies, in such a manner so that our children feel safe. Schools are designed for learning. It’s agreed that lessons come in many forms, both in and out of the classroom. While students are there to learn, they are not there to be abused or ridiculed for the amusement of others. School officials and teachers can take steps to prevent bullying and other forms of abuse incurred by their students.
How to prevent Bullying: Develop a Zero-Tolerance Policy – Developing and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on abuse and bullying is just the first step. Making sure each of the guidelines are being followed and the safety of all students is assured is of the utmost importance in maintaining a positive learning environment. Students who violate the zero-tolerance policy on bullying could face immediate suspension or expulsion depending on the severity of the event.
Anti-bullying programs created by the government and other organizations can be used to raise awareness of the problems bullying presents within our schools. Let the school paper publish an article about bullying that details what will happen to students if it is proven they have bullied or abused a classmate. Raising awareness of all aspects of the situation will help reduce the instances of it happening again.
How to prevent Bullying: Educate Teachers on What to Look For – School officials and teachers must be able to recognize the signs of abuse. Students who are continually being bullied, will often exhibit a variety of symptoms. Their grades may begin to fall. They may fall asleep in class or seem overly distracted or nervous. They may be overly emotional or suffer from panic attacks. Bruises, cuts and scrapes are physical signs that a student may be involved in fighting or defending themselves from an attacker.
If a teacher suspects a student is being bullied, they can ask the student what is happening. If the answers don’t make sense or if the student refuses to talk, it might be in the school’s best interest to bring in a professional counselor who can help get to the bottom of the situation. Give the student the resources and the security to help resolve the issue while still feeling safe. Many students who are bullied refuse to talk to their teachers or parents for fear that the bullying may get worse.
How to prevent Bullying: Foster a Positive Environment – One of the most beneficial things a school can do is foster a positive learning environment. Let it be known the school is a safe haven for each student. If a student feels threatened or afraid of another student, or has witnessed something they feel needs to be reported, they should be allowed to speak to a teacher or school official. Offer counseling to both parties. Bring in the parents and see if you have any resources that could benefit them as well.
It should also be stressed that schools are places to learn. If a student has an issue with one of their peers, it should be brought to the attention of the counselors and teachers so it can be worked out in a safe and efficient manner. In a positive environment, prevention is the key. Stopping unpleasant situations before they start or get out of control is important to maintain a positive atmosphere.
How to prevent Bullying: Deal With Each Student on an Individual Basis – Each student is unique and should be dealt with on an individual basis. Both the victim and the abuser have stories to tell. Listening to each one closely can help you discover why certain events have occurred. Taking each student on their own merit is a good way to begin to resolve any conflict that may be present between them. While not all problems can be solved, learning as much as you can from each and making an attempt can bring both parties together. Even if they agree to disagree, progress has been made if it resolves the bullying issue.
How to prevent Bullying: Deal With Bystanders Accordingly – In cases where crowds of bystanders have influenced the outcome of an event, they should be dealt with accordingly. Students who stand by and do nothing or, in an even worse scenario, encourage the abuser to continue harming the victim, can be considered to be just as guilty as the individual performing the act. In a school setting, punishment can range from in-school detention to expulsion depending on the severity of the event.
Students should be encouraged to do the right thing and prevent one student from bullying another. While one student may be afraid to face the bully alone, several students can make a dramatic impression. If you witness a student being abused, stand up and gather some friends. If a group confronts the abuser, they are more likely to back away from the situation. Reach out to the victim and let them know you aren’t going to let them be put in harm’s way again. To be safe, all incidents must be reported to the principal or a teacher immediately after it occurs.
How to prevent Bullying: Take Immediate Action – If a teacher who witnesses a student being bullied, they should never ignore the situation. Depending on the situation, ask another teacher to go with you. Don’t wait until the incident is over. If you confront the abuser as the event is occurring there is little doubt about who or what was involved in the situation. Never leave the scene until you are sure things are back under control.
How to prevent Bullying: Report any instance of abuse, bullying or reports of bullying to the principal of the school. Sometimes reports of cyber bullying may be given to teachers. Don’t let this type of bullying go unchallenged either. If a student has documentation to back up there claims, they should be instructed to print them off and deliver them to the principal or another school official so the situation can be taken care of accordingly.
How to prevent Bullying: Don’t Ignore, Investigate – Never ignore a report of bullying. If you have the name of a victim or that of the bully, talk to each one and get their side of the story. It could have been a misunderstanding. If you the answers you get don’t seem to fit the situation, talk to possible eyewitnesses or friends of the victim. Keep a close watch on all parties involved for a few days to determine if there is any unresolved hostilities between them.
Monitoring students’ behavior and activities may seem like an intrusion of privacy. You don’t need to delve into their personal lives to determine whether or not they are being bullied. Even if the events are well hidden, the results won’t be. Their grades, attitude, emotional state and physical condition can all provide signs if the teacher is willing to take notice of them.
As an educator, your goal is to teach. During that process, teachers want to ensure their students can make the most of their time in class. Protecting them from negative influences such as bullying and abuse is part of the equation. Creating an environment where students feel safe allows them to learn and grow. If a teacher is truly good at their job, they will be able to reach out to the bully as well, possibly giving them a chance to resolve their issues and become a productive student.