Setting the stage for responding to bullying:
First, it is important to acknowledge that students rarely bully victims in front of an adult. The chance of a teacher observing bullying is limited. Furthermore, research indicates that only 56% of students report that they have personally observed bullying at school. Therefore, since it is unlikely you will observe a bullying incident first hand, and because so few bullying incidents are reported by students, it is a given fact that children are being bullied at school.
The best approach to prevent bullying is to implement a school wide program, with administrators, parents, staff, students and community all working together toward the same goal, a great school where students feel safe to learn.
Prior to implementing a school wide push, the staff should evaluate the current bullying situation and identify any “hot spots” for bullying at school. Typical hotspots are the lunchroom, restrooms, and the playground. Evaluating the current situation can be accomplished through student interviews, an anonymous reporting box, or staff, student and parent surveys, etc.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has published a free set of assessment tools for measuring bullying and victimization, as well as perpetrator and bystander experiences.
Next the staff should meet to establish agreed upon consequences for bullying offenders. A set plan of action makes on-the-spot intervention more likely and will allow consistency in discipline. A progressive discipline approach might include warning, bullying report filed with office, note home to parents, loss of a privilege, detention, etc. Once a discipline system for bullying offenders has been developed, the next step is to develop or adopt your District Policy on Bullying.
Share the policy with students and staff and discuss the shared responsibility for keeping everyone safe at school. Ask students to report bullying.
Bullying prevention is best handled by being pro-active and, as in the case of any good school wide discipline plan, with for thought and planning.
Teaching students the definition of bullying is important so that bullying incidents are reported. More……………
A direct response to an observed bullying incident is covered in the remaining part of the article.