Bullying is often a bigger problem than we think. Each year, over 3.2 million students are victimized by bullies and 71% of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school. Bullying is harmful for everyone involved. We know that through effective bullying intervention strategies, it’s possible to limit bullying. What are some of those strategies? Read on to find out.
What is bullying?
In 2017, bullying is not simply stealing someone’s lunch money or shoving another student into a locker. There are many different types of bullying, most of which can be grouped into 3 main categories: physical, verbal, and cyberbullying.
How to (try to) prevent bullying in the classroom
Unfortunately, bullying is going to happen. But there are some ways that we can proactively address the behaviors that lead up to it.
Give students the skills they need to communicate, cope, and build resilience.
This includes teaching social emotional skills such as empathy, impulse control and communication skills. These skills can help prevent situations from turning into bullying, and are also crucial when bullying is happening. Students who are bullied can learn to advocate for themselves in an appropriate manner, and those who bully, over time, can learn to empathize with their peers as well as control their impulses.
Teach students about peer mediation and conflict resolution, which we know are skills that will benefit them now and in the future. Finally, it’s important to get parents involved. Schedule parent conferences or host workshops so parents can learn about “red flag” behaviors and how they can model and reinforce crucial social emotional skills at home.
How to intervene when you identify (or presume) bullying
Until students have been given the skills to manage conflict independently or know how to communicate bullying concerns, educators should intervene. Look out for signs that bullying may be occurring as these incidents should never go unaddressed.
Make a plan for intervening and investigating incidents.
The first step is to separate the victim and the bully. The victim should be tended to first, then the bully. Identify the behavior and re-establish the ground rules of acceptable behavior. If there is a pattern present, identify if further intervention is needed. Keep an eye on the students involved and notify the parents.
Determine the motivations behind the behavior.
Determine the underlying cause of the behavior. You may need to focus on the culture of a specific group of friends and address the way they interact. Look for signs of other underlying causes such as depression, anxiety or a traumatic home situation.
Reinforce alternative behaviors.
Ask the bully to think about other events and emotions that led up to the event. Help them identify emotional management strategies that could have been used and how they can respond to similar situations in the future.
Work with parents.
We know that students model behaviors that they see at home.. Educating parents on new bullying intervention strategies and skills to avoid behaviors associated with bullying can have a major impact. A counseling recommendation in certain situations may be appropriate.
Address tech and social media.
Cyber-bullying is hard to identify, to intervene and to prevent because it can be anonymous and untraceable. Parents and educators should do their best to monitor children’s online activity. More importantly, digital citizenship should be incorporated within the technology and classroom curriculum so students understand how to safely interact with others online.
With a sustained effort in implementing the interventions mentioned above, schools can be successful in preventing and mitigating bullying. This has a clear positive impact on both the lives of individual students, and overall school culture.
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