What Can Educators Do to Stop Bullying? Dr. Claudio V. Cerullo, President and Founder of Teach Antibullying, Inc.

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Bullying is a direct form of violence common among children. Bullying can be found in schools, neighborhoods, and homes throughout the United States. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice, bullying is frequently misunderstood by adults as an unavoidable part of growing up and, as a result, often occurs in the presence of adults who fail to do anything about it. The focus of this article is about bullying at school and what can be done about it.

Bullying affects a school and students in many ways. Bullying has a negative effect on the social environment of a school and creates an atmosphere of fear among students. Bullying also reduces students’ abilities to learn. A child who bullies is also more likely to engage in other negative behavior (such as stealing and taking drugs). More than 47 percent of U.S. school children said that they had been bullied by other students during a school term. A recent 2011 bullying survey, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, included 26,686 students in grades six through twelve in public, parochial, and private schools throughout the United States. Our researchers found that bullying occurred most frequently in sixth through eighth grades, with little variation between urban, suburban, and rural areas. Boys were both more likely to bully others and more likely to be victims of bullying than were girls. In addition, males were more likely to say they had been bullied physically (being hit, slapped, pushed), while females more frequently said they were bullied verbally and psychologically (through sexual/racial comments or spreading rumors throughout the school or on a social media network. So what can educators do?

STRATEGIES FOR TEACHERS: Up to half of today’s children are victims of school bullying. Parents, educators, and students alike must work together to help stop bullying in their classrooms, playgrounds, and schools. The following strategies can help teachers and administrators to combat bullying in their schools. Plan and Make Consequences VERY Clear: An effective strategy for schools to reduce bullying is to have a policy outlining how teachers and school staff address the issue of bullying in the classroom and how incidents are dealt with after they have happened. All students need to be aware of the consequences of bullying. Safeguard and Protect Student Honesty: Students feel safe reporting bullying when teachers, administrators, and other school personnel respect the anonymity of the victim and/or reporting students.

Create a clear Bullying Policy and Vision: An effective strategy to reduce bullying is to create a school-wide policy that defines bullying, outlines how teachers and school staff should address the issue of bullying in the classroom, and delineates how incidents are to be dealt with after they occur. All students need to be aware of the consequences of bullying. The school policy must clearly define all forms of bullying behavior. Bullying behavior can be classified under four main headings: Physical Bullying, Verbal Bullying, Relational Bullying, and Sexual Harassment (Bullying). Many bullies try to pass off acts of aggression as roughhousing between friends, or just having fun. However, there is a difference between play and bullying. An episode of bullying has three identifying characteristics: A power difference between the individual being bullied and the bully. A negative intent on the part of the bully to hurt, embarrasses, or humiliates the other. Repeated behavior with others, with the same person, and/or with the same person over time.

Inclusion and Discussion: Involve all members of a school community including pupils, parents, teachers, and non-teaching staff in the formation of the bullying policy. Provide a range of opportunities for pupils to talk about bullying.

Adopt effective strategies: Effective strategies MUST include: No-blame approach: A step-by-step technique that allows early intervention because it does not require that anyone is proved to be at fault. A group of young people, which includes bystanders as well as possible bullies, is made aware of a victim’s distress and is asked to suggest solutions. This approach is particularly useful in dealing with group bullying and name-calling. Peer/buddy -support efforts: Mobilize students to take a stand against bullying behavior. Circle-time discussions for preschoolers: Bring students, teachers, and school professionals to address the issue of bullying, explore the effect of bullying on the school atmosphere, and brainstorm solutions when problems arise.

The Power of Student Body: Mobilize the masses of students who are neither victims nor bullies to take action against bullying. Students can take action in many different ways: Refusing to watch bullying, reporting bullying incidents, initiating conflict resolution strategies, using distraction with either the bully or the victim. The message here is to collaborate, as an educational community, while promoting a unified vision and mission for Anti-Bullying.

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