Topic 17: Bully Prevention
Bullying – exposing another person to either verbal or physical harm, or threatening to harm another person with the purpose of controlling the other person’s thoughts and/or actions (Throckmorton, 2005)
School bullying is when a student or group of students behave in a way that is intended to harm their victim. Three conditions allow bullying to take place: a person who has the will to hurt others, a potential victim, and opportunity (Wright 2003). It is hard to get a true measure of how many students are bullied because bullying is not always reported by the victims due to fear of retaliation.
There are two different types of bullying: direct and indirect.
1. Physically aggressive acts – pushing, kicking, punching, hitting, stealing
2. Verbal Aggression – Mocking, name calling, taunting and teasing, dirty looks, verbal threats
1. Social Alienation – gossiping, spreading rumors, humiliating, exclusion from activities, social rejection
According to Jim Wright there are four things that teacher must do to reduce bullying:
assess the extent of the bullying,
make sure the students understand what bullying is and why it is wrong, confront students who are bullying firmly and fairly,
have suitable consequences for bullying.
One suggestion for determining the extent of bullying is the use of observation in informal settings. Have outside staff members observe the student(s) or/and have students complete a questionnaire. There are also several suggestions for making sure students understand what bullying is such as conducting a class meeting or having individual conferences with students. It is vital that school staff inform students that bullying behaviors will not be tolerated and that they have a responsibility to report bullying that they have observed. If bullying behavior is witnessed by school staff it needs to be confronted and discussed with the offending student. Do not allow the student to blame the victim!
Another form of bully prevention focuses on educating potential victims on how to avoid becoming a target of bullying behavior. Victims of bullying may be reluctant to come forward about incidents of bullying. One way to combat this problem is to allow students to complete anonymous forms reporting bullying. Also carefully examine the schools daily schedule and look for time periods where bullying is most likely to occur and increase adult presence during those time periods. Finally, potential victims need to learn ways to stand up to the bullies and not allow themselves to become victims. Some suggestions are: don’t allow bullies to see you are upset, walk away from the situation, don’t allow the bullies to talk you into inappropriate behavior, and report the incidents of bullying to adults.
Strategies for Victims
1. Avoid bullies if possible
2. Tell adults about bullying
3. Be assertive and say things like “Stop it”, “Leave Me Alone”
4. Stay calm
5. Walk away
6. If you are in an area where bullying may happen surround yourself with a group of trusted friends
7. If in significant danger run
Use the witnesses of bullying as a prevention tool. Frequently students who observe bullying occurring will not intervene to stop the bullying, and will often begin to engage in the bullying behaviors themselves. Teachers need to inform students that they are also responsible for assisting in the prevention of bullying behaviors, and that if they witness it occurring they have a responsibility to intervene, and that they are also accountable for their behaviors. The witnesses need to understand that while they may not instigate the bullying, if they encourage the bully during the behaviors they are as guilty of bullying as the original bully. Finally, teachers need to focus on creating a bond between observers and victims of bullying so that students will feel sympathy for the victims and will want to care for them and support them.
Responsibility of the Bystander/Observer
2. Support the victim of bullying
3. Report the bullying to an adult if the victim won’t
4. Write down the bullying you have witnessed and the names of all student involved in the bullying
Strategies to Make a School Safer
1. Increase adult presence in the transition areas, hallways, stairways, and bathrooms, where bullying is most likely to occur
2. Keep older and younger children separated during times where there are less adults present and bullying is more likely to occur
3. Train all staff members how to handle bullying behavior and how to intervene when they witness bullying occurring
4. Arrange classroom furniture so that there are not areas where bullying can occur outside of the view of the teacher or another adult
Bully Prevention Material and Resources
• Committee for Children http://www.cfchildren.org/
• ERIC/CASS Bullying in schools http://ericcass.uncg.edu/virtuallib/bullying/bullyingbook.html
• No Bully http://www.nobully.org.nz/
• Preventing Bullying: A Manual for Schools & Communities www.cde.ca.gov/spbranch/ssp/bullymanual.htm
• The ABC’s of Bullying: Addressing, Blocking, and Curbing School Aggression (online course) http://pathwayscourses.samhsa.gov/bully/bully_intro_pg1.htm
• Bully Police http://www.bullypolice.org/
• Olweus Bullying Prevention Program www.clemson.edu/olweus
• “Preventing Classroom Bullying: What Teachers Can Do” by Jim Wright http://www.interventioncentral.org/
• Safe and Responsive Schools “Early Identification and Intervention: Bully Prevention”
• “Bully Prevention Information: Resources for Schools” by Warren Throckmorton