Monday, May 21, 2012
Although research into bullying prevention is still relatively new, a review of existing bullying prevention programs and feedback from educators in the field have identified ten strategies that represent “best practices” in bullying prevention and intervention.
- Focus on the school environment. To reduce bullying, it is important to change the climate of the school and the social norms with regard to bullying. It must become “uncool” to bully, “cool” to help out students who are bullied, and normal for staff and students to notice when a child is bullied or left out.
- Assess bullying at your school. Often, adults are not very accurate when estimating the nature and extent of bullying at their school. For this reason, it is most helpful to administer an anonymous survey to the students in your school. This will show you how prevalent bullying and its forms are at your school.
- Garner staff and parent support for bullying prevention. Bullying prevention is most effective when the entire school community, from the bus drivers to the teachers to the parents, is on board.
- Form a group to coordinate the school’s bullying prevention activities. Bullying prevention efforts seem to work best if they are coordinated by a representative group from the school. This coordinating team (which might include an administrator, a teacher from each grade, a member of the non-teaching staff, a school counselor or other school-based mental health professional, a school nurse, and a parent) should meet regularly to discuss data from the school survey.
- Train your staff in bullying prevention. All administrators, faculty, and staff at your school should be trained in bullying prevention and intervention. In-service training can help staff to better understand the nature of bullying and its effects, how to respond if they observe bullying, and how to work with others at the school to help prevent bullying from occurring.
- Establish and enforce school rules and policies related to bullying. Although many school policies and procedures prohibit bullying, they don’t clarify expectations for bullying behavior. Developing simple, clear rules about bullying can help to ensure that students are aware of adults’ expectations that they refrain from bullying and help students who are bullied.
- Increase adult supervision in hot spots where bullying occurs. Bullying tends to thrive in locations where adults are not present or are not attentive. Once school personnel have identified hot spots for bullying from the student surveys, look for creative ways to increase adults’ presence in these locations.
- Intervene consistently and appropriately in bullying situations. All staff should be able to intervene effectively on the spot to stop bullying. Designated staff should also hold separate sensitive follow-up meetings for the child who is bullied and the child who bullies.
- Focus class time on bullying prevention. It is important that bullying prevention programs include a classroom component. Teachers should set aside 20-30 minutes each week to discuss bullying and peer relations with students. Bullying prevention is most effective with students when it is integrated into their classroom time.
- Continue these efforts over time. There should be no end date for bullying prevention efforts. Bullying prevention should be woven into the entire school environment.
By following these ten strategies identified as “best practices” in bullying prevention, you will be well on your way to reducing bullying at your school and providing a save, supportive learning environment for your students.