It may be a hard truth to admit, but the likelihood that bullying is occurring in your school is high. It may not always be seen, but it is happening and it’s up to everyone within the building to take note and do something about it.
Understanding What Bullying Can Look Like Now
Bullying isn’t just limited to name-calling in the hallways anymore, it’s been taken online or can get brought in from off-campus now. Cyberbullying can consist of spreading lies online, sharing embarrassing photos, threatening, or creating fake accounts to harass another individual.
Being aware of a student’s baseline of behavior can prevent this abuse from continuing by taking notice of any changes your student may be experiencing. If you see that your student’s behavior, energy levels, or mood begins to shift, it may be time to begin the conversation to see what the cause is behind such a shift for them.
Talk About the Effects of Bullying Openly
The sooner the conversation begins around bullying within your school, the better. Students need to know that they can trust their teachers and administrators to understand how to recognize bullying and that a safe space is being created where they can come to staff if they are experiencing bullying.
This conversation shouldn’t be one-and-done either, this should be ongoing as staff check-in with their students and should occur by multiple adults within their life as well.
For more ways to talk about bullying, stopbullying.gov has some incredible resources on how to get this conversation started.
Have a Clear Plan of Action Against Bullying
Once you have begun the conversation around anti-bullying, the next step is to back it up with action. Your students should be aware of the consequences that will occur if they are to bully a peer, as well as the victim of bullying must also have a plan of recovery. What specific steps will your school and administration take if they discover a bully, and how will you protect the victim from any further trauma? Take the following questions into account when creating policy and this plan:
- What are the levels of disciplinary action for the student being a bully?
- What happens if this is a continued offender?
- If they are cyberbullying, what authorities need to be notified, and at what level?
- What are the spaces within our school that a victim of bullying can go to?
- What is our Victim Recovery Plan to help alleviate the trauma from abuse that was experienced by the student?
- How can you best support the victim of bullying to return to normal learning?
Each of these questions allows you to be prepared if and when bullying occurs at your school.
If You See Something, Say Something.
Having policies in place to prevent bullying is one thing, but having an overarching understanding of “If you see something, say something” between both the staff and students is one of the easiest ways to begin to combat bullying within your school. This understanding creates a safe space for anyone to acknowledge that bullying is happening and opens the door for something to be done about it.
Create a Culture of Anti-Bullying and Kindness
One of the best ways to combat anti-bullying long-term at your school is to create a culture of anti-bullying and kindness. In doing so you’ll not only gain both student and teacher buy-in for your anti-bullying initiative, but you’ll also replace any negativity that could breed bullying with kindness and gratitude. Showing a small token of appreciation such as stickers of affirmation or giving a compliment can completely change a student’s day while instilling trust throughout the building.
It Takes Work
Ongoing, any anti-bullying campaign is going to take work, even beyond this month of awareness. Raising our level of awareness can only take us so far, as teachers and administrators, it's going to be an ongoing conversation around what bullying is and howto prevent it, as well as an ongoing effort to keep it out of the building. At Dude. Be Nice. we continue to bring you resources to help with these topics throughout the entire school year to create the best community for learning possible. Don’t give up, your students need you, and we are here to support you!