Prevent School Bullying:

Ten Ways to Prevent and Monitor School Bullying

Bullying in schools is not just a problem for its victims; it makes all students feel unsafe. Schools must make it clear that student safety is an essential part of their mission by sending a strong message that bullying will not be tolerated and enlisting the support of the students. To accomplish this schools can do the following:

1. Promote a climate of cooperation and caring. Schools can help deter bullying by encouraging acts of kindness and communicating values of cooperation and tolerance. Of course, the most effective way to foster a caring attitude in school is for school staff to model this behavior.

2. Survey the school about bullying. A survey of students, teachers, and parents may reveal how pervasive bullying is in the school. It may also indicate when and where students are being harassed.

3. Establish a clear anti-bullying policy. Make sure this policy is clearly communicated to staff, students, and parents.

4. Empower the silent majority to take action. Because the staff is not always present when bullying takes place, schools need to encourage students to report any incidents. This might be done at a school assembly. Tell students that reporting bullying is not the same as tattling on a student. Help them understand what it feels like to be teased and taunted, and make it clear that they are not to join in when they observe a child being bullied.

5. Make it safe for students to report bullying. School personnel must keep the names of students who report bullying anonymous. Until students feel confident that this will happen, bullying will go unreported and bullies will continue to thrive. The school might set up a box in classrooms or the main office where children can leave notes about incidents of bullying.

6. Be alert for signs that a student is being bullied. Possible indicators of bullying include a student's reluctance to come to school, his avoidance of school areas such as the playground, withdrawal from peers, unusual tearfulness or anxiety, difficulty focusing in class, and a decline in grades.

7. Take reports about bullying seriously and act quickly. Schools should follow up on all reports of bullying. Putting an immediate end to one child's hurting another is vital not only to protect the student but also to send a message to other students that bullying will not be tolerated.

8. Coach students being teased on how to respond. Teachers and guidance counselors may want to help a student being teased learn how to be assertive without being aggressive. A student being victimized by a bully needs to learn how to deflect the bully's taunting without provoking him or appearing upset.

9. Discipline students who bully. The purpose should be to deter the bully's aggressive behavior rather than to humiliate or embarrass him. In addition to insisting that the bully return any items taken from the victim, the principal might exclude him from places or activities where he has harassed other students.

10. Contact the parents of the bully. The school should consider meeting with the bully's parents to inform them of his actions and gain their support for changing his behavior. The student should be apprised of the school's course of action and be informed that his parents support the plan.

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