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Ways To Help Reduce Bullying In Schools

Collins Ndlovu:

Have a Clear Definition of Bullying.

Bullying occurs at all grade levels. An entire school district needs to have the same language within all its schools in order to reduce bullying. To start, the schools need to have a common definition of bullying. CPI defines bullying  as being characterized by intentionally aggressive behavior that involves an imbalance of power and strength.

Remove Labels: Address Behaviors.

When teachers and staff call a child a bully or a victim, they place a judgment on that child, which can then cause problems in the future for that student.

When addressing students’ behavior, be nonjudgmental. First, find out what happened before deciding whether or not the incident qualifies as bullying. Looking at the specific behaviors that occurred is important so that they can be addressed at a later time. Keep in mind that each student involved in a situation comes from different circumstances. Everyone has baggage. There may be a reason that the child who engages in bullying behavior is acting this way. To fix the problem, involve the student who is doing the bullying. She needs to know what her actions are doing to the student she’s bullying.

Reward Positive Behavior.

When a student does something bad, it’s easy to point it out, especially if the student always seems to be in trouble. What if you caught him doing something good? Would you point it out? Wright (2012) came up with the “Good Behavior Game” in which good classroom behaviors are rewarded during the instructional time of day.

Not many people choose to reinforce good behavior because good behavior is expected. This is a problem. When a child is always getting into trouble, then “catching them being good” is positive and reinforcing (Mahoney, 2012). Pointing out the good behavior acknowledges and reinforces that behavior. This way the student will be more likely to engage in the positive behavior again. Just like setting clear rules and enforcing those rules, reinforcing good behavior will give students clear expectations about what you want in a positive way.

Have Open Communication.

Communication is key to building rapport. When teachers have open communication with their students, their students will feel more open to talking to them about their problems—including bullying.

Having classroom meetings is one way to build that communication. Classroom meetings provide a way for students to talk about school-related issues beyond academics (US Department of Health and Human Services). These meetings can help teachers and parents stay informed about what’s going on at the school and in the child’s life. Be sure to listen during these meetings. Empathic Listening is key.

Students want to know that they’re truly being listened to. They need to feel welcome to talk to their teachers one-on-one, especially if they feel they’ve been bullied. Keep in mind that as a target, a student might not want to say something in front of the whole class or if the bully is in the classroom meeting.

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