Stop Bullying Before It Starts
- Grades: 3–5
Teaching pro-social values and carefully monitoring students now will prevent bullying behavior later. The strategies in this blog post will ensure a bully-free school and help students learn social skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.
Take bullying seriously
— The damage bullies do can affect their targets in deep, long-lasting ways. It's not enough to punish bullies when incidents occur. What's required is a change in school climate and in the attitudes of all students and staff, particularly bystanders.
Be vigilant — Mobilize the entire school community to stop bullying. All staff and students need to be alert and prepared to stop a bullying incident. Pay special attention to hot spots like playgrounds, hallways, cafeterias, buses, and locker rooms.
Increase number of adults — Recruit parent volunteers, paraprofessionals, and administrators to assist teachers as they supervise students on the playground and in the cafeteria.
Keep a playground log — Designate an on-duty adult to carry a playground log and record incidents of bullying, exclusion, and isolation. A written record will give you data and help you see patterns of behavior over time. If you have to meet with parents, it's enlightening for them to see evidence, not just hear anecdotes.
Enlist bystanders — All students need to know they can and should stop bullies. Teach and practice a ready response for students to shout like, "NO! Stop it right now!" Students need to be encouraged to stop bullies and seek adult help. This is reporting, not tattling, and students need to be explicitly taught the difference.
Monitor at-risk students — A mentoring program is a simple, intentional way to monitor students who are emotionally and socially at risk of becoming targets or bullies. A school psychologist or guidance counselor in consultation with classroom teachers creates a list of at-risk students. This list of names is divided among all staff members, who agree to touch base with these students on a daily basis. This daily check-in only takes a moment, but helps students build connections with caring adults. When students feel genuinely cared for, they are less likely to become targets or bullies.
Extra instruction for students who are socially challenged — Students with Asperger's Syndrome or other disabilities may need extra, explicit instruction in reading social cues and behaving like their age-typical peers.
Teach through literature — A book does not have to have bully in the title to be about bullying. In fact it's more effective when this topic can be woven into literature students read or their teacher reads aloud. As students read and discuss literature with their teacher, they will have opportunities to talk about characteristics of bullies and targets such as poor self-image, anxiety, and insecurity.
What are your anti-bullying strategies? I hope you'll share them here on Top Teaching.