Teachers in today’s classrooms encounter bullying at a rising rate. According to a study cited by StopBullying.gov, 49 percent of students in grades 4 through 12 reported being bullied at least once in the previous month. When asked about bullying of two or more times, 23 percent of students felt they were bullied frequently. Bullying can range from physical to emotional. Children most at risk of being bullied include:
- Students with disabilities
- Students of a minority race
- Students from differing religious backgrounds
Most bullying takes place on school grounds and on the school bus. Bullying also occurs via cell phones and online.
What can teachers do about bullying?
An effective way to stop bullying behavior in schools is to step in; however, StopBullying.gov reports that only 20 to 30 percent of students who are bullied notify adults about the bullying. To encourage open dialogue, teachers can talk to students about how to stand up to kids who bully and how to help kids who are bullied.
When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time. – StopBullying.gov
Five steps to respond to bullying.
- Create a safe, supportive environment. Establish a culture of inclusion and respect that welcomes all students. Monitor bullying “hot spots” in and around the building and enlist the help of all school staff. Set a tone of respect in the classroom.
- Manage classrooms to prevent bullying. Develop rules with students so they set their own climate of respect and responsibility. Be sure to reinforce those rules by making expectations clear and keeping requests simple, direct and specific. Use one-on-one feedback.
- Find out what happened. Get the facts, keep separate the children involved, listen without blaming and don’t call the act “bullying” while you are trying to understand what happened.
- Stop bullying on the spot. Intervene immediately; however, do not shame the student who bullied or force him or her to apologize. Rather, remind the student that his or her actions will not be tolerated in your classroom.
- Support all children involved. It is not just the bullied or bully who is affected by the bad behavior. All kids involved in bullying can be affected just by witnessing the incident. Create an embracing culture of inclusion to acknowledge and welcome all students. A great forum for a bullying discussion is a classroom meeting. It can provide an open opportunity for students to talk about school-related issues beyond academics. These meetings can also help teachers stay informed about what is going on at school and help students feel safe and supported.
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