Schools Taking Action


What can schools do about bullying?

Schools can intervene effectively to reduce bullying by developing a safe and supportive school environment. A well-implemented program with parent, teacher, and community support can reduce bullying remarkably.

There are many things that schools can do to eliminate bullying and create a more positive atmosphere for the students. Teachers and principals can bring awareness and involvement on the part of adults with regard to bully-victim problems. A day could be scheduled for a conference devoted to bully-victim problems. Give generous praise for pro-social and helpful behavior by students. Create specific class rules against bullying and regular class meetings about anti-bullying. It would be a good idea to have serious individual talks with known bullies and victims. Also, talk with the parents of the bullies and victims.

Dealing with Bullying Incidents

Each school board has its own policies and procedures for dealing with discipline and violent issues. These policies and procedures should be reviewed with each staff member and students. This should be done as well as implementing school-wide prevention measures.

Here are some suggested steps for intervening in bullying situations.

Intervene immediately. Stop the bullying behavior as soon as you see it or become aware of it.

Talk to the bully and the victim separately. If more than one child is involved talk to each of them separately. This way each child will get their say in without feeling intimidated or scared of the others sitting around.

Consult with other teachers and principal as well as other staff members to get a wider reading on the problem and alert them to the problem to make them aware.

Expect that the bully will try and minimize and deny his or her actions. Refer to school and classroom codes of conduct in telling the bully why their behavior was unacceptable. Remind them of what behavior you do expect of them. Also, inform the bully of the consequences to their actions.

Inform the parents of the bully and of the victim as soon as possible. A quick call to the home the same day is recommended, followed by an appointment at school for the parents, if it is necessary. Better results are obtained when parents are involved early in a bullying situation, before behavior patterns become serious.

For victims, involving them in groups and situations where they can make appropriate friends and build their social skills and confidence is important. An example of this is a peer support group, new student orientation group, a co-operative learning group in class, or a special activity group or club. Suggest to parents that they can also arrange for these kinds of opportunities outside of school. The goal should be to develop the child's peer support network, social and other skills and confidence.

For the bully, specific re-education as to his/her/their behavior is as important as removal of privileges, detention, etc.

Monitor the behavior of the bully and the safety of the victim on a school-wide basis as simply talking to each of them may not solve the problem completely.

If the bully will not change their behavior despite constant efforts by school staff, they, and not the victim, should be the ones who are removed from the class, school, or team. Consequences for the bully will be of interest to all students and will set the tone for future situations.