New Tips to Solve an Old Problem: Bullying
Updated: Oct 13, 2022
How to Approach a Student Getting Bullied?
Did you know that one out of every five students report being bullied? That is 20% of an entire student body! Together, let’s put ourselves into the shoes of a struggling student. Are you ready to dive in?
Let’s start with how to approach a student who is a victim of bullying along with a few tools that we can use to support our school’s anti-bullying initiatives. First of all we need to know the signs and have a plan to help them.
Know the Signs
Not all students who are bullied exhibit the same signs and behaviors, but here are a few general guidelines. Keep an eye out for:
A student who spends less time around other children or clings to those who make him feel safe.
Mood changes, which can be acute or prolonged.
Sudden tearfulness, fear, sullenness, or anger, particularly after an incident of bullying.
An overall decline in mood or functioning in school and other activities.
Self-deprecating remarks (which reflect the slights of others).
Physical marks, such as redness on skin, bruises, torn bookbag, or dirt or food on clothing.
Attempts to cover up a physical feature or another characteristic that others have ridiculed.
Look for signs of distress not only in the child being bullied, but also in peers who may be a witness.
Connect with People
Once you have identified a victim of bullying, help him or her to connect with people. You can involve some other students by asking them to spend time with the student, take lunch together, play games and participate in all different school activities.
Does your school have an anti-bullying initiative or club? If not, you can gather a group of outstanding students that focus on identifying and including their peers who may be struggling to fit in.
Talk to the Family
Before reaching out to the family, be prepared with answers to questions that they could ask you. Here are a few potential questions that they might ask you:
How do you know that they’re getting bullied?
Why haven’t they talked to me about it?
Where are they being bullied?
Do you have any evidence?
What is being done about it?
Can we talk to the parents of the bully?
This is an important part, they can feel support from you and they also can support their children. You can give some ideas to the parents to encourage their children to be physically active outside of school like swimming lessons, cycling or dancing, learn new skills, etc. Focus on activities that interest the child while also giving them an internal sense of purpose and self-worth.
“Insults lose their power when one understands their intrinsic self worth.”
Bullying is a destructive weapon that affects many people like parents, kids and staff. Bullying can affect everyone—those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. Invest time to train your teachers and school workers to identify and report bullying to your school’s counseling department.
How to Prevent Bullying?
Prevention is just as important as intervention, and in the end, a more effective long-term strategy. Use these ‘guidelines to create an environment of respect and kindness in your classroom:
Set the tone.
From day one, talk about bullying and other types of mistreatment in your classroom. Raise these topics often as the school year progresses. Make sure your students get the message that bullying is something you take seriously and will address directly and consistently.
We recommend holding a school-wide pep rally or workshop to directly speak to the harms of bullying. Get your school pumped up about it.
Make reporting feel safe.
Actively foster an environment where students who are bullied (and their peers) feel safe coming forward and reporting their concerns. Encourage students to ask for help if they need it and emphasize how brave it is to report a bullying situation. Offer multiple ways that they can report it; for example:
Directly speak with a teacher or counselor
Place your contact information where parents can easily find it
Note or form submission
A section to report bullying on the school website or app
Train cafeteria workers and auxiliary staff to be safe reporting points for students
Open office hours
Friendly front office staff that put students first
Communicate appropriate consequences.
Make your expectations and the consequences of bullying clear. Be sure that the consequences are appropriate. (For example, don’t just tell the bullied student to stay away from the aggressor–this reduces the victim’s power and gives the bullying child a more dominant position.)
Punishing a student for bullying often exaggerates their behavior. Find a way to educate and incentivize them, followed up by a future review with those students to check their progress.
Address the student sensitively.
If you suspect a student is being bullied – or if a student comes to you for help – how can you approach them in a way that makes them feel safe and supported? Here are some tips:
When you’re addressing a student you think is being harassed, use language that doesn’t inadvertently make the student feel powerless. Some students might ask you to help take responsibility for the problem, and that’s okay. Other students may feel demoralized by bullying and will benefit from empowerment. Let the student suggest what he hopes will change, and use “we” language, when possible, to help the student feel included in the solution.
Ask before advising.
If a student reports being bullied or you suspect that the student is being seriously mistreated, don’t jump in with solutions right away. Make sure you give the student space to explain the problem. You might ask a few questions to get the specifics straight before thinking about the next steps: “What insults have they said to you?” “Has he hurt you physically?” “What are you afraid she might do to you?”
Whether the student has been bullied or has witnessed a bullying situation, emphasize again that it takes courage to speak up and ask for help. Those are the first steps in addressing the problem.
Suggest safety options.
If a child has ongoing concerns about a bullying situation, you might offer some basic strategies that may help reduce the impact: using assertive, nonaggressive statements to tell the peers to stop; walking away; telling an adult; spending free time with peers who are safe.
Leave your door open.
A child who is bullied may decline your support. If that happens, let the student know that you and other adults at the school are ready and willing to help if he or she needs you in the future. Checking in with the student occasionally can underscore the message that your “door” is always open for them.
Addressing bullying situations can sometimes be challenging and intimidating. If you haven’t had formal training on identifying and managing bullying in an educational setting, consider requesting such training from your school.
Talk to the Family. Again!
When a child is being emotionally or physically hurt, how can you address the issue with family members? Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
Anticipate a range of emotions. Parents can experience a wide spectrum of strong emotions when they know their child has experienced bullying. Be prepared for a range of different responses: parents may show signs of visible distress, express anger toward the school and its professionals, share feelings of fear and sadness, or communicate a sense of urgency to resolve the problem.
Ask for their input. Get the family involved in problem-solving by asking them to describe what they know about the situation and how their child has reacted at home. Has the child been holding back emotions at school and then “letting them out” at home? Families can provide unique and critical insights that deepen your understanding of the situation and what the child might need.
Collaborate on confidence-boosters. Together with parents, brainstorm some activities that can help increase the child’s confidence and sense of accomplishment. Confidence-boosters may offset the demoralizing effects of being teased or bullied.
Decide When to Refer to an Administrator or Mental Health Professional.
When should you refer a child for additional help and support outside your classroom? Consider this step when:
You feel intimidated by an aggressive student, or you think that a student poses a danger to themself or others. If you feel unsafe, access your supporting staff right away.
Issues of bullying and abuse can be complicated to address. Talk to your colleagues at school for support and guidance and remember to follow protocols that might require you to report your concerns to others.
How to Overcome the Stress of Bullying?
Bullying can cause an unseen strain and stress of teachers and staff. To best help your students, you must be recharged and composed. Try the following to be rested and prepared for the next encounter with bullying in your school.
Connect with People
· if possible, take time each day to be with your family, for example, try arranging a fixed time to eat dinner together
· arrange a day out with friends you have not seen for a while
· try switching off the TV to talk or play a game with your children, friends or family
· have lunch with a colleague
· visit a friend or family member who needs support or company
· volunteer at a local school, hospital or community group.
· make the most of technology to stay in touch with friends and family. Video-chat apps like Skype and FaceTime are useful, especially if you live far apart
Be Physically Active
· find free activities to help you get fit
· If you have a disability or long-term health condition, find out about getting active within your physical limitations.
· start running while listening to the Charter School Connection podcast!
· find out how to start swimming, cycling or dancing
· find out about getting started with exercise
Learn New Skills
· try learning to cook something new.
· try taking on a new responsibility at work, such as mentoring a junior staff member or improving your presentation skills
· work on a DIY project, such as fixing a broken bike, garden gate or something bigger. There are lots of free video tutorials online
· consider signing up for a course at a local college. You could try learning a new language or a practical skill such as plumbing
· try new hobbies that challenge you, such as writing a blog, taking up a new sport, or learning to paint
Give to others
· creating positive feelings and a sense of reward
· giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth
· helping you connect with other people
It could be small acts of kindness towards other people or larger ones like volunteering in your local community.
Some examples of the things you could try include:
1. saying thank you to someone for something they have done for you
2. asking friends, family, or colleagues how they are and listening to their answer
3. spending time with friends or relatives who need support or company
4. offering to help someone you know with DIY or a work project
5. volunteering in your community, such as helping at a school, hospital, or care home
Bullying is a destructive weapon. Many people are seriously affected like parents, kids and society related. Bullying can affect everyone—those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. Your investment to train your teachers and school workers can lead to a better atmosphere, higher teacher and student retention and even save a life.