About 34% of bullying is reported to happen inside the classroom. (“Bullying Statistics.” Bullying Statistics - National Bullying Prevention Center, 28 Dec. 2017, www.pacer.org/bullying/resources/stats.asp.) Educators have a responsibility to keep their schools and classrooms safe and comfortable for their students. It is important that teachers take special time to learn about bullying and how they can prevent it. When educators respond quickly and consistently to bullying they show it is not acceptable, which can stop bullying over time. Here are a few ways that educators can prevent and address bullying in their classrooms and schools.
Be a leader in preventing bullying in your school. One way to do this is to find out where and when bullying happens at your school. Think about what could help and share your ideas with other teachers or staff members. Another way to get involved is to talk to the principal about giving students a voice through programs and student safety committees.
One way to prevent bullying is to have open communication with your students about bullying, how they can protect themselves from being bullied, how to stand up to a bully, and how to avoid bullying others.
- How to protect yourself from cyberbullying – Always think about what you post, keep your password a secret from other students, and think about your social media privacy settings and who can see your posts. Also, if you are cyberbullied, report it.
- Treat Everyone with Respect – Stop and think before you say something that could hurt someone’s feelings. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and no one is better or worse than anyone else. Lastly, if you feel like you have bullied someone in the past, apologize.
- Stand up for Yourself – Look at the bully and tell them to stop in a calm and clear voice. If speaking up seems too hard or not safe just walk away and stay away. Find an adult and they can take care of the situation. Stay away from places you know bullying happens and stay near adults; bullies usually don’t bully when around adults.
How to Know if a Student is being Cyberbullied or is a Cyberbully
With 34% of students experiencing cyberbullying, knowing the signs of a cyberbully and a victim of cyberbullying is important. A child can get involved in cyberbullying in many ways. Many of the warning signs occur when a child is around their cellphone. Cyberbullying may happen at night when the student is at home, but the fallout often gets brought into the school. It’s important to pay attention when a student suddenly changes in digital and social behavior. Some of the warning signs that a child is involved in cyberbullying are:
- Noticeable increases or decreases in device use
- A student shows emotional responses to what is happening on their device such as anger or being upset
- A student hides their screen when others are near and avoids talking about what they are doing on their device
- A student starts to avoid social situations, even ones they enjoyed before
- A student becomes withdrawn, depressed, or loses interest in people and activities
- A student’s grades start to slip drastically
How to Address Cyberbullying if You Suspect It
Educators and school administrators are in positions to use their role to create safe spaces for their students to learn and focus. They are also around their students a lot, so they may notice their student’s behavioral changes. If you suspect that one of your students is involved in cyberbullying, here are a few things you can do to address the issue:
- Speak to the student privately and ask about it. They may even have proof on their phone.
- Speak to a parent about it.
- Increase your digital awareness. Be knowledgeable about what your students are using and how they are using it.
- Create classroom activities that encourage self-reflection, considering the feelings of others, and inclusivity
- Be a positive role model and reward positive behavior.
- Encourage your students to be involved in prevention strategies.
- Turn bullying incidents into teachable moments by discussing what could have been done differently.
- Use children’s and young adult books that provides examples of ally behaviors and how they made a real difference
- Take a course for educators on preventing bullying, for example, “Preventing (Cyber) Bullying: Creating Safe Schools for all Students,”
Preventing Face-to-Face Bullying
Create a Safe and Supportive Environment – Make sure your classroom creates a culture of inclusion and respect that welcomes all students. Be knowledgeable about your school’s bullying “hot spots” and try to monitor those areas.
Classroom Expectations – Develop rules for your classroom that make sure students treat each other with respect. Make your expectations clear and direct.
Stop Bullying Right Away – Correct the situation immediately. If you need to, get another adult to help you. Don’t talk to the students involved at the same time. Talk to the students separately.
Find out what happened – Listen without blaming and don’t call the act “bullying” before you know the whole story.
Support Them – Whether they are the bully or are being bullied, they need to be supported. There may be things going on in their lives that you as a teacher don’t know about. Disciplinary action should be taken, but respectfully. This can keep the bully from bullying again.
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