School Bullying (Part 5 of 5)
Role of Adults
Several factors collectively contribute to bullying and other antisocial behaviors and may be found both in the home and in the school; these are:
• A punitive environment
• A lack of positive consequences and reinforcement
• Inconsistencies in the rules and the consequences for breaking them
• A lack of awareness of or responsiveness to individual differences
Role of Administrators
Administrators must act to implement the school’s policy against bullying. The following practical actions will support a no-bullying policy:
• Schedule playground supervision and make sure students are monitored in class, hallways, restrooms, the cafeteria, and areas identified in the school survey as “hot spots” for bullying.
• Schedule regular school-wide assemblies and teacher/staff development to raise awareness and communicate the policy of intolerance for bullying behavior.
• Establish a school-wide rule that states, “No Put-Downs, No Name Calling.”
Post clear expectations for behavior, including the no-bullying rule and the consequences for breaking that rule.
• Establish a confidential reporting system for students (targets of bullying and bystanders) to safely report details of bullying incidents without fear of retaliation.
• Provide school-wide and classroom activities designed to build students’ self-esteem, such as showcasing special talents, hobbies, interests, and abilities. For example, feature in the school newsletter individual student essays or articles based on student interviews.
Actions for Students
• Try to avoid engaging in acts of bullying and seek help from an adult.
• Report bullying incidents you witness at school to an adult.
• Encourage others to report bullying incidents and help them report if they cannot do it alone.
• Support someone who has been hurt by offering kind words in private and helping them through the next steps.
• Show your disappointment in the behavior by not joining in while someone publicly humiliates, teases, or harasses another and do not participate in the gossip or rumors being spread.
Actions for Families
• Convince the child that everyone is entitled to respect and that he/she does not deserve being bullied.
• Work with the school staff to address a bullying problem whether as an advocate for the bully or the targeted student. Keep accurate records of incidents and be specific about the child’s experiences when discussing resolution of the problem with school personnel.
• Note that meeting with the family of a bully may be difficult as family members may interpret the child’s behavior as “standing up for himself/herself.” However, asking for a meeting that includes the child’s teacher, the school principal, or the school counselor may lead to practical advice or intervention that will assist both the family of the target and the family of the bully with issues and interventions that can lead to resolution of the problem.
• Teach the child to be assertive without striking out. This action sends the bully the message that his/her attempts to threaten or intimidate are not having the desired effect and reduces the chances that the bully will continue to single out the confident, assertive child.
Presentation prepared by ACS Executive Director, Dr. Philippe Rey