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Pooky Knightsmith

Bulllying: Practical Strategies for Teachers and TAs

Guidelines for Teachers Handling Disclosures of Child Abuse

Victims of bullying suffer psychological and sometimes physical scars that last a lifetime. Victims report greater fear and anxiety, feel less accepted, suffer from more health problems, and score lower on measures of academic achievement and self-esteem than students who are not bullied.

Victims often turn their anger inward, which may lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicide.

The practical strategies outlined below could form a part of your pro-active approach towards preventing and handling bullying.

 

Listening

Encourage students to set up a class council when a problem arises in the classroom. Students can then discuss bullying or intimidating behaviour and openly look for solutions to the problem. It helps the whole class cohesion and makes students aware of their responsibilities to each other.  Advise the class council to report its progress to the school council.

Support

When a student is particularly vulnerable you can invite an educational psychologist (with the permission of the child and parents/ carers) to talk to the whole class, without that student being present. The discussion could focus on the positive things about the student concerned and then the class could be asked to befriend them. Around six to eight students could be encouraged to form a circle of friends and meet with the student on a regular basis.

Prevention

Organise a half-day workshop for students starting Year 7 explain about all forms of bullying, how to stop it and what support students can expect. This can empower new students and lets them know that there is someone to talk to and that bullying does not go unnoticed.

Empathy

Ask your students to take on the personas of people who have experienced bullying. They could recreate specific bullying situations in and around school. You could then explore whether they identify with any of the situations.

Travelling

Bullying often occurs when students travel to and from school. You could consider talking to bus and rail firms to see if steps, such as posting prefects on scheduled buses, and liaising with other schools to reduce after-school conflict can be taken to prevent bullying. There could also be a bus charter.

Ambassadors

Another good strategy is to appoint Year 11 students to mentor younger students.  These “ambassadors” need to be trained in peer counselling and mediation techniques. This method ensures that the most vulnerable students in the school have someone to talk to and helps to break down age boundaries.  This can be particularly helpful when a student joins a school mid-term or later than other students.

Please share your good practice by adding your own strategies and experiences by commenting on this post.

You may find the following helpful:

Bullying: Practical Strategies for Teachers and TAs – a one day course from Creative Education.  This can also be delivered in school.

 

Anti-Bullying Alliance

Bullying UK

Bully Free Zone

 

  • Great advice, but I’d suggest that classes should have class councils all the time, not just in response to a specific incident.
    Firstly, I think pupils would be aware it was being set up to deal with a specific issue and therefore see it as a teacher-led intervention (which it would be), rather than something actually peer-led.
    Secondly, class councils are just a good idea, partly because they can help prevent bullying in the first place, as they encourage empathy and collaboration.

    • I think these are really good points. Sometimes it’s easy to take a look at the specific problem you’re looking to solve and forget to think about the wider picture.

      One thing we’re all agreed on though is that class councils can have a real impact in a wide range of situations and should be embraced as fully as possible. I think this is a topic we would do well to explore further in a future blog post.

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  • I’ll bow to the collective expertise of the agencies involved in compiling this.

    I’d like to raise a tentative caution about the advice on support. I have seen this applied in work places and it can have the unfortunate effect of increasing the victim’s ostracizing now that they have been identified as someone special and have been, even indirectly, responsibled for making everyone uncomfortable.

    The fact that they are absent from this intervention puts them in the spotlight.

    Another thing, bullies are sly and bullying is not always overt. Indeed, it might be so incidental even the bullies are unaware of the impact of their behaviour. Phoebe Prince’s tormentors in Massachusetts didn’t have a master plan, they just gave in to a series of spiteful impulses. Yet their petty collective bitching led directly to the suicide of a pretty, gentle girl just trying to make friends in a new world.

    • You make some really compelling points James – what do you think are the realistic alternatives on this one? These ideas are tried and tested but it doesn’t mean to say they are anything like perfect and I can definitely see your point…

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  • Martyn Robinson-Slater @robinsonslater

    Bullying in all its forms is one of the greatest barriers to learning and enjoyment of learning in schools. The support of the victims of bullying is therefore extremely important and an integral part of the support mechanisms in a school.
    Below are links to a guide i have written to Peer Support and a lesson plan for PHSE using Circle Time to support victims of bullying. I hope they assist and help you in supporting those afflicted by experiences of bulying.
    http://bit.ly/m0U0aM
    http://bit.ly/kkEtrW

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