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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.