Take Action: Anti-Bullying Resources for Teachers

Anti-Bullying in Schools

Bullying is a highly-damaging experience that can be challenging to identify and prevent. Teachers can help stop bullying in schools and online by paying attention to their students, reporting problematic incidents, providing support to students as needed, and discussing anti-bullying in the classroom. From the first day of class, teachers should communicate with students not only about academics, but about events and behavior outside of the classroom.

Classroom activities and discussions on bullying and related issues can create safe places for students to talk about their experiences. The Center for Disease Control reported that bullies, victims, and witnesses are more likely to have high levels of suicide-related thoughts or behaviors than those who are not exposed to it.

The more anti-bullying resources and outlets students have, the more likely they are to seek help instead of hiding problems and facing physical and emotional consequences on their own. This concept applies to both the targets of bullying and those who bully.

On a larger scale, schools should have a zero-tolerance anti-bullying policy in place. Students should always feel safe on school grounds, and schools do not want to wait until an incident happens. Clear anti-bullying policies will also help students become more knowledgeable about bullying and willing to step up if they see it happening.

Bullying in Schools: Guide for Teachers

There are many forms of bullying, and the signs can be subtle, particularly when it comes to cyberbullying. Students may shy away from reporting bullies because they may be afraid that they will get in trouble, make it worse, or experience backlash from peers by telling an adult. Some targets may even believe it is their fault and think that talking about it will make them be perceived as weak.

Being aware of warning signs of bullying will help teachers react quickly to incidents and prevent it in the future. The The physical effects of bullying include symptoms like stomach pain, unexplained injuries, or destruction to clothing or possessions. A child who is bullied may display poor academic performance and even fake illness due to loss of interest in school. Changes in habits such as eating, sleeping, and socializing less are also common. A child who is bullying likely gets into frequent verbal and physical fights at school, blames others for their behavior and wrong actions, and gains possession of new items without a good explanation.

Unfortunately, bullying is something that can occur in any classroom, in any school, in any district. That's why it's so important that teachers learn how to handle bullying both in their teacher preparation programs and through professional development —especially early on in their careers.

Bullying Preparation in Coursework, Student Teaching, and Certification

Thanks to state laws implemented across the country, schools are required to have programs to combat bullying. Those programs commonly include:

  • Instructional lessons
  • Components of parent and community involvement
  • Professional development for staff members
  • Resources and materials (including school counselors and better behavior intervention plans
  • Protocols and procedures for reporting and stopping bullying

Preventing Bullying: Teacher Preparation

It’s important for teachers to participate in anti-bullying programs ‘’before’’ they become fully certified teachers. That means pursuing anti-bullying coursework during teacher-preparation programs and practice handling bullying as a student teacher.

Anti-Bullying Coursework

For those enrolled in teacher preparation courses, part of learning how to address bullying includes studying the theory and psychology behind bullying behaviors in students. Readings and assignments associated with the theory, psychology, and vocabulary concerned with bullying are important for teachers who are preparing for the Praxis exam, CSET-CBEST exams, and TExES exams.

Some of the vocabulary associated with bullying and bullying prevention is particularly important. For example, bullying involve an imbalance of power, whereas an argument is a disagreement between students that, while it may be repetitive, does not cross the line into bullying. Understanding the corresponding vocabulary and nuances helps teachers identify bullying behaviors in students early and quickly.

Strategies for Handling Bullying as a Student Teacher

While learning and understanding bullying theory and vocabulary is important, it’s one thing to read about bullying behaviors in a textbook and another entirely to address a real-life bullying situation. Therefore, having an experienced mentor and student teaching requirements are extremely valuable. An experienced teacher mentor can guide a new teacher in the practical application of concepts like High Trust Philosophy and Positive Behaviour Intervention and Support (PBIS). This pre-certification experience is absolutely crucial for helping teachers develop practical solutions to bullying situations in the classroom.

Preventing Bullying in Your Classroom: Professional Development

When bullied students approach teachers for assistance, studies show that teachers should avoid telling students to fix it themselves or ignore the behavior. Students need support from the school to help stop bullying quickly and effectively.

Everyone involved in bullying needs support – from bullies to teachers to bullying bystanders. The targets of bullying, in particular, require immediate help to prevent long-lasting damage to their mental and emotional health. Talking about their experiences can help students work through it, but if the bullying was exceptionally aggressive or long-lasting, teachers can work with parents to obtain professional help for students.

By implementing zero-tolerance policies, schools can help ensure that bullies are held accountable for their actions. Teachers can work with parents and counselors to uncover potential causes of the bullying and devise solutions for avoiding harmful behavior in the future. They should also spend time talking to students about bullying and explain how to reach out for help.

Technology and Bullying

The reality of teaching in America means that as classrooms and technology evolve, so do bullying behaviors and preventative methods. Newly minted teachers may walk into a classroom only to find that they have not been exposed to behaviors like cyberbullying or catfishing (use of a false persona online) or learned how to track student behavior. That makes professional development and mentoring—particularly early on in a teacher’s career—absolutely crucial.

Early Career Strategies

Early on in their careers, teachers may find themselves feeling overwhelmed and in need of additional professional development and support from their schools in managing and preventing bullying. In addition to anti-bullying workshops and peer mentorship, district and school support may come in the form of support might come in the form of child psychologists and high school guidance counselors.

Ongoing Classroom Management

In addition to professional development and early career strategies, there are six main steps that new teachers can take to identify and combat bullying situations in their classrooms and schools:

  1. Explore your school’s bullying prevention program and offer suggestions for improvement if you identify any potentially ineffective areas.
  2. Implement a positive behavior intervention system (PBIS) program in your classroom to help your students recognize their own and others’ positive behaviors.
  3. Practice effective communication with students, parents, peers, and/or principals, making sure your that you’re being clear and consistent.
  4. Base student feedback on engagement (rather than questionnaires or surveys) to make sure that you, the teacher, are getting real-time, unfiltered data from your students on how your anti-bullying strategies are working.
  5. Look for ways to promote a positive school culture outside of your classroom.
  6. Involve parents and the local community in your anti-bullying efforts—sometimes it takes a village to stop bullying!
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Anti-Bullying Resources