Anti-bullying for Teachers

Teachers are an essential part of recognizing and intervening in bullying situations. The latest research indicates that about 22% of students experience bullying regularly at school. To put that in perspective in your classroom of 26 students, five six of the children are or have been bullied at school. Your school counselor, school social worker, and administrators are there to support you and your students.  Here are a few tips that you can also see in the resources below:

  1. Do not ignore bullying. It will only get worse and cause more harm to the child.

  2. Bullying can sometimes start as conflict between two students.  Be careful to notice if there is an imbalance of power with one child as the target.

  3. Talk to the students separately out of the classroom and not together.

  4. Punishment alone does not correct the behavior.

  5. Listen carefully to understand the target’s feelings.

  6. Likewise listen to the student who is bullying as they have often experienced bullying or other trauma or mistreatment.

  7. Anyone can be both a bully and a target.  Even adults.  Use empathy to respond as you would want someone to respond to you. A little empathy goes a long way in building trust and relationships.

  8. Communicate that bullying is never acceptable in your classroom by creating and modeling kindness and acceptance.

  9. Empower your students to stand up for themselves and others when they see bullying occurring.

  10. Communicate to every child that you will be a SAFE adult to report bullying and support them.  Reporting to keep others from harm is not tattling or snitching.

    Other common mistakes to avoid:

    1. Don’t immediately try to sort out facts.  Making sure a bullied student feels safe is most important.

    2. Don’t force other kids to publicly give the details of what they saw.  Firsthand reports can vary and cause additional harm.

    3. Don’t make students apologize on the spot.  It takes time to understand the situation and the perspective of each child to determine how much emotional or physical harm has been done.

    4. Don’t think you have to resolve the bullying situation on your own.  Ask another teacher, the school counselor or social worker, or your administrator for help.

    Find out what happened:

    1. Listen without blaming or choosing sides.

    2. Get the story from several students or adults.

    3. Refrain from calling the behaviors “ bullying” while you are talking with students to try to understand the behavior.  

    4. Repeat your understanding of their statements to be most accurate.  Document the statement in writing.

    Determine if it is bullying:

    Review the definition of bullying in the  Bullying/Harassment Policy and Procedure section. Remember that it does not matter “who started it.”  Some students are considered annoying or rude, but this does not excuse the bullying behavior. 

     Consider these factors to determine if the incident is bullying:

    1. The history of the students involved? Any past conflicts? Any history of violence or mistreatment?

    2. Is there a power imbalance due to physical size/strength, popularity, disability, number of students involved, personality or other social traits, or other factors? These are sometimes hard to recognize, but if the target feels there is a power imbalance, there probably is.

    3. Is this a recurring issue or does the target worry that it will happen again?

    4. For teens, are they or have they dated the student bullying or one of that student’s friend?

    5. Is there any suspected gang involvement?  

    Support and disciplinary actions may be needed.  Parents of both students must be notified.  Your administrator will follow the process in the Bullying/Harassment Policy and Procedure section.

Video series by Dr. Hayley Watson:

Common Sense Education also has some great teaching resources for cyberbullying.

Teachers' Essential Guide to Preventing Cyberbullying, Common Sense Education

It is important to work with parents and caregivers.  See information in the Bullying for Parents section of this Webpage.