8 Ways Educators Can Support Victims of Bullying

Ideas for helping students overcome school bullying

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Teachers and administrators play a crucial role not only in bullying prevention, but also in bullying intervention. In fact, helping victims of bullying through the ordeal is paramount to that child’s future academic success and overall wellbeing.

But for some educators, knowing exactly what to do or say can seem overwhelming at times. After all, teachers should not be expected to serve as counselors.

Their job is to educate. But they can support the overall recovery process in the classroom and incorporate it into the daily learning schedule.

Take immediate action. One of the best ways to end a bullying situation is to intervene immediately and with appropriate consequences. Of course, be sure to follow your school’s guidelines for handling a bullying situation.

Avoid discussing the incident in front of other students. Be sure to separate the bully and the victim when discussing a bullying incident. Never require the victim to share the details of the bullying in front of the bully. Bullying involves a power imbalance and mediation does not work. It’s also too stressful for victims to confront someone they perceive to have more power than them. What’s more, you are likely setting the victim up to be retaliated against. Disclosures of bullying should be done confidentially and with the safety of the victim in mind.

Offer the victim protection. If bullying is occurring in the hallways, cafeteria, locker rooms, at recess or in the bathrooms, be sure to alert the school’s administrators. There should be an adult presence in all your school’s bullying hot spots if you expect to prevent future incidents. The more difficult your school makes it for children to bully throughout the school day, the less you will have to deal with it on a regular basis.

The goal is that you implement bullying prevention practices that work so that the majority of your day is spent focusing on education and not on correcting bullying behaviors.

Find the victim a mentor or a buddy. Friendship is a crucial element in bullying prevention. Athletes in particular are good options for helping victims of bullying. If you can connect the victim with a mentor or a buddy, this will go a long way in deterring future bullying especially if the two can walk the halls together and eat lunch together. Also, this new friendship may help build the child’s self-esteem and resiliency. It is extremely important for victims of bullying to know there are people in the school that care about them.

Call the parents of the victim. This goes without saying that the parents of the victim need to be called. Arrange to discuss the bullying incident with them and let them know what the school plans to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Be prepared for an emotional response. It is difficult for parents to learn that another child is targeting their child.

Be patient and listen with an open mind. Also, assure them that you or an administrator will be discussing the incident with the bully’s parents. For privacy reasons, you can’t really discuss too many specifics. And most parents of victims find this difficult to accept. So be prepared to respond to their objections in a calm and understanding manner. Try to keep the focus of the conversation on what the school plans to do to support their child and less about how the school plans to discipline the bully.

Provide the victim with resources. It is wise for educators to have a list of resources for bullying victims readily available. That way, when a bullying incident does occur, you don’t have to do a lot of research. You can direct the student and his parents with ideas on where to get help. For instance, provide the victim and his parents with printouts or a list of websites that you feel will help him in the recovery process. It’s also a good idea to have a list of community resources available where they can get additional help if they need it.

Open a discussion in the classroom. Incorporate a discussion about the importance of respectful behavior into your lessons. Look for ways to tie it in with a history lesson, a social studies lesson or a reading lesson. There are lots of examples where it is easy to tie in a discussion on bullying. Have your kids talk about their feelings when it comes to bullying and encourage them to offer suggestions for bullying prevention. You will be amazed at how much insight you will gain into bullying at your school when you give your students a forum to discuss the issue. Additionally, an open class discussion often goes a long way in making bullying an unacceptable behavior.

Monitor the situation. Never assume that the bullying has stopped just because the school intervened. With some students, it may take multiple interventions and increasing consequences before they change their bullying behavior. And sadly for some students, bullying works for them so they may never choose to change. For this reason, you need to keep in touch with the victim and determine how things are progressing. If he is still being bullied, then you need to step in and address the situation. No educator should ever believe that ignoring bullying is the best answer. The goal should always be to prevent bullying and then address it when it does occur. If bullying isn’t addressed, it only escalates and negatively impacts the learning environment. Research has shown even bystanders are impacted by bullying. So it is in everyone’s best interest to do what they can to keep bullying at bay.

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