3 Ways to Address Bullying With More Than Just Discipline

Ideas for school administrators on changing bullying behaviors


One of the most important things that school administrators should remember as they develop their bullying prevention programs is that discipline for bullying, by itself, does little to stop bullying. In fact, some students who bully will welcome a suspension.

The key to preventing bullying is to get bullies to take responsibility for their actions. As a result, it is important for educators to focus on educating bullies by helping them understand the magnitude of their choices.

One way this is accomplished is by developing bullying intervention programs that not only discipline the offender but also encourage empathy, foster respect and teach responsibility.

The end result will be that the bully knows what he did wrong and how his actions harmed others. Also, bullying intervention programs allow bullies to see that bullying at school is taken seriously and that respectful behavior is expected at all times. And the hope is that these things will prevent him from bullying others again. 

Here are three strategies for incorporating these concepts into your bullying intervention programs.

Use consequences that involve learning more about bullying. The goal of this approach is to build empathy and prevent future bullying. If kids who bully are required to do a project that requires them to take a closer look at ​bullying and the effects it has on others, they will be less likely to engage in bullying behavior again.

Some examples of these consequences include:

  • Researching statistics on bullying and making a presentation.
  • Leading a class discussion on what kids can do to stand up to a bully.
  • Writing an essay on why bullying others is wrong.
  • Writing a paper on what healthy friendships look like.
  • Leading a class discussion on the effects of bullying.
  • Making a presentation about the importance of respect at school.
  • Completing a project/study on the negative effects of cyberbullying.
  • Reading a book about bullying and writing a report.
  • Creating bullying prevention posters for the school.

Require the bully to make amends. The goal of this approach is to encourage the bully to see how their actions impact others as well as create empathy for others. Some examples of making amends include:

  • Making a list of all the positive things about the child who was bullied.
  • Writing an explanation as to why bullying is wrong and what the child has learned during the discipline process.
  • Writing an apology to the student who was targeted.
  • Performing one good deed a day (for a week or a month) for the student who was targeted.
  • Cleaning up school property.
  • Replacing anything that was damaged, especially property of the targeted student.
  • Serving as a mentor for younger students who have also bullied students.
  • Implementing a service project that helps those who are less fortunate.
  • Completing a required number of community service hours.

Make it uncool to bully other kids. One of the best ways to get kids to stop bullying is to take away the audience for their poor behavior. Some ways to make bullying uncool include:

  • Diminishing the attention bullies get for bullying others.
  • Rewarding positive behavior, especially for those students that show respect or stand up to bullying.
  • Developing a campaign where respect and empathy become the standards for behavior at school.
  • Researching celebrities who were bullied and how it impacted their lives.

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