How to Prevent Bullying As a Teacher

How to Prevent Bullying As a Teacher

As a teacher, you want to provide a safe, supportive environment for all of your students. Unfortunately, bullying is a common concern in schools, and it can cause lasting damage for students who experience it. You’re likely doing everything you can to prevent bullying among your students, but you might want to try a few proven tactics for stopping school bullies. With your help, your students can enjoy a positive school experience.

Method 1 of 3:
Teaching Kids about Bullying

Image titled Understand Your Teachers in School when You Have Hearing Loss Step 3
1
Use stories and movies to help students understand bullying. Sometimes kids bully each other because they don’t know any better. They may have learned the behavior from watching others, or they might just think it’s all in fun. Teach students to recognize right and wrong ways to treat each other by reading stories or watching movies about bullying. Ask students to think about how each character feels and what the characters could do differently. [1] X Research source For instance, you might use short fiction about bullying when practicing reading comprehension. Younger students may enjoy short stories, while older students might study a novel. Similarly, you might watch a short cartoon with younger students or a movie with older students. You can find pre-made lessons about bullying online if you don’t want to make your own.[2] X Trustworthy Source National Education Association Union of professional teachers devoted to promoting the success of the public education system by advocating on behalf of teachers and students. Go to source
2
Give students reflection activities to help them recognize emotions. Kids and teens are still developing, so they may not be able to name their emotions. Similarly, they might have trouble understanding what someone else is experiencing. Teach your students to explore and acknowledge their feelings. Then, ask them to imagine how other students might feel when they’re bullied. [3] X Trustworthy Source StopBullying.gov Website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullying Go to source You could work these lessons into your warm-up activities or might include the exercises as part of a larger assignment that's already in your curriculum. For instance, you might give your students a worksheet with various scenarios on it, like getting a bad grade, being left out of an activity, or hearing gossip about yourself. Ask the students to write down how that experience makes them feel. Adjust the scenarios to fit your students’ age group. You could also give your students journaling activities designed to help them work through their emotions.
3
Do roleplaying activities to help kids learn how to respond to bullying. Students may feel really shocked when they’re the target of or witness to bullying, and they may have trouble figuring out what to say. Roleplaying allows kids and teens to practice speaking up and helps them get ideas from each other about what to say. Write a few short bullying scenes, then get students to act them out. Ask the class to brainstorm ways to respond to the bullying as both victim and witness. [4] X Research source At first, lead a discussion about how students might respond. Later, have students play a bystander and let them practice intervening. Make sure the students take turns playing the “bully” and “the victim.”
4
Use bullying incidents as a teaching moment for all students. Hopefully, you won’t catch any of your students bullying others. If you do, however, use it as an opportunity to talk about bullying with any students who witnessed the incident. Review your classroom expectations, then ask students to reflect on why the bullying incident was wrong. As you do this, don’t shame the bully or the victim, as this creates more harm. [5] X Research source Keep the focus on the behavior, not the students involved. If an entire class witnessed the bullying incident, you might ask them to each write a short paragraph about why the bullying behavior was wrong. If only a few students saw the incident, you could simply talk to the students and ask for their thoughts on the issue.
5
Get students to sign an anti-bullying contract to get them on board. While it may sound silly, students are less likely to bully others if you use anti-bullying contracts. In your contract, include your classroom behavioral expectations and a promise to abstain from all bullying behaviors. Ask students to read and sign the form, then keep it on file. [6] X Trustworthy Source American Psychological Association Leading scientific and professional organization of licensed psychologists Go to source Your form might say something like, “I promise to never bully other students, either verbally, physically, or online. I promise to treat everyone with kindness and respect at all times. Finally, I promise to tell an adult if I see someone else bullying.” If a student is caught or accused of bullying, show them their contract to remind them of their commitment.
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Method 2 of 3:
Creating a Positive Classroom Environment

Image titled Not Be Intimidated by Other Girls Step 21
1
Model kindness and empathy for your students. You set the standard for how you expect your students to act. Treat everyone with respect, including students and other teachers. Similarly, maintain a kind, but firm, tone of voice when you speak, even while you’re upset. This shows students how you expect them to behave. [7] X Research source For example, don’t talk bad about other teachers, even if you disagree with their methods. Similarly, don’t display negative or critical opinions of any of your students.
2
Ask your students to help you set positive expectations about bullying. Kids and teens are more likely to follow the rules if they help set them. Talk to your students about the kind of classroom they want, and how they think they should act in class. Then, create 3-5 positive classroom expectations that your students agree to meet. [8] X Trustworthy Source StopBullying.gov Website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullying Go to source For younger students, say something like, “I want you guys to feel safe and happy here. How do you want your classmates to treat you?” For younger kids, classroom expectations might include, “Be nice,” “Take turns,” and “Use kind words.” If you have older students, you might say, “I want our classroom to be a safe, productive space. What kind of rules do you guys think could help us achieve that?” For older students, your expectations might include, “Respect each other’s thoughts, beliefs, and space,” “Speak kindly,” and “Use words to express yourself.”
3
Create relationships with your students so they feel supported. You’re likely already trying to build relationships with your students so you can give them the support they need. If you’re not already, start greeting them at the door every day so they feel seen and heard. Get to know your students, and check up on them so they see that you care. Invite your students to come to you anytime if they need help with anything, including bullying. [9] X Trustworthy Source StopBullying.gov Website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullying Go to source Having positive relationships with your students can help them create better relationships with each other. Additionally, it helps all of your students feel loved and included in the classroom. This may help prevent students from acting out through bullying, and it also increases the likelihood that your students will feel comfortable talking to you if bullying does occur.
4
Have students work together so they get to know each other. Your students are less likely to bully each other if they’re on friendly terms. Incorporate group activities on a weekly basis to help them make connections with each other. While they’re working together, monitor their interactions so you can step in if necessary. [10] X Research source Redirect students if you hear negative comments coming from a group member. If you notice some groups aren’t interacting as much, ask them questions to get a conversation started.
5
Help students who have trouble fitting in make friends. It’s totally normal for some kids to struggle with making friends. Unfortunately, these kids are often at a greater risk of experiencing bullying. Match them with students you think they’ll get along with to help them make a friend. You could try assigning them to be classroom partners, putting them in a group together, or asking the other student to talk to them. [11] X Trustworthy Source American Psychological Association Leading scientific and professional organization of licensed psychologists Go to source In elementary school, you might partner the students together. If the students are teens or preteens, ask a trustworthy, kind student to take the friendless student under their wing. If the student doesn’t want to make friends, arrange activities for them so they don’t have to eat lunch or play alone. You might ask them to help you with a fun task during recess or could help them engage in a hobby, like art or playing on the computer, during lunch.
6
Create an anti-bullying program at your school if you don’t have one. Anti-bullying programs educate kids about bullying and teach them how to stop it. Partner with students, parents, and other teachers to create a program for your school. Then, plan activities for your program. Here are some you might try: [12] X Trustworthy Source StopBullying.gov Website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullying Go to source Host workshops about bullying. Invite a guest speaker to talk to the students about bullying. Ask students to make signs about bullying to hang around the school. Educate parents about bullying and what to watch for.
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Method 3 of 3:
Dealing with Bullying Behaviors

Image titled Stargaze Comfortably Step 15
1
Identify bullying hotspots around your school so staff can monitor them. You’re probably doing everything you can to make sure no one gets bullied on your watch. However, bullying often occurs in areas that aren’t supervised as well, like bathrooms, gym locker rooms, the cafeteria, hallways, and staircases. Look for areas in your school that are less supervised, and work with your fellow teachers to keep an eye on them. [13] X Research source For instance, you might take turns patrolling the hotspots during times students might be there. Cyberbullying is currently a big problem for students and may be hard for you to monitor, especially if students are allowed to use their phones at school. You can help by limiting how much time students spend on their phone in class and watching their body language while they're on their devices. If a student looks upset, talk to them.[14] X Trustworthy Source StopBullying.gov Website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullying Go to source
2
Encourage students to report bullying behaviors. Some students may not want to report bullying because they think it’s tattling or because they’re afraid they’ll be next. Tell your students that it’s good to report bullying and promise to protect them if they do. Additionally, give students opportunities to report bullying anonymously so they feel empowered to speak up without repercussions. [15] X Trustworthy Source StopBullying.gov Website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullying Go to source Say something like, "We need your help to keep our school safe for everyone. If you see something, say something." You might tell students that they can send an anonymous email or can put a note in the box they use to turn in work. There are apps to report bullying anonymously. You might check with your school administration to see if that’s an option.
3
Watch for early signals of bullying behavior so you can address them. Typically, bullies start with other negative behaviors before they progress to actual bullying. Monitor your students for these types of behaviors so you can intervene early. If you spot your student doing any of the following, talk to them or arrange a meeting with their counselor: [16] X Research source Name calling Eye rolling Laughing at others or encouraging others to laugh Turning their back Prolonged staring at others Excluding or avoiding others Spying on or stalking others Harming others
4
Address bullying behavior as soon as it occurs. You’ll likely feel really upset if you see your students bullying another student. If this happens, stay calm and intervene immediately. Get between the students and remind them of your school’s rules about bullying. Then, separate the students and talk to them separately. [17] X Research source You might get between the students and say, "Stop! We all need to calm down now!" or "Everyone to the counselor's office now!" Ask other adults to help if that’s possible. Don’t ask about what happened while all of the kids are together, as this might cause more conflict or hurt feelings. If you haven’t witnessed bullying but suspect a student is being bullied, pull that student aside and talk to them privately.[18] X Trustworthy Source StopBullying.gov Website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullying Go to source
Image titled Get Over a Guy Who Doesn't Like You Step 9
5
Support all of the kids involved in a bullying situation to help stop it. It’s normal to be upset with a student who’s bullied others, but don’t treat that student any differently. As their teacher, it’s important for you to build a positive relationship with all of your students. Do your best to be there for the kids and encourage them to talk to you if they’re having a problem. [19] X Research source You might say to the bullied student, "I'm sorry you experienced that. I want you to know that I care about you, and I'm here anytime you need to talk." To the student who bullied, you might say, "I know your behavior earlier didn't reflect who you really are inside. I know you can do better, and I'm here for you if you need help." If the student who engaged in bullying feels like teachers think of them as a bully, they’ll be more likely to repeat that behavior.
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Method 1 of 3:
Teaching Kids about Bullying

Image titled Understand Your Teachers in School when You Have Hearing Loss Step 3
1
Use stories and movies to help students understand bullying. Sometimes kids bully each other because they don’t know any better. They may have learned the behavior from watching others, or they might just think it’s all in fun. Teach students to recognize right and wrong ways to treat each other by reading stories or watching movies about bullying. Ask students to think about how each character feels and what the characters could do differently. [1] X Research source For instance, you might use short fiction about bullying when practicing reading comprehension. Younger students may enjoy short stories, while older students might study a novel. Similarly, you might watch a short cartoon with younger students or a movie with older students. You can find pre-made lessons about bullying online if you don’t want to make your own.[2] X Trustworthy Source National Education Association Union of professional teachers devoted to promoting the success of the public education system by advocating on behalf of teachers and students. Go to source
2
Give students reflection activities to help them recognize emotions. Kids and teens are still developing, so they may not be able to name their emotions. Similarly, they might have trouble understanding what someone else is experiencing. Teach your students to explore and acknowledge their feelings. Then, ask them to imagine how other students might feel when they’re bullied. [3] X Trustworthy Source StopBullying.gov Website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullying Go to source You could work these lessons into your warm-up activities or might include the exercises as part of a larger assignment that's already in your curriculum. For instance, you might give your students a worksheet with various scenarios on it, like getting a bad grade, being left out of an activity, or hearing gossip about yourself. Ask the students to write down how that experience makes them feel. Adjust the scenarios to fit your students’ age group. You could also give your students journaling activities designed to help them work through their emotions.
3
Do roleplaying activities to help kids learn how to respond to bullying. Students may feel really shocked when they’re the target of or witness to bullying, and they may have trouble figuring out what to say. Roleplaying allows kids and teens to practice speaking up and helps them get ideas from each other about what to say. Write a few short bullying scenes, then get students to act them out. Ask the class to brainstorm ways to respond to the bullying as both victim and witness. [4] X Research source At first, lead a discussion about how students might respond. Later, have students play a bystander and let them practice intervening. Make sure the students take turns playing the “bully” and “the victim.”
4
Use bullying incidents as a teaching moment for all students. Hopefully, you won’t catch any of your students bullying others. If you do, however, use it as an opportunity to talk about bullying with any students who witnessed the incident. Review your classroom expectations, then ask students to reflect on why the bullying incident was wrong. As you do this, don’t shame the bully or the victim, as this creates more harm. [5] X Research source Keep the focus on the behavior, not the students involved. If an entire class witnessed the bullying incident, you might ask them to each write a short paragraph about why the bullying behavior was wrong. If only a few students saw the incident, you could simply talk to the students and ask for their thoughts on the issue.
5
Get students to sign an anti-bullying contract to get them on board. While it may sound silly, students are less likely to bully others if you use anti-bullying contracts. In your contract, include your classroom behavioral expectations and a promise to abstain from all bullying behaviors. Ask students to read and sign the form, then keep it on file. [6] X Trustworthy Source American Psychological Association Leading scientific and professional organization of licensed psychologists Go to source Your form might say something like, “I promise to never bully other students, either verbally, physically, or online. I promise to treat everyone with kindness and respect at all times. Finally, I promise to tell an adult if I see someone else bullying.” If a student is caught or accused of bullying, show them their contract to remind them of their commitment.
Advertisement

Method 2 of 3:
Creating a Positive Classroom Environment

Image titled Not Be Intimidated by Other Girls Step 21
1
Model kindness and empathy for your students. You set the standard for how you expect your students to act. Treat everyone with respect, including students and other teachers. Similarly, maintain a kind, but firm, tone of voice when you speak, even while you’re upset. This shows students how you expect them to behave. [7] X Research source For example, don’t talk bad about other teachers, even if you disagree with their methods. Similarly, don’t display negative or critical opinions of any of your students.
2
Ask your students to help you set positive expectations about bullying. Kids and teens are more likely to follow the rules if they help set them. Talk to your students about the kind of classroom they want, and how they think they should act in class. Then, create 3-5 positive classroom expectations that your students agree to meet. [8] X Trustworthy Source StopBullying.gov Website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullying Go to source For younger students, say something like, “I want you guys to feel safe and happy here. How do you want your classmates to treat you?” For younger kids, classroom expectations might include, “Be nice,” “Take turns,” and “Use kind words.” If you have older students, you might say, “I want our classroom to be a safe, productive space. What kind of rules do you guys think could help us achieve that?” For older students, your expectations might include, “Respect each other’s thoughts, beliefs, and space,” “Speak kindly,” and “Use words to express yourself.”
3
Create relationships with your students so they feel supported. You’re likely already trying to build relationships with your students so you can give them the support they need. If you’re not already, start greeting them at the door every day so they feel seen and heard. Get to know your students, and check up on them so they see that you care. Invite your students to come to you anytime if they need help with anything, including bullying. [9] X Trustworthy Source StopBullying.gov Website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullying Go to source Having positive relationships with your students can help them create better relationships with each other. Additionally, it helps all of your students feel loved and included in the classroom. This may help prevent students from acting out through bullying, and it also increases the likelihood that your students will feel comfortable talking to you if bullying does occur.
4
Have students work together so they get to know each other. Your students are less likely to bully each other if they’re on friendly terms. Incorporate group activities on a weekly basis to help them make connections with each other. While they’re working together, monitor their interactions so you can step in if necessary. [10] X Research source Redirect students if you hear negative comments coming from a group member. If you notice some groups aren’t interacting as much, ask them questions to get a conversation started.
5
Help students who have trouble fitting in make friends. It’s totally normal for some kids to struggle with making friends. Unfortunately, these kids are often at a greater risk of experiencing bullying. Match them with students you think they’ll get along with to help them make a friend. You could try assigning them to be classroom partners, putting them in a group together, or asking the other student to talk to them. [11] X Trustworthy Source American Psychological Association Leading scientific and professional organization of licensed psychologists Go to source In elementary school, you might partner the students together. If the students are teens or preteens, ask a trustworthy, kind student to take the friendless student under their wing. If the student doesn’t want to make friends, arrange activities for them so they don’t have to eat lunch or play alone. You might ask them to help you with a fun task during recess or could help them engage in a hobby, like art or playing on the computer, during lunch.
6
Create an anti-bullying program at your school if you don’t have one. Anti-bullying programs educate kids about bullying and teach them how to stop it. Partner with students, parents, and other teachers to create a program for your school. Then, plan activities for your program. Here are some you might try: [12] X Trustworthy Source StopBullying.gov Website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullying Go to source Host workshops about bullying. Invite a guest speaker to talk to the students about bullying. Ask students to make signs about bullying to hang around the school. Educate parents about bullying and what to watch for.
Advertisement

Method 3 of 3:
Dealing with Bullying Behaviors

Image titled Stargaze Comfortably Step 15
1
Identify bullying hotspots around your school so staff can monitor them. You’re probably doing everything you can to make sure no one gets bullied on your watch. However, bullying often occurs in areas that aren’t supervised as well, like bathrooms, gym locker rooms, the cafeteria, hallways, and staircases. Look for areas in your school that are less supervised, and work with your fellow teachers to keep an eye on them. [13] X Research source For instance, you might take turns patrolling the hotspots during times students might be there. Cyberbullying is currently a big problem for students and may be hard for you to monitor, especially if students are allowed to use their phones at school. You can help by limiting how much time students spend on their phone in class and watching their body language while they're on their devices. If a student looks upset, talk to them.[14] X Trustworthy Source StopBullying.gov Website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullying Go to source
2
Encourage students to report bullying behaviors. Some students may not want to report bullying because they think it’s tattling or because they’re afraid they’ll be next. Tell your students that it’s good to report bullying and promise to protect them if they do. Additionally, give students opportunities to report bullying anonymously so they feel empowered to speak up without repercussions. [15] X Trustworthy Source StopBullying.gov Website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullying Go to source Say something like, "We need your help to keep our school safe for everyone. If you see something, say something." You might tell students that they can send an anonymous email or can put a note in the box they use to turn in work. There are apps to report bullying anonymously. You might check with your school administration to see if that’s an option.
3
Watch for early signals of bullying behavior so you can address them. Typically, bullies start with other negative behaviors before they progress to actual bullying. Monitor your students for these types of behaviors so you can intervene early. If you spot your student doing any of the following, talk to them or arrange a meeting with their counselor: [16] X Research source Name calling Eye rolling Laughing at others or encouraging others to laugh Turning their back Prolonged staring at others Excluding or avoiding others Spying on or stalking others Harming others
4
Address bullying behavior as soon as it occurs. You’ll likely feel really upset if you see your students bullying another student. If this happens, stay calm and intervene immediately. Get between the students and remind them of your school’s rules about bullying. Then, separate the students and talk to them separately. [17] X Research source You might get between the students and say, "Stop! We all need to calm down now!" or "Everyone to the counselor's office now!" Ask other adults to help if that’s possible. Don’t ask about what happened while all of the kids are together, as this might cause more conflict or hurt feelings. If you haven’t witnessed bullying but suspect a student is being bullied, pull that student aside and talk to them privately.[18] X Trustworthy Source StopBullying.gov Website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullying Go to source
Image titled Get Over a Guy Who Doesn't Like You Step 9
5
Support all of the kids involved in a bullying situation to help stop it. It’s normal to be upset with a student who’s bullied others, but don’t treat that student any differently. As their teacher, it’s important for you to build a positive relationship with all of your students. Do your best to be there for the kids and encourage them to talk to you if they’re having a problem. [19] X Research source You might say to the bullied student, "I'm sorry you experienced that. I want you to know that I care about you, and I'm here anytime you need to talk." To the student who bullied, you might say, "I know your behavior earlier didn't reflect who you really are inside. I know you can do better, and I'm here for you if you need help." If the student who engaged in bullying feels like teachers think of them as a bully, they’ll be more likely to repeat that behavior.
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