We’ve written a few times about bullying here at the Invictus blog. Check out our infographic on bullying and our white paper on bullying. Today I want to talk about the important pillars of an effective anti-bullying campaign at schools.
Most schools have some sort of no bullying and harassment policy in their student handbook, but a single paragraph hidden in the middle of your student handbook isn’t enough. Make sure to include these fundamentals as you work towards improving your school’s anti-bullying policy.
Define Bullying. Make sure your no bullying policy as laid out in the student handbook has a clear definition of what constitutes bullying. This way both students and teachers will recognize it when they see it. Place posters around the school to remind faculty and students about the definition and policy.
Specific Measures and Repercussions to Handle Bullying. Make sure that students know the concrete steps and repercussions that will result from bullying. These may include things such as notifying parents, having parents come in for a meeting, changing a child’s environment, suspension, counseling, etc.
Commitment from Teachers. Teachers are overworked and overwhelmed in schools these days. Adding yet another commitment to their work load often meets with resistance from teachers. Do what you can as an administrator to get buy-in from your faculty – they are the ones on the front lines who often witness it happening and can stop it.
Cooperation from Parents. Parents need to reinforce the concepts of not bullying at home. Have both parents and students sign the no bullying policy – this will give some of the responsibility to the parents.
Agreement from Students to Report Bullying. Students often don’t report bullying because they fear retaliation, they are ashamed, they fear they won’t be believed, they fear being labeled a snitch, or they fear arousing the ire of the bully on themselves if they’re a bystander to the bullying. If bullying occurs out of sight of teachers and the students aren’t reporting the incidents, it is very hard to rectify the situation. Help students understand that reporting bullying is important.
Educational Seminars for Faculty and Students. Videos, games, role playing, listening to speakers, and having small group discussions about bullying help both children and adults learn what bullying is and why it is unacceptable. The more understanding people have, the more likely they are to buy in to the policy and help enforce it.
Renewed Efforts Annually. An annual review of the policy by administration; annual singing of the policy by faculty, students, and staff; annual seminars; and annual anti-bullying campaigns are necessary to keep the problem under control. Don’t assume that once you have a no bullying policy in your student handbook and have put a few posters up around the hallways that your work is done. In order to be truly effective, your efforts need to be renewed annually.