HOW CAN YOU HELP PREVENT BULLYING?
Even if there aren’t any incidents of bullying going on in your classroom at the moment, you can still create a safe, bully-free zone to make students feel safe and able to talk to you if anything’s bothering them.
Let students know that you’re able to help. Make sure that your pupils know that they can talk to you if anything is worrying them. Especially with things that are going on online, students are often hesitant about going to talk to their teachers, for fear of being judged or told off. Make your students aware of the fact that you’re always available if they want someone to speak to – and that you’ll never pass any information on without telling them first.
Put time aside to have lessons on using the internet safely and responsibly. There are many great resources that explain the issues of cyberbullying to children in a clear, informative way. Making children aware of what is acceptable behaviour online will help them recognise the signs of bullying, so that they can get help before things escalate. Reading books as a class, and identifying any bullying to the children, can also work, as this gives children an idea of what the warning signs are.
Remind them to follow the rules. Most social media sites have an age restriction of 13 years old. Despite this, many children from as young as 8 years old have Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. Although there isn’t much that you can do to prevent this, reminding children of these rules, and explaining why these rules exist, will help them to understand that social media can be dangerous, especially for young people.
Be firm with little incidents. Although some things, such as name-calling, don’t appear too serious at first, make children aware that this isn’t acceptable behaviour, even if it is intended as a joke. Little things often build up, and being firm at the beginning could prevent bullying before it escalates.
HOW CAN YOU DEAL WITH INCIDENTS OF BULLYING?
It can sometimes be difficult to deal with bullying effectively. Young children can become upset very quickly, and it’s crucial that nobody feels uncomfortable at school after the incident has been dealt with. Here are some ideas on how you can handle the situation:
Speak to each child separately first. It’s important that you hear each side of the story without the children feeling like they can’t say certain things because of somebody else. Make each child comfortable and don’t raise your voice – be calm and let them talk to you.
Speak to the the child/children who carried out the bullying and ask them why they did it. Often, children bully others to gain attention, or because something is going on at home. Try not to sound accusing and listen to their reasons.
Speak to the parents. Explain what has been going on and ask them to talk to their children as well. Children will be more willing to open up to their parents, so this can help you understand the situation a bit more.
Be wary of sanctions. Punishments such as staying inside at break time can often be ineffective and instead cause resentment and upset. Try to stay away from punishments that don’t relate to bullying- losing play time makes sense if someone wasn’t paying attention in lessons, but less so for bullying. Instead, focus on correcting behaviour and helping the bully build positive relationships with the other children. Chat with them regularly and make sure that they are feeling ok. Children who are happy and comfortable are less likely to repeat incidents of bullying.
Don’t force friendships. Although you should encourage the bullies to apologise, avoid using language such as “make friends” or “be friends again”. Children should feel like they have their own choice when it comes to choosing their friends, and there is no obligation to like somebody just because they have apologised. Instead, make sure that all parties treat each other with respect.