Anti-Bullying & Safe Schools
A Guide for Schools (PrevNET)
This collection of resources comes PrevNET. PREVNet is an umbrella network of 130 leading Canadian research scientists and 62 national youth-serving organizations. This national network is the first of its kind in Canada, providing an unprecedented opportunity to change the way we understand and deal with bullying problems in this country.
Helping Students Who Are Bullied
Teach Social Skills
Kids who are bullied often find it difficult to stand up for themselves. Encourage students who are bullied to be assertive: use role-playing and coach students on how to act (looking people in the eye) and say confidently that bullying behaviour is not OK. Help them determine if there is anything they are doing to make the problem worse.
Encourage students who are bullied to participate in activities they enjoy or are good at to help them build self-esteem. Highlight their talents for other students to see; this can help them change their reputation in the peer group and reduce their chances of being bullied.
Encourage Children To Report
Make sure your students know that it is a teacher’s job to deal with bullying and all incidents should be reported. Clarify the difference between tattling and telling: tattling is what you do to get someone in trouble; telling is what you do to get someone out of trouble. Provide alternative ways to report bullying at school – an anonymous bullying box can help children who may be uncomfortable about coming forward.
It takes courage for children to report bullying, be ready to listen.
Helping Students Who Bully
Change they way they use their power
Kids who bully need help developing problem-solving skills that don’t involve aggression. Provide them with opportunities to use their natural leadership skills in a positive way, for example, get them to teach younger students a new sport or skill. Help kids who bully resist peer pressure by letting them know you believe they can change their behaviour.
Acknowledge positive behaviours
Encourage positive connections among children by praising respectful and cooperative behaviour whenever it happens. Try and focus on the positive behaviours of all students, even when they need correcting. Children are works in progress – they can’t always get it right – they learn through trial and error.
Consequences that teach, not punish
Children who bully need help in understanding the impact of their actions. Formative consequences are designed to send the message that bullying is unacceptable while also providing support for children who bully to learn the social skills and empathy they may lack.
Formative Consequences for Students Who Bully
Have students create a poster, collage, or drawing of what it must feel like to be bullied. Talk about the feelings that children who are bullied might experience: shame, embarrassment, anger, fear or sadness.
Assign students a research project where they have to learn about the prevalence, nature, and consequences of bullying and write a paper or create a class presentation based on their findings.
Have the students who bully interview an adult or older student about their bullying experiences and the impact it had on him/her.
Assign a project requiring the students who bully to research a historical figure or celebrity who has been bullied.
Have the students read a novel about bullying and write a character study (e.g., Blubber by Judy Blume)
Have the students watch a movie about bullying and describe the characters and the consequences of their actions (e.g., Mean Girls, Back to the Future). Encourage them to focus on the feelings of the victimized character. Help them to identify these feelings by looking out for facial expressions, body posture, and tone of voice.
Have your students identify instances of bullying in the media (e.g., television, newspapers, radio, magazines, websites) and talk with them about their reactions to these instances.
Talk with your students about their own strengths and weaknesses and how they can use power to help, not hurt, others.
What Teachers Can Do in the Classroom
Advocate for individual children
Model appropriate relationship skills
Create a warm and inclusive environment
Promote positive attitudes and values
Supervise, manage, and monitor children’s interactions
Promote positive group activities
Ensure safety and inclusion of all children
Address early signs of relationship problems to prevent bullying
Intervene early – and often
Intervention programs need to be implemented in the early elementary grades - before aggressive behaviour, or a sense of victimization in a vulnerable child, become deeply entrenched. Even with early intervention, forms of bullying evolve as kids age, meaning they will require support for bullying throughout their school careers. Always stop bullying in the moment it occurs so children will know that the behaviour - whether it is name-calling, pushing or social exclusion - is not acceptable.
Choose groups for your students
Our data shows that children who bully have friends who bully and they reinforce each other’s behaviour. Organizing groups, activities and seating arrangements to promote inclusion and tolerance is an important strategy for teachers to adopt. If children are allowed to make these decisions, students who are bullied will always be left out and humiliated and students who bully will congregate in groups. Surround kids who are bullied with other students who will stick up for them. Break up groups of kids who act aggressively together. By creating balanced groups with a diverse mix of kids, you can ensure that everyone is included and respected.
Establish a code of conduct
Involve students in developing a code of conduct and what they consider to be acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. If children are responsible for creating a class policy around bullying, they are more likely to follow and enforce it with their friends. Post the code of conduct to remind children (and adults) about what will and will not be tolerated at school.
Example of Code of Conduct Statement:
We take pride in our classroom and take care of our belongings and will respect what belongs to others.
Everyone is different which makes us all interesting. We will respect the different cultures and religions and experiences of our classmates.
If someone asks us to stop teasing them - we will stop.
If someone is being bullied - we will stand up for them.
We know words hurt! We will be careful how we talk to each other and not use words to hurt another student.
If we have a disagreement with another student, we will try to talk it out. If we can’t, we will ask the teacher to help us.
The difference between teasing and bullying.
Webinars and resources for families for staying safe online.
Workshop: Supporting youth in our digital world
This online workshop from TELUS for parents and those who support youth offers tips on navigating screen time, gaming, sexting, cyberbullying and more. Access the workshop.