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10 Ways to Prevent Bullying in Your Classroom

Children and teens experience various life events during their school years. However, bullying is not something any child should experience. Unfortunately, bullying happens all too frequently. Bullying does not just affect the bully and the person being bullied. The effects of bullying ripple through all who engage in it, encourage it, are on the receiving end, or witness it.

As a teacher, you have a lot on your plate. You have been asked to complete tasks for parents, the school board, the principal, etc. Additionally, you have been asked to stop bullying in your classroom. It may seem like an impossible task. However, here are ten ways you can help prevent bullying in your classroom.

1. Clearly Define the Term 'Bullying'

The first thing you must do is put in writing a clear definition of bullying. How can you expect students to change their behavior or report bullying if they do not understand what a bully is? Take the time to define what bullying entails. Display your definition so that the students can see it every day.

2. Set Clear Rules and Expectations

Make rules and expectations that are easy to remember and enforce. If you teach grade school children, your rules will differ from those for a high school sophomore. So make sure your rules are age appropriate.

In addition, your rules and expectations need to be attainable. You don't want to make it too easy, but your expectations will likely backfire if you set the bar too high.

3. Provide Positive Feedback

If students are always getting in trouble, what motivation do they have to change their behavior? Take the time to point out positive things you see the students do. The more you point out good things, the more likely the student will repeat the positive behavior.

Children, people in general for that matter, do not respond well to constant correction or criticism. They need to feel like they are doing something good or right.

4. Create Open Communication Channels

Keep the line of communication open between you and your students. The more students know you are listening and willing to listen, the chances increase they will come to you when they encounter bullying behavior. 

5. Watch for Signs of Bullying

This suggestion may sound like bullying is already happening. That is a possibility. You are not superhuman and may miss the initial bullying behavior. However, if you keep an eye out for signs of someone being bullied or engaging in bullying, you can intervene before things escalate.

6. Empower Bystanders to Act

Encourage bystanders to report bullying. We teach children not to tattle, but there are circumstances where that idea needs to go out the window. In cases of bullying, students who witness it should feel encouraged to stand up against it without fear of retaliation.

7. Discuss Safe Ways to Report Bullying

Bystanders and bullied students need safe ways to report things without being labeled as "snitches." Students being bullied and those who see it happen don't often report it because they fear retaliation. Students need to have a way to report bullying without others finding out who reported them.

You may choose various methods of reporting bullying, such as an anonymous "suggestion box" or online form. Either way, you receive the relevant information, and the reporting student is protected.

8. No Cliques in Your Classroom

Social cliques create opportunities for students to be bullied or ostracized. When you have a group assignment, assign groups instead of letting them choose their partners. By assigning groups, you teach students to work with those outside their social circle.

9. Build a Community in Your Classroom

Work to foster a sense of community in your classroom. Students generally do better when they feel they are part of something. By creating a positive community culture in your classroom, you are helping meet the needs of your students.

10. Speak with Offenders Separately

When bullying does happen, do not speak to the bully and the person on the receiving end together. Instead, talk to them separately. You can learn much about what is happening by talking to everyone separately. In addition, you may uncover information about the bully you wouldn't have known otherwise.

Stopping bullying is not going to happen overnight. However, the more you do to help prevent it, the closer we all get to stopping such behavior.

Written by Jenika Woodward
Education World Contributor
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