With the spread of cyber bullying and school violence, it is important teachers recognize the signs of victimization and learn methods to prevent bullying.

Many different opinions arose regarding the Selena Gomez-produced Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” all of which posed legitimate points surrounding teenage suicide, but the program also exposed a great problem with today’s brand of bullying and emphasized the need to prevent bullying in all forms. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, approximately 49 percent of fourth- through 12th-grade children reported being the victims of bullying by other students in their schools once or more within the same month. Nearly 32 percent of students surveyed admitted to bullying other students.

While school bullies have long made school life difficult for their victims, 20 years ago rumors might spread only through a small student population. In 2017, bullies easily spread embarrassing media, rumors, and threats through video, pictures, and social posts online, which can reach millions of people with one touch of a button. Prevent bullying through not only curtailing bully behavior, but understanding the reasons why it occurs and the strategies bullies are using.

1. Promote Responsible Social Sharing

prevent bullyingSocial media tools provide many useful opportunities to remain connected to parents and students, share educational content, and network with other teachers around the world. Used properly, social media is an excellent resource, however, when bullies share potentially damaging information about classmates, the technology can ruin a student’s life. Prevent bullying through classroom discussions regarding responsible social media use and outline the ways in which it could be harmful.

2. Bullying Beyond the Keyboard

While the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports that nine percent of students enrolled in grades six through 12 were victims of cyberbullying, traditional, face-to-face bullying remains a problem and often reaches a boiling point from issues that begin online. To prevent bullying on campus, learn the signs to help you recognize when students are being bullied, such as chronic absenteeism, a timid reaction to another child’s presence, or wariness regarding approaching an area in which a potential bully is located.

3. See Something, Do Something

prevent bullyingTeachers have authority over students, yet for some educators, especially those who teach older children that are larger and stronger, going beyond the role of teacher to that of disciplinarian, or defender, can be a bit intimidating. Some bullies might also attempt to cover up bad behavior by simply saying they were joking around; don’t buy it. It is the job of teachers to prevent bullying by intervening. If necessary, enlist the help of another teacher, administrator, or school security guard.

4. Keep an Ear to the Ground

Be aware of conversations between students, especially when they think no one is listening. Gossip is another form of bullying and what might be viewed as simple mindless chatter among students could be extremely hurtful to a classmate. Upon hearing harmful gossip about a certain student, approach the group that is engaging harmful chatting and ask about their disparaging words. Inquire about the source of the rumors and how long they’ve been circulating. Follow the trail and investigate further. If any of the gossipy students decline to answer questions, elevate the situation by involving administrators or parents as appropriate.

5. Lead the Charge Against Bullying

prevent bullyingWhile schools should have anti-bullying training implemented, the reality is that some institutions need a leader to accept responsibility to prevent bullying. If anti-bullying meetings take place among teachers, administrators, and school staff, become an engaged participant and assume a leadership role. Teachers who work in schools that do not have such resources in place should volunteer as the coordinator who will organize meetings, gather materials, and start the conversation among every staff member. A good place to start is the Bullying Preventions Training Center, which guides adults in the community through methods to prevent bullying.

Bullies don’t simply start to intimidate other students without a reason. Usually, these behaviors are a response to the poor treatment they have received from a bully themselves, who could be a parent, sibling, or peer. Keep in mind that many school bullies started as victims of bullying. Over time, bullying can wear away at the strongest students, leading to poor academic performance, reduced socialization, increased apathy, or even suicide. Every adult in a community from teachers and parents to custodians and bus drivers must become informed regarding tactics to ensure students’ safety and prevent bullying.

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