Bullying and harassment, including cyberbullying, are unfortunately a common occurrence in our schools today. With over 30% of students in grades 6-12 reporting that they have been bullied, and over 70% of students indicating that they have witnessed bullying in their schools, bullying and harassment have become major problems for which we must find immediate solutions. Students who are bullies and students who are the victims of bullying and harassment are more likely to feel anxiety, isolated, depressed, exclusion, despair, and in extreme cases suicidal. Students who bully and are bullied are also more likely to underperform in school, skip school, and/or drop out of school.
As educators, we know that most schools have, with great intentions, tried some form of a bully prevention program. However schools continue to have ongoing problems with bullying and harassment, which calls to question the effectiveness of our methods. Schools often engage in ineffective efforts such as inadvertently teaching “bullying”, blaming the bully, ignoring the role of bystanders, lack of understanding of the bully-victim, non-data based interventions, and the continued implementation of these often costly efforts with no sustained results. So what should we do? What are some effective harassment and bullying prevention strategies that can be implemented that will help alleviate these types of problems in our schools?
According to PBIS, the core features of an effective bully prevention program can be divided into student skills and faculty/staff skills. Since only 20-30% of bullying incidents that occur are reported to adults it is imperative any program that is implemented include components that teach our children how to recognize and respond to bullying and teach the adults who supervise our children how to respond when they observe bullying as well as how to respond when a child reports it. This blog will focus on student skills.
The importance of focusing on creating a positive schoolwide culture and climate can never be understated. To begin implementing an Anti-Bullying program in a school with a toxic environment would not be recommended. You must begin with solid school wide systems to manage student behavior. This initial strategy is important because it provides students with clear expectations regarding their behavior, as well as lessons about how things should be done in school. Procedures and routines are often just as important as rules, consequences, and rewards in a school setting. The presence of school wide systems can dramatically increase time on task in classrooms, appropriate behavior, and student learning, while the lack of systems can lead to teacher frustrations, inappropriate behavior, and school suspensions.
PBIS recommends that four skills/strategies be taught to students in an effective bullying prevention plan.
A Stop Routine teaches children strategies to use in a situation where disrespectful behavior occurs. It is important for students to utilize these strategies to stop the problem behavior before it escalates.
An example of the steps of a STOP ROUTINE are:
A Bystander Stop Routine is used in a situation where a student observes another student being treated disrespectfully. It is important for that student (the bystander) to utilize the steps in an effort to stop the problem behavior before it escalates and to provide the recipient support. An example of a Bystander Stop Routine is:
If you observe someone using the stop strategy, and the perpetrator doesn’t stop, do one or all of the following three things:
A Stopping Routine is used in a situation where a student asks another student to stop behaving disrespectfully. It is important for the accused student to utilize the following steps in an effort to de-escalate the situation. An example of a Stopping Routine is:
If someone uses the school-wide stop phrase toward you:
Finally, a Recruit to Help Routine is used in a situation where the recipient of disrespectful behavior has attempted to stop the behavior, yet the problem behavior continues. It is important for the student recipient to follow an established school procedure of reporting the bullying to an adult if they feel unsafe.
Here at Kickboard we have seen schools transformed by implementing an effective bully prevention program. Click here learn more about the resources that Kickboard has available that can help with the successful implementation of PBIS in your school.