A learning environment should be a place where children are not fearful of bullying. Yet far too often children experience some type of bullying, which can be personally hurtful and a distraction from their education. In fact, approximately 36 percent of kids report having been bullied. And it's likely that even more bullying occurs, but goes unreported. As this behavior has become more prevalent, teachers have been learning how to intervene when bullying enters the classroom. Researchers have found that when a peer or teacher gets involved, more than half of the bullying situations stop.
What can teachers do to intervene when bullying occurs?
Set the tone
Create a classroom environment that is built on respect and pay attention to places around the school that may be more prone to bullying. Teachers should also set the tone by being clear and specific about class rules that build a climate of responsibility and respect. Make sure students know how to treat each other with respect by being an example when you lead the class.
Keep a positive attitude
Students can mimic a teacher's behavior, so it is important to keep a positive, respectful attitude when leading the class. If a teacher is teasing a student, or has a negative attitude toward a student, it can rub off on other children in the class.
Watch for the signals
Get to know your students and continually survey the classroom. Look for students who seem socially excluded or less confident, as they may be more prone to bullies or being actively bullied. Pay attention to body language and conversations among the students.
Build trusting relationships
Build trusting relationships with your students. Let them know that they can be open with you if they are being bullied and that you won't embarrass them or make fun of them. Researchers who conducted the Youth Voice Project found that students being bullied appreciate teachers who listen to them, give them advice on what to do, and check in to make sure they are no longer being bullied.
Take immediate action
If bullying is going on in your classroom or school, separate the kids immediately. If needed, get another adult to help with the situation. Then, communicate with each child in separate places, rather than together. Make sure you receive both sides of the story and do not make the kids apologize immediately after the heat of the moment. Give it some time.
Knowledge is power
Knowing when to intervene can be difficult, because every bullying situation is different. However, if you set the tone at the beginning of the school year and continually pay attention to what goes on in your classroom and around the school, you can help prevent major bullying situations. Being aware and knowing your students can also have a huge impact on the type of behavior that goes on in the classroom. When bullying does occur, take immediate action to intervene and separate students.
WIth your attention, intention, and intervention, your classroom and school can stay a safe place where children can relax, learn, and grow.