creating a safe school climate for bullying prevention
6th October 2015
Studies show that most bullying in young people takes place at school, right outside of school, or on the school bus. According to StopBullying.org, 20 percent of U.S. students in grades nine through 12 experienced bullying during their high school career. Fifteen percent of all U.S. students were electronically, or “cyberbullied,” in the past year. Less than 30 percent of bullied students reported their experiences to grown-ups. That’s a lot of affected students, and not many of them are getting help.
With statistics like the above, it’s clear that schools are no longer safe havens for students. How can schools reduce bullying and create ways for students to report when they’re bearing the brunt end of bullying? Here are some suggestions from the National Bullying Prevention Center and other helpful resources:
Assess the school’s climate on bullying.
Before anything can change for the better in any organization (not just a school), one must take an assessment of the climate that currently exists within the organization. According to the National School Climate Center, assessments help schools establish baselines to gauge progress over time. Taking an assessment of the climate means judging, evaluating, and analyzing what the quality, morale, and character or the school is like. This will help leaders for change understanding what is needed to get the school to their desired state.
Leaders can take several different types of assessments, but surveys tend to be the most effective. Be sure to choose or create a survey that includes assessment of school personnel, parents, and students and is appropriate for each type of group. Additionally, climate assessment should protect the privacy of all parties. Many surveys are subject to the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This way, survey-takers feel free to answer questions openly and honestly.
Train faculty, staff, and students on anti-bullying education and intervention.
To truly change an organization’s environment, one must start from the inside out. School staff must know what to look for in order to help stop bullying. This means training teachers and students about what bullying is, how it happens, where it happens, and what to do about it. These trainings should be outlined in the bullying prevention plan. There are many online trainings for schools, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Here are a few training plans for teachers and staff:
- Teaching Tolerance
- The We Will Curriculum
- Teaching Students to Prevent Bullying by the National Education Association
Create and implement bullying prevention policies.
After staff is trained on what bullying is and the forms it comes in, they can begin to implement the policies needed to improve the school’s climate. At this point, school organization leaders should draw up bullying prevention policies and share them with all school stakeholders.
What do these policies look like? An anti-bullying program should contain a mission statement, a code of conduct, and outline how to create a climate that embraces the aforementioned policies. A good anti-bullying program should mimic a school’s overall handbook of rules and policies. Find examples of programs here.
Once a bullying prevention policy has been created, it needs to be integrated into student culture so it can be followed. School leaders should ease the policies into daily school interactions, such as having teachers discuss the rules in class. Students should be made to hold each other accountable to the anti-bullying rules, which can be the most difficult part of implementing the policies. Promote the policies around the school to remind students of their responsibilities. School principals can also report progress to students on a regular basis to keep them informed. StopBullying.org suggests making sure all rules are consistent with the laws of your state before integrating, though.
Add tools for network and classroom management that support anti-bullying.
According to statistics, a great deal of bullying takes place online. If only 30 percent of bullied children are reporting it, this means that a lot of bullying is silent — and probably happening right under a teacher’s nose. The knee-jerk reaction to prevent this from happening is to block all ways for students to bully each other on the Internet during school. But teachers will find themselves in tough situations if they think they can block all the handheld devices, apps, and technology found in a typical classroom.
Rather than blocking students from communicating through websites and social media, consider monitoring their online behavior instead. Implementing network and classroom management software with monitoring capabilities allows teachers and administrators to flag inappropriate conversations and then deal with them. It also allows students to have ways to report what is happening to them in a safe, calm manner.
In order to monitor students online, you must have the tools to do so. Impero Education Pro internet safety software for education is the perfect resource. Its one-of-a-kind features include comprehensive keyword libraries on bullying and abuse. The software highlights when any abusive or trigger term, phrase, or acronym has been typed by a student anywhere on the network. This library, which informs leadership when a trigger word is detected, was devised through research and by working with partnership organizations including the Anti-Bullying Alliance and partnership schools in the U.S., U.K., and across the globe.
Staff also have access to a glossary of definitions, so they don’t have to be experts in online slang (such as “Twitter beef”). This puts potential or actual bullying incidents to into context. There’s also an anonymous method of disclosure for students — the Confide system — that allows students to voice their personal concerns or concerns about their peers.
We can dream of a world where bullying isn’t common. Until then, it is everyone’s responsibility to put plans into place to help solve and deal with the reality of bullying. Staff, teachers, and students alike have a responsibility to fight this prevalent problem. We hope this information helps in that endeavor.
Find out how Impero education network management software can help your school prevent and deal with bullying by requesting free demos and trials on our website. Talk to our team of education experts by calling 877.883.4370 or emailing Impero now to arrange a call back.