Bullying in schools can take many forms and result in physical or emotional harm. The consequences of bullying can be detrimental to the victim or victims involved, so schools take this issue very seriously. In fact, by law, it is a requirement for all schools to have measures in place to prevent and tackle all forms of bullying.
There are lots of different anti-bullying methods and procedures that a school can adopt, and each school needs to decide how best to handle different situations that affect its pupils. There is no one single anti-bullying solution that will suit all schools, so a multi-faceted approach is often taken.
A successful school that tackles bullying will have clear policies in place to deal with instances of bullying. They will also look at preventing bullying from occurring in the first place.
Bullying is a really complex issue, and the motivations behind why a child might bully another child in the first place are often wide-ranging. Sitting down with pupils and involving them in discussions about bullying can have a really positive impact. Educating children about differences between pupils and embracing those differences, whether they are based on religion, ethnicity, disability or appearance, for instance, can help to foster an inclusive environment where every child is accepted and feels safe and secure. It can be useful for a school to promote anti-bullying by getting children involved with designing posters and taking part in role plays that emphasize that the school does not tolerate behavior that is hurtful or upsetting to others.
For young children, the differences between right and wrong need to be taught, so using positive-reinforcement approaches when good behaviour has occurred is just as important as recognizing when bad behavior takes place. Positive reinforcement can take many forms, including rewards such as extra playtime or stickers. Generally, it is something that a child will find of value to him or her. Working with expert organisations such as Brainwaves, who can provide different rewards for improving children’s behavior and motivation, can be a positive step to promote anti-bullying. Making use of specialist resources or organisations that have a proven track record in tackling bullying can be hugely beneficial to a school.
Successful schools should also make it easy for pupils to feel that they can report instances when bullying has occurred without any repercussions from the perpetrator. Policies should be in place to stop the behaviour from occurring again and disciplinary sanctions implemented. Schools should also involve parents and caregivers as part of this procedure.
A school also needs to regularly update and review its anti-bullying policies to ensure that they are current and take into account developments of new forms of bullying. Cyber bullying, for instance, has grown enormously in recent years with the advent of the internet, smartphones and social media. Pupils need to be educated about bullying online and what this might constitute.
A successful school will also ensure staff are fully trained to deal with bullying issues, as well as how to engage with the wider community to tackle issues. As bullying can also take place away from the school premises, a school needs to work with organisations such as the police and children’s services to crack down on any off-site bullying offences.