One of the saddest facts about bullying is that bullies most often target students who are already feeling left out and have low self esteem. These students are less likely to stand up to the bully, so if no one else steps in and it gets worse, they’ll become even more ostracized and develop even worse self esteem. Bullying has been shown to have long-term effects on mental health and wellness, even into adulthood, so stopping it before it starts can make a big difference in the lives of those students who are spared this horrible experience.
So how do you stop bullying? Bullying doesn’t just start in a vacuum. Students who bully tend to be those who cause trouble in other ways. They are encouraged by their friends, who are likely to participate in bullying as well. But what allows bullying to grow is a culture of students and adults who look the other way when they suspect (or know first-hand) that bullying is going on.
Community-Wide Anti-Bullying Efforts
To stop bullying, everyone who is a part of a school community needs to be both aware and willing to step up:
Parents can reinforce anti-bullying messages and expect appropriate behavior both at school and at home. Studies show that students whose parents have exceptionally harsh or exceptionally lax discipline are more likely to bully others, so maintaining a healthy, balanced discipline environment in the home actually extends to the environment of the school as well.
Teachers and administrators can lay out clear expectations by presenting anti-bullying units and programming (such as those we work to reinforce with our anti-bullying folder programs). They can also create an environment where students are encouraged to come forward about bullying without fear of being shamed by their peers.
All school staff, from crossing guards to lunchroom servers should be informed of the school’s anti-bullying policies and be willing to hold students accountable. Turning a blind eye for risk of offending parents or getting involved in a complicated situation only hurts the students, and anti-bullying policies are most effective when they’re consistently enforced.
Students should be empowered to not only refrain from bullying, but stand up for others who are in need of help. This means reporting bullying when they see it as well as making an effort to make everyone feel included.
Anti-bullying efforts must be a true community initiative, a community-wide effort. We supply anti-bullying folders to help reinforce the lessons that teachers present and to remind students daily that bullying isn’t good for anyone, and that it’s worth it to come forward and voice what’s going on.