The rise of new technologies like the Internet and Web 2.0 properties has made communication and interaction even easier, and these technologies have been eagerly embraced by the youngest generations. As great as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter are, they have also contributed to an age old problem for children: bullying in school. Kids used to have a way out – going home to avoid the bullies. Now, a bully can find and torment someone wherever they are if they have access to a computer and an Internet connection. Those looking for ways to prevent bullying in schools need to see the big picture – it’s not just about schools, but about society in general, and the way technology is implicated in this problem.
For anyone who is being bullied, or for parents of those threatened by bullying, or for teachers and professionals in education environments, more education and action is required to stem this growing problem. To that end, here are twenty-two ways to prevent bulling, both in schools and online:
- First, here are some ideas for preventing bullying in schools. Make sure everyone in the school, student and staff alike, understand the school’s zero-tolerance position on bullying. The school should properly communicate the values that everyone intends to follow – compassing, kindness, empathy, and honor.
- To start, there’s plenty of literature and products out there that address the bullying problem, some better than others.
- This applies not only to students, but also to teachers. The only thing worse than a student bully is a teacher bully, especially when the teacher doesn’t realize what he or she is doing. In addition, teachers should always be modeling the values that the school wants to instill in the students.
- Do a survey to find out what kind of bullying goes on in the school. The problem remains woefully underreported, since many students don’t want to blow the whistle on the problem and become more of a target. Thus, an anonymous survey will help teachers, adminstrators, and parents know what kind of bullying is occuring in and out of school. Without knowledge, no problem can be fixed.
- In individual cases where bullies and victims are identified, the bully’s parents should be notified by the school of the problem. Hopefully, the bully’s parents will discipline their child so that the activity will decrease or stop.
- A system should be put in place where students can easily communicate bullying problems to the school. This is one of the key ways to stop bullying, as bringing it out in the open and to the attention of people in power is the only way to fix the situation if it doesn’t fix itself. If possible, it should be anonymized in order to encourage students to make reports. Students should know that it is not ‘snitching’ to do this, but rather that unchecked bullying is unjust. Bullied students won’t do this themselves, so their peers will have to help them out in order for the problem to be rectified.
- If a bully is identified, and he or she doesn’t change behavior, the school should discipline the bully in a way that won’t make the problem worse. What exactly occurs for the punishment will depend on a case by case basis; but it should address the needs of the victim while also providing the bully with an outlet to communicate and express their viewpoint – there are always two sides to the same story.
- Students who are being bullied should also learn how to prevent bullying themselves, and how to deal with the bullying whenever it arises. The main rule is: don’t escalate the situation. Responding in any way – aggressively or defensively – could embolden the bully to attack more, as it is the reaction that the bully seeks. Seminars and other programs can be held to equip all students with the skills they need to ignore, identify, and eliminate bullying.
- All teachers and staff should be trained on how to recognize and identify bullying. They know their students best, so they will have a better idea than most on when a student is being targeted. Symptoms can be as overt as crying and fear or as subtle as withdrawal or avoidance.
- Bullies should never be demonized. It is very likely that a bully is being bullied in some part of their life. They often have problems at home that precipitate these issues. Thus, a bully him or herself needs help and guidance to get through this period. They are not simply ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ – treating them this way will only cure the symptoms, not the disease.
- Students who are being bullied should try to avoid being alone. When they are alone, they are easy targets to bullies.
- Students who are being bullied should find ways to raise their own self esteem. Athletics, music, art, and other pursuits will take their mind off the torment by giving them a creative outlet to grow and find friends.
- Victims of bullies should get the psychological support they need, especially if they are not getting it from home. Many ‘weak’ students are that way due to an unsettled home, and they may not be getting the help they need from parents and friends.
- Get away from the myths about bullying – that it’s just harmless, or kids’ stuff, or “boys will be boys.” The bullying teachers see will be a fraction of what lies below the surface. In addition, setting the tone to allow even the smallest amounts of bullying communicates that bullying is OK to all students.
- The other aspect of this equation is the bullying that goes on outside of school on the Internet. Parents and school officials should add ways to prevent cyberbullying to their arsenal in order to address the problem off school grounds. There’s also plenty of information out there that can help you combat cyber-bullying.
- Much of the efforts to stop cyber-bullying will be in the hands of parents. The first rule: Kids should not be allowed to use computers unsupervised.
- Don’t let any detected cyberbullying go unaddressed. Even one incident can be devastating given the way the repercussions can spread to other students easily through the online medium.
- Parents and students should talk about cyberbullying. Students should know to report any problems concerning them or their friends to their parents, even if it may seem minor.
- Students should also learn how to use the relevant software features to block people’s posts and cut off contact with certain users in the event of a bully gaining access to a victim.
- Kids have different ideas about privacy today – they often put too much online without thinking. They should learn the importance of privacy online, and they should share as little identifying information as possible.
- Kids should never accept friend requests or e-mails or chats from strangers.
- Cyberbullying also occurs through cell phones, so students’ cell phone use should be monitored as well.
Any more ways? Leave them in the comments!