How Do We Stop Bullying in Schools?
By KARA TAMANINI, M.S., LMHC The best and most obvious way to stop bullying in schools is for parents to change the way they parent their children at home. Of course, this is much easier said than done and everyone parents their children differently. Bullies, however, come from homes where physical punishment is used and children have been taught that physical violence is the way to handle problems and “get their way.” Bullies usually also come from homes where the parents fight a lot, so violence has been modeled for them. Parental involvement often is lacking in bullies’ lives and there seems to be little warmth. Early intervention and effective discipline and boundaries truly is the best way to stop bullying, but parents of the victims or therapists cannot change the bully’s home environment. Some things can be done at the school level, however. Most school programs that address bullying use a multi-faceted approach to the problem. This usually involves counseling of some sort, either by peers, a school counselor, teachers, or the principal. Hand out questionnaires to all students and teachers and discuss if bullying is occurring. Define exactly what constitutes bullying at school. The questionnaire is a wonderful tool that allows the school to see how widespread bullying is and what forms it is taking. It is a good way to start to address the problem. Get the children’s parents involved in a bullying program. If parents of the bullies and the victims are not aware of what is going on at school, then the whole bullying program will not be effective. Stopping bullying in school takes teamwork and concentrated effort on everyone’s part. Bullying also should be discussed during parent-teacher conferences and PTA meetings. Parental awareness is key. In the classroom setting, all teachers should work with the students on bullying. Oftentimes even the teacher is being bullied in the classroom and a program should be set up that implements teaching about bullying. Children understand modeling behaviors and role-play and acting out bullying situations is a very effective tool. Have students role-play a bullying situation. Rules that involve bullying behaviors should be clearly posted. Schools also could ask local mental health professionals to speak to students about bullying behaviors and how it directly affects the victims. Schools need to make sure there is enough adult supervision at school to lessen and prevent bullying. A child who has to endure bullying usually suffers from low self-esteem and their ability to learn and be successful at school is dramatically lessened. Schools and parents must educate children about bullying behaviors; it will help all children feel safe and secure at school. Children who bully need to be taught empathy for others’ feelings in order to change their behaviors and the school must adopt a zero-tolerance policy regarding bullying.