By Teachers, For Teachers
All too often, students who have been bullied are left to defend themselves. As teachers, we can make a difference in these children’s lives. We can be their champions and plead and advocate for them. We can make a difference by taking a stand and supporting these students so they can be treated respectfully and fairly, and have a better life in school and out. In order to create this safe environment we must be our students’ biggest advocates. Here are a few anti-bullying strategies the National Educational Association suggests that we as educators can advocate for bullied students and make school a place where bullying isn’t tolerated.
By taking a stand and pledging to your students that you will not tolerate any bullying, you are showing them that you care about them and you will listen and be there for them. By pledging to your students who are bullied, you are showing them that they are not alone in this anti-bullying fight, and that no matter what they will always have someone by their side.
Research shows that bullying usually takes place somewhere on the school grounds where there is little supervision. You can be an advocate by making an effort to patrol these areas. By being present, you are showing students that you will not tolerate any bullying. Just your presence alone can hinder bullying from ever even happening. As an advocate, you are showing students that you are available in case something does happen, and that you can stop it.
Create opportunities for students to learn, role play, and share their experiences of bullying. Encourage students to report bullying and get their input on how to best stop it. Integrate bullying into your curriculum and have students brainstorm ways that you can deal with it and stop it from ever being in your school. By educating your students, you are showing them that you are supporting them, and are there for them.
Stand up, advocate for your students, and let your voice be heard. Create a call to action by participating in local meetings and conferences about bullying. Your best allies are the parents of the children who are getting bullied. Invite them to help you take a stand and stop bullying. Be an anti-bullying advocate by talking to leaders and administrators to implement anti-bullying campaigns in schools, and stop bullying once and for all.
As an advocate for bullied students, you may have read the research that a zero tolerance policy for bullies may actually not make a positive contribution to school safety. Know what you are preaching about, and do the research before you support zero tolerance policies. Some studies suggest that bullies need role models and anti-bullying programs, not to be expelled from school. Advocate for character education programs, school-wide behavior interventions, and early intervention strategies, all programs that target at-risk youth.
Educators can advocate for bullied students by creating specific strategies that will help students who are bullied. Nea.org suggests doing this by educating and supporting professionals such as bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and paraeducators, who are more often than not likely to witness bullying situations when they occur. As an advocate, you can involve school staff in school-wide prevention programs and give them the tools to know what to look for in a bullying situation, and how to stop it.
A huge part of being an advocate for bullied students is to not accept it as normal. Bullies need to know that what they did is wrong, and that it will not be tolerated. All too often, schools try to mediate with an intervention between the victim and the bully. That strategy usually ends up sending the wrong message to one of the parties involved. It is essential that the bully know that his behavior was wrong and will not be ignored. Take a stand and speak up to change the current trends of dealing with bullies. Do your research and figure out the best strategies that will work in your school system.
Remember, your job as an advocate for bullied students can make a huge impact on how schools deal with bullying. Don’t be afraid to take a stand for what you believe in, and know that you are making a difference.
How do you advocate for bullied students in your school? Do you have any specific ways that you found work well? Please share your ideas in the comment section below. You never know, you may just inspire someone to take a stand that will make a change.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.