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Anti-Bullying Strategies, By Grade

Janelle Cox

October is Bullying Prevention Month, and throughout the course of the next couple weeks we’ll be spotlighting ways educators can combat this continuing problem.

Approximately 160,000 children stay home from school each day because they are being bullied. Children who are bullied suffer from depression, anxiety, and other psychological and physical health problems. By implementing anti-bullying strategies and educating students on how to recognize and respond to a bully, bullying related absences and health issues can be prevented.

Anti-Bullying Strategies for Grades K-2

Does bullying really exist among kindergarteners and first and second graders? Unfortunately the answer is yes, it does.

It seems unimaginable that such innocent young children can be capable of behaving cruelly toward their peers, but research has confirmed that bullying at this age occurs at the same rate as in the upper elementary grades. 

Although the types of bullying situations may differ, the general characteristics are similar. For instance, Little Johnny is in kindergarten and asks to play with a group of classmates and they say “no.” Every day Johnny asks them to play, and they repeatedly deny him.

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However, once in a while the classmates will allow him to play with them, but in order to do so he must do what they ask. He may be the group pet when playing house, or the housekeeper instead of the dad, etc. This child has no chance to defend himself and is unable to change the group dynamic; it is the teacher's job to be aware of these situations and encourage the correct behavior. Here's how:

  • Teach children it is okay to say “NO!”
  • Encourage children to step in when they see a classmate getting bullied.
  • Listen to all complaints from your students, even when they seem trivial.
  • Pay attention to indicators of victimization.
  • Plan activities and games that include all children.
  • Talk with children about bullying, and teach them alternative behaviors.

Anti-Bullying Strategies for Grades 3-5

According to researchers at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and the Stanford University School of Medicine, 9 out 10 elementary students have been bullied by their peers. Most incidents occur on the playground, bus, or in the hallway. Here are a few ways children in grades 3-5 can respond to a bully:

  • Tell the person who is bullying that their behavior is unacceptable.
  • Stay together in groups.
  • Don’t be a bystander, stick up for friends.
  • Report any harmful or dangerous incidents to an adult immediately.
  • Walk away.

Prevention Strategies for Grades 6-8

The National Catholic Educational Association reports that children in middle school were more likely to be bullied than those in high school. They also report that sixth graders in particular were more likely to be bullied on the bus, and were more likely sustain injuries from being bullied. Most researchers agree that bullying will continue unless schools implement a bullying prevention program where they have the teacher's full support. Here are some ways to teach bullying prevention strategies to middle school students:

  • Model desirable behaviors.
  • Teach students to report any bullying incidents, and make sure to take every report seriously.
  • Hold weekly class meetings, and discuss what is and is not working in the classroom/hallways.
  • Increase student understanding of bullying by having them expand their social circle.
  • Have students participate in role-playing to practice appropriate behaviors.

Prevention Strategies for High School Students

According to PACER.org, the most effective way to stop bullying is to have a peer intervene. Research also shows that 15-percent of high school students say they have been bullied at one time or another. In order to ensure a safe learning environment for all students, teachers need to provide prevention strategies that will encourage students to intervene and take the steps needed to prevent bullying. Here are a few ways you can empower students to become upstanders versus bystanders:

  • Provide anti-bullying posters that encourage students to step-in when they see a bullying incident.
  • Start a peer-mentoring program that teaches students to be upstanders not bystanders.
  • Have students create an anti-bullying video and showcase it for the school.
  • Teach students to speak up and report bullying, if they do not feel comfortable reporting it in person they can anonymously report it online, or in a note.
  • Have a school assembly about bullying prevention.

This article originally appeared in a recent issue of TeachHUB magazine, our award-winning, downloadable publication. For more informative articles about issues affecting education, download the latest issue today! 

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