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Anti-Bullying Tactics: When To Intervene

Janelle Cox

Did you know that more than 3.2 million children are bullied each year? While that number may sound astounding, it’s true. Bullying has been a longstanding issue for quite some time. It seems like every time you turn on the television or open the newspaper, there is some type of bullying situation to hear about. The increasing amount of violence in our schools has left many teachers to question if and when is the right time to intervene. In today’s schools, teachers are confronted with situations that they’ve never been in before, such as classroom bullying, cyberbullying, etc. As technology changes, as well as the world that we live in, new situations arise for which teachers need to be prepared. Here we’ll take a brief look at anti-bullying tactics, and when and where you should intervene as a teacher when it comes to bullying and student safety.  

Anti-Bullying: How to Intervene

As an educator, it’s important to intervene at all times when you encounter any type of misconduct between students. This will give students the message that bullying and/or fighting is not acceptable.  According to a survey that was conducted by the National Education Association, 98 percent of school staff felt that it was their job to intervene when they saw an incident occur. Research shows that with consistent intervention, bullying behavior can stop over a period of time. Every child deserves to feel safe at school. Here is what National Education Association suggests that teachers can do before, during, and after any situation to ensure a student’s safety.

What to Do Before

  • Know Your Rights – While intervening may seem like the right thing to do, it may not always be, according to your school district. The way a teacher intervenes is best determined with the district’s legal counsel. It’s important to be aware of your legal rights as well as the school policies so when you do encounter a bullying situation, you know how to handle it.
  • Be Equipped with your Staff Training – All faculty members should be trained in bullying and safety intervention techniques. Some may involve physical intervention, while others may involve calling for help, or less non-evasive techniques. If you haven’t gotten this training, then see your school administrator as soon as possible.
  • Be Prepared to Make Referrals – Do your research. If you are going to intervene, then you had better be prepared to make a referral to a school counselor or school psychologist. This is their job, and they are the right ones to connect after the situation has occurred.

What to Do During

  • Stop the Situation Quickly – The first thing that you need to do is to stop the incident immediately. Separate the students so that everyone is safe.
  • Make Sure the Students are Safe – Next, you need to seek medical assistance if necessary and make sure everyone is OK. This is the time that you take away any weapons, call the police, or call for further assistance.
  • State a Clear Message – In a calm voice, give students a clear message that bullying is not tolerated. The child who is the “Bully” needs to hear that they are wrong, and the bullied student needs to hear that they are safe.
  • Speak with Bystanders – Congratulate the bystanders that spoke up and encourage the ones who didn’t to speak up so they will next time.
  • Prepare for a Follow-Up – Once the situation is under control, advise all individuals that were involved in the situation that there will be a follow-up.

What to Do After

  • Conduct a Follow-Up – Investigate and document everything. Question all that were involved and follow school protocol and document everything.
  • Support the Bullied Student – Make sure that they have the resources that they need to feel safe. Be there for the student so they know they feel safe.
  • Impose Consequences on the Bully – If you are able to, impose consequences for the bully immediately. Also, make sure that they too are getting the help that they need.

All students are entitled to free education. They are also entitled to come to a place where they feel safe. If you ever encounter a situation where you feel that a student is not safe, then you have the right to take action and intervene. This may only be something like yelling “Stop!” or “No!” It may even (depending upon your school districts policy) be something more aggressive such as physically removing a student from the situation. Whatever the case may be, you are entitled to take a stand and keep all students safe.

What is your take on teachers intervening during a bullying situation? Please share your anti-bullying thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, we’d love to hear what you have to say.

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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 Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.