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The most effective bullying prevention strategies

As children and youth grow up, there are many things to learn. Relationships and social situations can be some of the most complicated things that people learn when they are young. It is essential that children and young adults learn how to interact with each other. These are skills that they will rely on for the rest of their lives. Bullying is a sign that a student is having trouble learning these valuable lessons. 

Bullying is one of the most significant issues teachers, and administrators face in the education system. Questions surrounding how we interact with our students and how we respond to these sorts of situations are continually coming up. The following are some suggestions that can help teachers manage and prevent these situations in healthy proactive ways. 

Manage the Classroom: 
One of the best ways to prevent bullying it's by managing the classroom. Keeping students busy can be very effective. Students who are idle for too long are much more likely to get themselves into trouble. Planning lessons so that there are more opportunities to participate actively can also keep students more focused on the classes and less on each other. 

Avoid situations where you cannot see or hear your students. Isolated students are far more likely to be bullied, and bullies are much more likely to be active when they think that they are not being watched. People tend to follow the speed limit better with a squad car nearby, and students tend to be better behaved when a teacher is nearby. 

Groups and Connections: 
Students tend to group up in classes. Some groups are just made out of friends or people who like each other, but other groups can be exclusive. One of the best ways to keep students focused and to avoid conflicts is to break up groups. Assign the student and assignment groups wherever possible. Students are more likely to meet and connect when groups are assigned. Teacher assigned groups also tend to be more focused. 

Set a Tone for the Class: 
Teachers have the unique opportunity to set the tone for their classes. It can be quite challenging to maintain a bright atmosphere, but it can be done done. Students will often remember teachers who treat them fairly and keep a positive attitude. Teachers can also give students a chance to improve themselves. Try to find things that you like about your students. Identify your student's talents and positive traits and then identify them that way. Studies have shown that offering a positive identity even works with prison inmates. Give them a good name, and often they will live up to it. Most people would die for a little appreciation now and then. 

Identify Gateway Behaviors: 
Bullying often starts with physical cues and smaller infringements on other students. If you can identify gateway behaviors, you can begin to correct problems before they start. Some of the gateway behaviors that indicate bullying include: 

  • Eye rolling
  • Prolonged Staring
  • Cruel laughter and group mocking
  • Name calling and derogatory language
  • Unwanted physical contact or physical harm
  • Spying or stalking

Identify Bullying: 
Bullying can happen anywhere. Sometimes it happens inside the classroom, and other times it doesn’t even happen on school grounds. It can be very useful to identify the signs of bullying so that you can manage your classroom or school accordingly. Some indicators suggesting bullying include: 

  • Hiding from or avoiding other students
  • Uncharacteristic mood changes and unhappiness
  • Emotional upsets
  • Unpleasant interactions between students

Stop it on the Spot: 
Once you identify bullying, the best thing to do is to stop it on the spot. The faster a teacher responds to bullying the better the chances that the student will learn not to do it again. Children and young adults learn best when they get immediate feedback. The same principle applies to bullying. Respond to bullying immediately, and you increase your chances of ending the problem as quickly. 

Students are often learning what is acceptable and what is not. A quick response can help them to recognize when things have gone too far. 

Get the Facts: 
It is extremely important that teachers make an effort to understand the situation when bullying occurs. Bullies often succeed at explaining away the things that they do to other students. Bullies can be exceptionally good at manipulating adults and other children. It is important that the teachers make sure that they get the facts as clearly as possible because bullies can sometimes make it appear as if their victims are the ones who are doing the bullying. 

Support the Students on Both Sides: 
In a perfect world, we hope that we can help our students learn and grow into healthy and happy individuals. It is important to remember, that when we are dealing with bullying, we are trying to help all of the students involved. It is our responsibility to stop bullying wherever we find it, but sometimes we can do this by taking some of Abraham Lincoln's advice and turning our enemies into friends. It is important that we work with both sets of students to help each student develop into a well-adjusted adult. This is one area where more understanding and consideration can help a teacher go the distance. 

Check in Regularly: 
Once the bullying has been addressed, steps should be taken to prevent this type of behavior in the future. Teachers should check in with both students regularly in order to make sure that everything works out. Following up with students is as simple as checking a student's work and offering help or asking how a student is doing. Students that have been bullied often appreciate reassurance from their teachers and bullies often benefit from seeing that their teachers don't hate them after they have made a mistake. It also allows students to feel comfortable expressing themselves. This can be useful in identifying future problems or in helping both parties improve now that the bullying is over. 

Keep an Eye on Students: 
It is important to keep an eye on any students who have been involved in a bullying situation. Some students will continue bullying even after they have been caught at it. While it is uncommon bullying can sometimes get worse after a student has been caught once. Some students are angry that they got caught or feel that they did not deserve to get in trouble in the first place. In either case, some students will attempt to get even and will hide their bullying very carefully. Once bullying has occurred teachers must keep a close eye on both parties so that they can prevent any further escalations. 

Ultimately, bullying is a failure of social skills. Almost everything that we want or have comes from other people. Other people grow our food, create neat products for us to buy, and become our friends, our family, our bosses, and coworkers. One of the most important things that students will learn as they go through school and become full adults are a basic set of social skills. 

By keeping an eye out for bullying and expertly managing bullying when we find it we can do an excellent service to our students and create a happy and thriving environment for education.

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