According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, as many as one in five students experience bullying. Fifteen percent of bullying incidents occur online. Bullying often results in lowered levels of classroom engagement and academic performance. However, the effects of bullying reach farther than academic achievement. Bullied students experience anxiety. They also report difficulty sleeping and physical symptoms like headaches. Additionally, students who’ve been bullied are more likely to consider and attempt suicide. Anti-bullying legislation attempts to prevent students from suffering such drastic consequences. The federal government has no bullying legislation, so state laws differ. As of 2015, each state has their own anti-bullying laws. Understanding your state’s legislation is an essential first step. But how should schools implement bullying legislation?
Make Sure School Policy Directly Reflects Legislation
After studying your state’s anti-bullying laws, create an accurate policy that completes each and every requirement. Once all the legal bases have been covered, a school can also ask for feedback from its staff and parents. This will help schools better enhance their policies for the student’s benefit.
Staff and Student Training is Essential
Staff must be trained to recognize the signs of bullying. Not only that, they should also be able to discuss bullying prevention. Anti-bullying training programs create a safe space in which to learn about and prevent bullying. If a child understands what makes bullying wrong, they are less likely to bully.
Create a Reporting System
Mandatory reporting is required of any staff involved in the lives of a child. This includes not only teachers but any school staff as well. For example, lunch servers and school nurses are also mandatory reporters. A centralized reporting system helps those who may be reticent to report. It can also educate staff about what they need to report. For instance, the system can offer specific examples of what is and what is not acceptable. If a staff member is able to detect what is not acceptable, they will be more readily able to report it.
Incorporate Policy in the Classroom
The classroom is yet another example of a safe space that can be used to teach students about bullying. The National Bullying Prevention Center offers anti-bullying activities for all ages. They even offer lessons for students learning at home due to COVID-19. Teachers should also teach students how to report to an adult in a nonthreatening way. Also, teachers are excellent influencers when it comes to children. They should focus on what kids love to do and model how to support them in those actions. This shows other students how to support and encourage their peers. Teachers should also encourage communication and practice it regularly within the classroom.
Adopt Essential Technology
The COVID-19 pandemic proved that the digital classroom is an essential learning space. Therefore, it’s essential that schools ensure the virtual classroom is a safe space. Screen monitoring software like LearnSafe helps ensure student safety on school computers. LearnSafe detects incidents of cyberbullying and threats of violence, giving administrators the tools they need to intervene. It also detects mentions of self-harm and suicidal ideation. In this way, LearnSafe helps administrators identify students who need help. It can even save student lives.
Text by Kassie Roberts