Today, close to 40 percent of students are bullied, but teachers only intervene 4 percent of the time. That’s why it’s important to take active steps to reduce bullying, with better understanding and support around the issue and anti-bullying activities for teachers and students alike.
In honor of Bullying Prevention Month this October, below are four activities for you to try with your students:
1. Have class discussions about what bullying is
Reducing bullying should be a collective effort that involves the whole classroom (and, in turn, the whole school). But for students to be active participants in preventing bullying, they need to understand what it actually is.
Of the anti-bullying activities on this list, this is arguably the most important one. Talk to your students about what bullying is and what it looks like — that it can be physical, psychological, etc. Give them concrete examples, such as pushing, tripping, or barring passage in the case of physical antisocial behavior.
Make sure to emphasize that bullying isn’t the same as teasing: that instead it’s repeated and intentional upsetting behavior conducted in a dominating manner. You can learn more about how to identify bullying in our free guide.
2. Write a class anti-bullying policy that aligns with school values
Once students understand which specific antisocial behaviors can feed into bullying, take time to discuss the specific positive or prosocial behaviors that should be encouraged to create an environment where it’s harder for bullying to exist and thrive.
Encourage students to talk about their understanding and perspective of bullying and how it affects their school experience and culture. Have them think about what roles the bully, victim, and witnesses play in an antisocial exchange and how they influence one another. Witnesses are incredibly important in disrupting bullying behavior patterns.
Use these conversations to inspire students to create their own classroom anti-bullying policy that outlines what bullying is, what you should do if you witness bullying (or are a victim or bully yourself), and what antisocial and prosocial behaviors are involved in contributing to or reducing bullying, respectively. These behaviors should align with your unique school values.
3. Create opportunities for students to do good and practice empathy
Now that your students better understand the concepts involved in bullying and how to prevent it, it’s time to put that knowledge into practice.
Using the prosocial behaviors you and your students identified, create opportunities in the classroom for them to demonstrate those good behaviors. Make sure to acknowledge them positively and reward them when they do. (Classcraft can help you gamify your anti-bullying efforts.)
In particular, aim to create lessons and opportunities that teach empathy, promote group-building and teamwork, and celebrate diversity among your students. These will lead to a more positive classroom culture, which creates conditions that will support your anti-bullying efforts.
4. Foster a sense of classroom and schoolwide belonging
Make it cool for students to rally together against bullying.
One fun idea is to have your students create and wear wristbands that signal they stand against bullying. Another is to plan activities where students can feel safe and welcome, such as those that promote diversity and tolerance, like Mix It Up events.
By incorporating anti-bullying activities into your routine, you can strengthen your students’ resolve against bullying and create a positive, more inclusive school culture.