Helping School Staff Identify and Understand the Effects of Bullying (page 2)

By and — Bullying Special Edition Contributor
Updated on Feb 11, 2009

Discrepancies between Student and School Staff Perceptions of Bullying

Given the negative consequences of bullying on students’ emotions, friendships, and connection to school, it is essential that teachers and school staff have effective strategies for handling bullying situations.

A recent study found that over half of the middle and high school students surveyed believed that school staff were not doing enough to prevent bullying (2). Yet 97% of staff reported that they would intervene in a situation if they saw bullying, and approximately 87% felt that they had effective strategies for handling a bullying situation. On the other hand, 34% of middle school students and 25% of high school students thought that school staff did nothing to follow up when a student had reported a bullying event at school. Moreover, only 21% of students who were bullied had reported the event to a school staff member. In fact, students were more likely to report bullying events to their friends and family than an adult at school. These findings highlight the importance of providing additional training to staff in order to effectively prevent and respond to bullying.

Implications for Teachers and School Staff

  • Research shows that one of the most effective ways to prevent bullying is to implement a school-wide program that aims to alter students’ perceptions of bullying and the social norms related to aggressive retaliation (10). School staff and administrators may need to also develop strategies for communicating their prevention efforts with students in a way which does not draw negative attention to or exclude the victim or the bully.
  • Specific interventions such as social skills training and assertiveness training show promise for children who are victims of bullying. They have been shown to improve victimized students’ self-esteem, sense of competence, and abilities to effectively cope with bullying behavior (11). Teachers and staff also can work collaboratively to create opportunities for victims to interact with prosocial peers. As for working with children who bully, components of anger management programs may be useful to help these students apply problem solving skills and avoid conflict (12).
  • Based on the prevalence and negative consequences of bullying, it would be helpful for schools to conduct teacher and parent training sessions in order to increase knowledge on the topic and teach appropriate positive behavior strategies that can be used if a child is bullying others or being victimized. For instance, providing schools with data on school specific bullying rates, “hot spots” where bullying occurs, and the most common forms of bullying that are used at the school can be helpful for parents and staff to gain awareness of the issue. In addition these sessions can help school staff learn to recognize the various forms of bullying (e.g., physical vs. relational) and train parents and teachers to be more proactive in their anti-bullying efforts.

By increasing awareness of the problem of bullying and providing training on skills for effectively handling a bullying situation, teachers and school staff can work collaboratively with students to promote a safe and supportive learning environment.

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