A Teacher's Role in Eradicating the Bullying Epidemic
Updated: Jul 26, 2018
Wednesday, June 27, 2018-Hany Cheng
Beyond any doubt, bullying is a problem faced by students of all ages and in all grades and you will agree with me that putting an end to bullying can only be successful and the plan worthwhile if everyone comes onboard and becomes involved. Also, a high level of commitment and patience is needed to ensure success in handling bullies. Educators should also be committed to the right strategies to help create an environment where bullies simply don't exist. Meanwhile, synergy and participation of each family member and the entire community are required so that we all can live in a bully-free environment.
Most prevention programs in school depend fully on and employ the general acceptable disciplinary style. They vehemently oppose bullying and encourage students to stand up and speak for themselves or to defend themselves. Could this really be the best approach to stop bullying? Every day, schools struggle to take a stand against bullying and these educators have a difficult time pleasing everyone. Therefore, schools need to find new ways to prevent or stop bullying. Here are some tips to help you reduce bullying in your school.
1. Remove Labels: Address Behaviours.
"We can never judge the lives of others because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation". - Paulo Coelho
People don't like to be judged. Judgment makes people resentful. Teachers and staff judge a child if such a child is called a bully and this can cause problems for that student in the future. They tend to be more aggressive, or withdrawn. When addressing students’ behaviour, be nonjudgmental. Take note of specific behaviours and better understand the student. It is important to always keep in mind that each student involved in a situation face varying circumstances because there is always a reason that a child acts aggressively. To fix the problem, you have to ensure that the person who is doing the bullying knows what behaviour is wrong, why it’s wrong, and what the consequences are for engaging in such behaviour.
2. Reward Positive Behavior.
"Once I did bad and that I heard ever. Twice I did good, and that I heard never." - Dale Carnegie
It is easy to point out bad behaviours in students, especially if the student always seems to be in trouble, but do you also point out good behaviours? The “Good Behavior Game” can be played in order to ensure good classroom behaviours are rewarded during school. The major problem is that many people have chosen not to pay attention to good behaviour because they believe it is naturally expected of the child. When a child is always getting into trouble, “catching them being good” is positive and reinforcing (Mahoney, 2012). When you point out a good behaviour, the child acknowledges it and it is imprinted and reinforced in his mind. Everyone loves to be acknowledged and will stop at nothing to gain attention. If these children are acknowledged, they will be more likely to repeatedly engage in positive behaviour again. Reinforcing good behaviour will positively give students clear expectations about what you want.
3. Communicate and Connect.
Communication is key to building rapport. Learn to communicate with these students and take them as distinct individuals. This will help you connect with them on a personal level. Children love their teachers and always talk about them at home. When teachers learn to communicate with their students, their students will be more open and feel at home when telling them about their problems—including bullying. Having classroom meetings is one way to build that communication. Empathic Listening is key. It is important to listen to these meetings. Students need to feel welcome to talk to their teachers one-on-one. When a bully is calmly spoken to, they might really change their bad behaviour since they get all the attention they need without it.
4. Engage Parents.
When the people that have the greatest impact on a child's life work together, they make the biggest difference in that child. If there is a disparity between home and school behaviours, the child might become confused at the crossroad and choose a wrong behaviour. Teachers and staff need to build rapport with the parents of their students to ensure effective communication. If parents are constantly informed about their child’s grades, behaviour, attitudes, and friends in school, they will be able to effectively address the child's behaviours. This synergy makes the message more likely to sink in and stick with the child because such a child hears similar teachings at home and at school.
5. Look for Warning Signs.
There are a few signs that could indicate that a child is engaging in bullying behaviour. Effective communication with the child's parents will help the teachers easily know. Find out if the child gets into a lot of fights or have friends that bully others or if the child has new belongings that are not originally theirs. These warning signs are everywhere if we look hard enough.
At this juncture, you would realise that shaming and blaming is not healthy for a child's self-esteem. Children have soft and tender hearts and you should try to see things from their perspectives. Try to live in their world. Help them understand themselves and try to understand them. Children will have less behavioural problems if they know we really do care about them. Show them all your Love! Try to put all these tips into practice and watch a child referred to as a bully become an angel. Together, we can eliminate violent behaviours from the neighbourhood, and our kids will no longer have to live with fear.
Hany Cheng is a licensed mental health counsellor. She is passionate in helping families to enhance their parent-child relationship through filial therapy. Currently, she is pursuing her PHD in researching the topic of applying filial therapy in Malaysia. She is also the co-founder of Havan Clothing - a social enterprise that empowers children's artwork through fashionable clothing.