3 Strategies to Prevent Bullying and Harassment in Schools
By Shanaya S. Thompson, School Counselor K-8th at the International Community School (Singapore)
B.S. Psychology emphasis in Christian Counseling
M.Ed in School Counseling
Is your child being bullied in school?
Do they know how to stand-up for themselves against the bullies?
Is there a way to prevent themselves from being a target for bullies?
These are some concerns that parents have when they send their children to school.
The International Community School (Singapore) is getting ahead of the problem by implementing a program called "Positive Behavior Support". This program focuses on social climate and teaches students the core values of respect, safety, and responsibility.
Bullying and Harassment Prevention in Positive Behavior Support: Expect Respect is a program conducted by the University of Oregon, USA. It is designed to empower students to positively impact the social environment in their school. ICS helps students accomplish this by teaching them specific skills and including them in discussions about how these issues can best be addressed.
Here are the 3 strategies we want students to learn as part of Bullying and Harassment Prevention in Positive Behavior Support: Expect Respect.
Stop Strategy: In a situation where disrespectful behavior occurs, it is important for student recipients to utilize the following steps in an effort to stop the problem behavior before it escalates.
If someone treats you in a way that feels disrespectful:
- Step 1: Be assertive and say, "STOP!".
- Step 2: If the person stops, say something like "Cool" or "OK" and move on with your day.
- Step 3: If the person does not stop, decide whether to ignore the person or seek support.
- Step 4: If you decide to ignore, don't look at or talk to that person. If you decide to seek support, select a school adult to approach and ask for support.
Stopping Strategy: In a situation where a student asks another student to stop behaving disrespectfully, it is important for the accused student to utilize the following steps in an effort to de-escalate the situation.
If someone says, "STOP!" to you:
- Step 1: Stop what you are doing, even if you don't think you are doing anything wrong.
- Step 2: Remind yourself "No big deal if I stop now."
- Step 3: Say "OK" to the person who asked you to stop and move on with your day.
Recruiting Support Strategy: In a situation where the recipient of disrespectful behavior has attempted to stop the behavior, yet the problem behavior continues, it is important for the student recipient to take the following steps to recruit support for de-escalating the conflict.
If you use the School wide stop phrase and the person doesn't stop:
- Step 1: Decide whether to ignore it or seek support.
- Step 2: If you seek support, select a school adult to report to.
- Step 3: Approach the adult and say, "I'm having a problem with ______. I asked her/him to stop and she/he continued."
- Step 4: If the adult doesn't have time to help solve the problem right then, ask the adult when she/he will have time and make an appointment.
Providing Support Strategy (for adults): In a situation where a student comes to you with a conflict that they cannot resolve on their own, it is important to take the following steps in order to help the student resolve the situation.
If a student approaches you with a problem involving disrespectful behavior:
- Step 1: Say "Thanks for telling me."
- Step 2: Listen empathetically. Ask if this is the first time; determine who, what, when, and where.
- Step 3: Ask the student if the person who didn't stop is likely to retaliate if confronted.
- Step 4: Help the student select a course of action. Possibilities include:
- Filing a harassment report
- Creating a safety plan for minimizing contact
- Letting it go ("I just needed someone to listen to me")
Keep your children safe by giving them these tools to protect and defend themselves from bullying.