Bullying…what are we to do?

21 Mar

One of the biggest concerns we must now face as educators does not involve covering the curriculum or even test scores.  Schools now deal with matters of life and death in the form of bullying.   We have learned that students are committing suicide simply to escape their bullies.  Phoebe Prince hung herself due to harassment she endured through text messaging and Facebook.  In a historic move, nine students were charged after her death. Recently a young Australian boy was taunted by a bully and decided to fight back.  The altercation was taped and both students were suspended by the school, leading many to question the school’s decision.

I work at the elementary level, and we took a proactive approach to bullying.  We began the Olweus program about 9 years ago.  We trained our teachers and students in the language of bullying and what it means to be a bully, victim, or bystander.  We provided scenarios, held discussions, and practiced our responses.  At the time, I thought we were providing a great service to our students.  They were learning how to recognize bullying at school, and how to respond.  Unfortunately, we have done little beyond this initial push to begin an anti-bully campaign.  Bullying has escalated with students’ access to the Internet, and it has become a huge challenge for schools to combat the issue and take an appropriate role.

This leads me to ask… What is the teacher’s role in preventing bullying in our schools and online? Are we qualified to do so?  What has your district done to help you and your students deal with bullies?  Should schools be responsible for dealing with bullying issues that happen online, beyond the school day?


Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Uncategorized


13 responses to “Bullying…what are we to do?

  1. businessedu2011

    March 22, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Teachers should not tolerate any level of bullying in school. As a teacher we should always be aware of our surroundings and what is going on in our classrooms and in the hallways. By being observant of our students, it may help us pick up on the potential of bullying in school or through the internet. If a teacher has any belief that bullying may be occurring in school or cyber bullying, it should be immediately addressed. However, I don’t know if we are qualified to address bullying without proper training. The program your school completed sounds like a fantastic idea. My school has a no bullying policy, where if your caught and depending the degree, you may receive detention, in school suspension, or out of school suspension. Schools should be responsible for dealing with bullying that occurs in school and to an extent with cyber bullying. The problem arises when things start at home on the internet and then they progress in school. If a student feels uncomfortable anytime at school at the hands of another student, then that student should be disciplined. Our job as teachers and school districts are to keep our students safe and a place where they want to be.
    -Teresa K.

  2. Kelly Harris

    March 23, 2011 at 7:37 am

    The questions that you posted really got me thinking. The news is inundated with stories of bullying and teen suicides. I worry about my own 5 teenagers, and try to keep an open dialogue with them regarding how to be a good friend not just to their friends. I went onto their school website to look at the policy, and discovered it is pretty strict. What I don’t know is just exactly how bullying would be handled on a student level.
    As for the program that I work for now, we have not had any formal training whatsoever. Unfortunately in this program we have a high percentage of students that have parol officers, which by the way are a great resource for keeping the kids engaged in the program! We have several tiers of authority within the program, so when I hear of any bullying or misuse I know who to contact.

  3. Heidi Giordano

    March 24, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Wow that’s a great question! In my situation with homeschooling we, fortunately, have little to no problems in this area. We host many onsite classes but rarely have to deal with this issue. Thus, our school while having a discipline code has not had to “teach” student acceptance within the classes. I would say that an open communication practice would need to be established, where kids could feel safe to inform you of students harassment. I think it’s helpful to providing team building exercises within a class and develop a “family” within a classroom, encouraging a protectiveness and acceptance of each other. We do many team building exercises for groups that will have a high rate of interaction. From interviewing each other to team projects to facilitate a camaraderie amongst our students. I realize our situation is more unique, we do acquire students due to bullying situations in traditional type schools settings.

  4. adamsgrade3

    March 24, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I found it interesting that you noted that you acquire students due to bullying. I wonder how many parents seek out cyber-schooling/homeschooling to avoid having their child placed in that situation? I think this is one of the reasons why alternative public school options are becoming more popular.

  5. Stephanie Chapman

    March 25, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Bullying seems to be a very hot button topic in schools. It is so dificult for teachers to monitor with the evolution of social technology. I wonder if this is part of the reason that some schools have students unplug when they enter the building. Bullying is definitely not a new concept, but now the 24 hour online access makes it that much easier to do. Our elementary school does a whole week of anti-bullying training with students at the beginning of every year. They also have student mentors/problem solvers that other students can talk to if they have a problem. It seems to be a great tool for the students. I don’t feel that there is enough training for teachers above the elementary school level. The bigger link that I feel is missing is the parent link. There aren’t many workshops or classes in my area aimed at educating non-educators and parents about bullying. I think that might be the next step that needs to be employed.

  6. raynel83

    March 26, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Bullying is a great topic, bullying happens to every student and every student deals with the situations differently. As an educator I believe one of our greatest jobs is to keep our classroom a safe zone. This means a place where students should feel comfortable and feel they are able to speak with you without fear or discomfort. I want my students to be able to come to me and know that I am able to listen before it becomes a larger issue. As for what goes on online, I do believe that if a student comes to you with things that are happening out of school there shouldn’t be a hesitation in helping and discussing what the students options are.

  7. Mrs. Creighton

    March 26, 2011 at 9:28 am

    II also teach at the Elementary level and we too try to approach bullying in a pro-active way. Still I agree with you . . . What are we to do when it actually happens? There’s always a kid in the bunch who seems to listen and understand when we ‘talk’ about bullying. The bullies themselves often contribute the most to our conversations about bullying. But, in the heat of the moment, when the conflict is there, children react as spontaneously, as if they are ill-prepared. We can talk and talk about bullying to each other and our students but the problem seems to be spiraling OUT OF CONTROL! I think the influence of the media is to blame. Jerry Springer, mean-girl movies, violence and sexuality everywhere at every hour, have desensitized our youth.

    Families are busy working trying to survive. Many parents don’t have time to TALK to their kids anymore. Children are all bottled up, like little ticking time bombs. In the past, this was not so much of an issue because the moral fiber of families was strong. Life was centered about family and church, not work and money. A year of bully-proofing in school is not enough! It’s scary, honestly. I can teach my child how to stand tall and walk away, to talk it out, tell the adult in charge, or ignore . . . but what about the other child who doesn’t do the same! Kids are bringing guns to school for Heaven’s Sake! (Read the link below about Friday’s Middle School Shooting). We need something . . . I wish I had the answer.

  8. Kristine C

    March 26, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    This is a great topic, and a you have great questions and I’m not sure if I can contribute much, my students are adults and I typically see them only once a week for four hours each class. Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with cyberbullying or bullying at my school. If we do have an instance where a student is acting out of the norm or has behavioral issues we are instructed to contact the Judicial Affairs office who will then work with the faculty member and counseling to determine the best approach for the student.

    In terms of preventing bullying in our schools and online I believe we have an obligation to ensure that the students have a safe learning environment when they are on our campus and in the online learning environment we provide them. With the student population that I serve, who are adults 18 years and older, I can’t play a role in preventing cyberbullying outside of the learning environment that we provide our students. I am not qualified to do so and I’m afraid that I would be impinging on my student’s right to privacy. The college that I teach at does provide professional development workshops on similar topics (judicial affairs, classroom management, behavioral issues, etc.) to faculty and also offers a series of sessions for students.

    I think it would be beneficial if the schools help educate students about what bullying is, what to do if it happens, and come up with a set of consequences for students if they participate in bullying. It there are rules, then each and every faculty member at a school must adhere to them in order for any type of policy to be effective. I also think that the parents of bullies should be held accountable for their children’s behavior. The one challenge to bullying if furnishing the proof that it actually happened – this is no longer much of an issue when it is done online – even anonymous accounts and entries can be traced back using packet information.

  9. Jason Jarrett

    March 26, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    After reading everyone’s comments I think we all can agree that Teresa summarized a teachers responsibility towards bullying very well.

    “Teachers should not tolerate any level of bullying in school. As a teacher we should always be aware of our surroundings and what is going on in our classrooms and in the hallways.”

    Our role as teachers to control bullying in schools is extremely important, but how much can we really do to control cyber bullying? What happens outside of schools is not really our jurisdiction as teachers. I personally do not feel qualified to prevent any type of cyber bullying. Parents should be at the forefront of cyber bullying, school counselors and administrators are next in line.

    My school has run school assemblies where presenters have come in and talked with students about the dangers of cyber bullying, how students can help prevent it, and what to do if it happens to them or a friend.

  10. Jason Jarrett

    March 26, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Any thoughts about the attention Casey Heynes?

  11. businessedu2011

    March 27, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    It’s amazing all the attention he got because of the internet and how many videos were made from that bullied event.
    -Teresa K.

  12. sbkreider

    March 28, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Bullying is a huge topic in the education but I don’t feel like our school says much about the issue. I think it is teacher’s responsibility to respond whenever they are aware of bullying. When teachers turn a blind eye that is the equivalent of condoning it. In our school we are required to post the anti-bullying policy in our classroom and beyond that we don’t hear about bullying in faculty meetings, assembles, or by any other method. I think a lack of training makes us improperly equipped to handle the new forms of bullying. I am not aware of our district getting involved in cyber bullying that took place outside of the school day. I don’t know how they could tackle this problem.

  13. indagation

    March 31, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I know that there have been some issues at our school with online problems. I don’t feel like it is the responsibility of the school to deal with these problems. If a student travels to another students house and they get in a fight, then it isn’t a school issue. If the student’s parents allow them to be online then any online issues are the parent’s problems and not ours.


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