So, I’m sipping my coffee watching GMA, when a story comes on called “Celebrities ‘Stand with Keaton’ to Support Bullied Boy with words of Encouragement.” It is about a young boy’s emotional viral video with him telling his mom about being bullied at school. His mother had to pick him up early due to him being bullied. His emotional outpouring on camera just made me feel so heartbroken, but not helpless. He said kids pour milk on him and put ham down his clothes. They call him names and make fun of his nose. This is so disappointing. I know as teachers, we are in the forefront of preventing children from bullying. We can make a difference and protect these children while teaching others about kindness. Keaton is amazing! The end of the video, where he tells people to “stay strong” and thinks it will get better is absolutely inspiring! I stand with Keaton, and I hope you will too. Yesterday, I posted about bully principals. Today we are talking about strategies you can use to prevent bully behavior in school.
- Practice What You Preach Some of the same bully principals I wrote about yesterday, preach about how teachers should have a zero tolerance for bullying. Stopping bullying begins at the top! Principals should have a zero tolerance and lead by example. Some teachers are guilty of this also. I know of children who were bullied by a teacher. The teacher humiliated them in front of their peers, held their work up and called it “ugly” to the rest of the class. They even made fun of a student who stuttered while encouraging others to join in on the bullying. The students, along with a group of other children who felt bad for the students being bullied by the teacher, did the right thing by telling a teacher who told an administrator. That administrator did nothing to protect the children. The School Board was informed. They did NOTHING to prevent this situation from happening again. So, don’t just define your beliefs. Live them!
- Increase Adult Supervision Most of the time bullying happens when kids are alone and without supervision. If bullying is happening at lunch, as a teacher, make a point to walk around a couple times or actually eat lunch with some of the students. If you are aware of issues in the hallways, ask teachers to volunteer to monitor the hallways. Most teachers, when aware of a bully issue, are happy to assist. If it is on a bus, talk to the bus driver.
- Have School Wide Bully Prevention Workshops A lot of schools just put up an Anti-Bullying poster and never really talk about it with the students. Teachers, you should role-play bullying scenes with students. Give them strategies like when they SEE something, SAY something. Make sure as a teacher, you follow through with telling the proper people about any bully situations you discover. We want every child to feel safe at school. Even if you have a poor administration or district, you can talk to your staff and have them supervise areas.
- Teach KINDNESS Teach acts of kindness as part of your social studies curriculum. Reward students for kindness with hugs, stickers, a shout out on the announcements, etc.
- Work with parents who have children who are being bullied. Some teachers don’t want to get involved because sometimes it is a fine line between bullying and innocent teasing. The bottom line is if a child is feeling like they are not safe in school, there is a problem. Talk to the parents to come up with how students can know the difference. Tell the student you are there to keep them safe. Work with the students who are bullying or “teasing” to know the difference. Some kids don’t even know they are bullying until you bring it to their attention. This is why it is important to role-play.
- Talk About It Have regular conversations with a purpose. The goal can be each week to take 5 min. to discuss with your class about if they feel safe at school or on the bus. These discussions can lead to your ability to gain knowledge about bully situations before they get out of hand.
- Share Keaton’s story with your students. Show support by sharing his story with the hashtag #StandWithKeaton!
I hope some of these tips will help you help your students. Our number one priority is to provide a safe learning environment for our children. Watch the video here.