Here are a few questions the program leaders can ask themselves about the anti-bullying environment they are trying to establish.
Is everyone in your community clear on the definition of bullying? Conflicts occur between children on a regular basis. Not every conflict is an instance of bullying. Remember, children who display bullying behaviors are manipulating the power imbalance that exists between themselves and the other child(ren). Encourage employees to take training on bullying to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Is everyone clear on how to respond to instances of bullying when they occur? It is good practice to implement conflict resolution activities in the classroom so that children are able to work out their conflicts. However, bullying is not simply a disagreement and it requires a different response. Experts recommend that teachers work with a child who bullies separately from the child who is bullied. This will prevent re-traumatizing the child who was bullied by forcing them to confront the other child when they are not yet ready to do so.
Do all children, families, and employees feel safe in the environment? Consider the steps that you have taken to communicate that your environment is a safe place. You might consider adding a question about safety to your customer satisfaction survey or employee performance reviews. Ensure that teachers are routinely sending messages of safety to children and families.
Do teachers model appropriate behaviors that are consistent with bullying prevention strategies? Take time to reflect on how employees interact with one another and with children. Be sure to address any instances of bullying that occur between staff. Coach employees to utilize their compassion and empathy skills when interacting with children and families.
Would the program benefit from a more formal bullying prevention curriculum? If so, check out the resources provided throughout this newsletter to identify a curriculum that matches the philosophy of your program.
For the Main Article on Bullying, CLICK HERE.
For Bullying Warning Signs, CLICK HERE.
For Creating a Learning Environment that Addresses Bullying, CLICK HERE.
For Book Lists and Classroom Resources, CLICK HERE.