The Nigeria educational regulatory body requires schools to have a bullying prevention policy. But a policy, alone, is not enough.
Despite the requirement, there’s been an increase in all forms of bullying during the last two years. Bullying can look like kids repeatedly stigmatizing classmates for their cultural differences, or a middle-school girl suddenly being insulted and excluded by her group of friends and so on.
Bullying occurs everywhere, even in the highest-performing schools, and it is hurtful to everyone involved, from the targets of bullying to the witnesses—and even to the bullies themselves. So this is a good time to ask ourselves: What are the best practices for preventing bullying in schools? What role do the education stakeholders have to play?
Here are some pointers you can experiment with as an educator or a parent/guardian
1) Advancing social and emotional learning
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is well known and involves teaching skills of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision making, and relationship management.
Learn more about SEL Here
Evidence-based SEL approaches have been shown to deliver cost-effective, solid results. We have also seen that SEL improves emotional well-being, self-regulation, classroom relationships, and kind and helpful behavior among students. It reduces a range of problems like anxiety, emotional distress, and depression; reduces disruptive behaviors like conflicts, aggression, bullying, anger, and hostile attribution bias; and it improves academic achievement, creativity, and leadership.
SEL approaches should be developmentally wise, since what is salient and possible for children changes at different ages.
2. Educate kids on bullying
Let your child know that bullying is not OK and can bring serious consequences at home, school, and in the community if they engage in it. Teaching them honesty and fairness from a young age will help in this aspect.
Educate your ward(s) on the need to respect themselves and others, this can help them form healthy and long-lasting relationships.
Help them identify what bullying looks like at different ages and the roles they can play to help stop bullying wherever they find themselves.
Beyond that, educate them by being a good example. Children begin to learn how to behave at an early age. They watch what their parents do and follow your example. It is thus important to always treat others with respect. Say “please” and “thank you,” and be respectful, kind, and friendly toward others. Children will observe your behavior and pick up these good habits.
3. Identify ‘gateway behaviors.’
Researchers have found that small behaviors can often signal the beginning patterns of bullying. Often missed by educators who already have so much on their plates, these indicators, called “gateway behaviors,” can be difficult to detect. But, if you can recognize them early on, there’s a chance you could prevent bullying behavior from developing down the road. As an educator, here are some of the key behaviors you should take notice of:
- Eye rolling
- Prolonged staring
- Back turning
- Laughing cruelly/encouraging others to laugh
- Ignoring or excluding
- Causing physical harm
While these behaviors may not be classified as bullying, putting interventions in place now could mitigate the likelihood of them growing into something more problematic.
4) Help your child be a positive role model.
There are three parties to bullying: the victim, the perpetrator, and the bystander. Even if children are not victims of bullying, they can prevent bullying by being inclusive, respectful, and kind to their peers. If they witness bullying, they can stick up for the victim, offer support, and/or question bullying behaviors.
5) Safe communication channels in Schools
Communication is essential for establishing rapport. When schools establish open communication channels with students, they will feel more comfortable discussing their difficulties, including bullying. One strategy to improve communication is to hold classroom meetings. Classroom meetings allow students to discuss school-related problems other than academics and can assist the administration to stay informed about what is going on among students.
Students need to feel welcome and safe to confide in their teachers one-on-one, especially if they feel they’ve been bullied. So, schools must create an adequate and safe reporting system that accommodates both outspoken students and shy ones.
6) Create anti-bullying policies and implement them effectively
Schools are supposed to develop guidelines that inform students about what behavior is expected of them and what would likely result in punishment. The rules must also be followed. This helps to maintain school balance. Keep regulations basic when children are small, and as they grow older, adapt the rules to help them meet their maturity level.
It is enough to read this article and go away, we appeal that you implement it with immediate effect!