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Getting Students to Talk: 4 Ways to Stop Bullying in Schools

Carolyn Vento
April 27, 2022
According to the National Center for Educational Studies, one out of every five students reports being bullied. While this number may seem high, consider how many students are being bullied and not reporting it. A problem with bullying is that not enough people are talking about it. Students need to feel comfortable before they are willing to open up about it, whether they are being bullied or witnessing bullying. There are steps teachers, staff, administrators, and parents can take to stop as much bullying as possible.
Here are 4 ways to get students to talk in order to stop bullying in schools.
  1. Define Bullying.
    Sometimes students are being bullied and don’t know it or don’t want to admit it. If they have a clear definition of bullying, they will be more likely to report it since they can be sure that it is actually happening. Otherwise, they may wonder if what they are experiencing or witnessing is just teasing, joking, or unintentional. They may worry that they are making a big deal out of something that isn’t an actual problem. According to stopbullying.gov, a federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, bullying is unwanted, repeated, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The bullying can be in person or even online, which is known as cyberbullying. When a student can clearly recognize bullying behaviors by noting key indicators such as repetition and aggression, they will be more likely to stop doubting their thoughts and feel an obligation to take action and tell an adult about it.

  2. Set clear rules and expectations.
    If there are no consequences for bullying, students will think it’s acceptable. However, if there is a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, students and teachers may be less likely to report negative behaviors if the only consequence is a harsh suspension, for example. The most effective and realistic disciplinary procedures are the type when if the bullying increases in severity, so does the disciplinary action.

    Students must understand the consequences of their actions, but it’s equally important that the teachers and administrators enforce the rules for every student, including star athletes and students whose relatives work in the school. No one should ever be exempt from the rules, because then all students will see the rules as unfair and will think they have a chance of getting away with bullying.

  3. Keep communication open with students.
    Students need to know that bullying is serious and that adults should be involved in stopping it. Teachers and administrators should emphasize that telling is not tattling. This idea can be included in an anti-bullying document that students and their parents/guardians can sign to help students understand the seriousness of bullying. To foster open communication, schools can provide a safe space for students to go if they feel threatened, such as an office or classroom during lunch. Teachers can remind students about other adults in the school building that they can talk to about any concerns, including guidance counselors and coaches.

  4. Make anonymous reporting possible for students.
    Sometimes students do not speak up when it comes to bullying, because they believe if someone knows they did, the problem will become worse. For these students, they may only report incidents if they can do it anonymously.

CrisisGo understands these concerns and has developed the only mobile emergency response system that provides a student-safe app, Safe2SpeakUP. This app is an anonymous way for students to easily and comfortably communicate with safety teams, counselors, or other specific people based on the report type. Using Safe2SpeakUP, students can report bully-related activity for themselves or their friends, submit safety tips about incidents at schools, and access safety resources during the event of an emergency.

If you can get students to talk, you can learn more about what is going on in their social circles and how to help them. To make students feel more comfortable about speaking up, make sure they understand what bullying is and set clear rules and expectations for them. Then, remind them that you are there for them and that it is their responsibility to report any bullying behavior. If it’s possible to provide them with an anonymous way to report what they see or hear, then let the students know about that option as well. Keeping lines of communication open will help more students to be heard and helped.

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