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Activities to Teach Students About Bullying

Schools don’t always need formal programs to help students learn about bullying prevention. Schools can incorporate the topic of bullying prevention in lessons and activities. Examples of activities to teach about bullying include:

  • Internet or library research, such as looking up types of bullying, how to prevent it, and how kids should respond
  • Presentations, such as a speech or role-play on stopping bullying
  • Discussions about topics like reporting bullying
  • Creative writing, such as a poem speaking out against bullying or a story or skit teaching bystanders how to help
  • Artistic works, such as a collage about respect or the effects of bullying
  • Classroom meetings to talk about peer relations

Types of Rules and Policies

There are several types of policies and rules that work to prevent bullying. Each serves a different purpose. For example:

  • A school mission statement establishes the vision for the school. Everyone should know how they personally help the school achieve this shared goal.
    • Sample Mission Statement
      [Name of School] is committed to each student’s success in learning within a caring, responsive, and safe environment that is free of discrimination, violence, and bullying. Our school works to ensure that all students have the opportunity and support to develop to their fullest potential and share a personal and meaningful bond with people in the school community.
  • A code of conduct describes the positive behaviors expected of the school community. The code of conduct applies to all, sets standards for behavior, and covers a focused set of expected positive behaviors. State laws sometimes specify what must be included in a school’s code of conduct.
  • A student bill of rights includes positive things students can expect at school. Keep it short and easy to remember, so it is useful in day-to-day school life.
    • Sample Student Bill of Rights
      Each student at [school] has a right to:

      • Learn in a safe and friendly place
      • Be treated with respect
      • Receive the help and support of caring adults

Integrating Rules and Policies into a School’s Culture

As you develop or update school rules and policies, have a plan for keeping them relevant and meaningful for students and school staff.

  • Make sure school rules and policies are consistent with state laws and the school district rules and policies.
  • Include school staff, parents, and students when developing rules and policies. Giving students a role can help them set their own climate of respect and responsibility. Parental involvement can reinforce these messages at home.
  • Train school staff on enforcing school rules and policies. Give them the tools to respond to bullying consistently and appropriately.
  • Incorporate rules and policies in day-to-day school interactions. Teachers and students can discuss the rules in class. Students can hold each other accountable. The principal can give an annual “state of the school” speech that reports on the mission.

Establish a Reporting System

Schools can establish clear procedures for reporting rule violations so that reasonable consequences can be given to students when rules are broken. Reporting systems help track individual incidents and responses as well as trends over time.

Some tips for establishing a reporting system:

  • Make it easy. People are more likely to report when it’s easy to do.
  • Maintain reports in a way that shows emerging problems and patterns over time.
  • Keep reports confidential and private. School staff and students should be encouraged to report violations without fear of retaliation.

How to Talk About Bullying

Parents, school staff, and other caring adults have a role to play in preventing bullying. They can:

  • Help kids understand bullying. Talk about what bullying is and how to stand up to it safely. Tell kids bullying is unacceptable. Make sure kids know how to get help.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with kids often. Listen to them. Know their friends, ask about school, and understand their concerns.
  • Encourage kids to do what they love. Special activities, interests, and hobbies can boost confidence, help kids make friends, and protect them from bullying behavior.
  • Model how to treat others with kindness and respect.

Help Kids Understand Bullying

Kids who know what bullying is can better identify it. They can talk about bullying if it happens to them or others. Kids need to know ways to safely stand up to bullying and how to get help.

  • Encourage kids to speak to a trusted adult if they are bullied or see others being bullied. The adult can give comfort, support, and advice, even if they can’t solve the problem directly. Encourage the child to report bullying if it happens.
  • Talk about how to stand up to kids who bully. Give tips, like using humor and saying “stop” directly and confidently. Talk about what to do if those actions don’t work, like walking away
  • Talk about strategies for staying safe, such as staying near adults or groups of other kids.
  • Urge them to help kids who are bullied by showing kindness or getting help.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Research tells us that children really do look to parents and caregivers for advice and help on tough decisions. Sometimes spending 15 minutes a day talking can reassure kids that they can talk to their parents if they have a problem. Start conversations about daily life and feelings with questions like these:

  • What was one good thing that happened today? Any bad things?
  • What is lunch time like at your school? Who do you sit with? What do you talk about?
  • What is it like to ride the school bus?
  • What are you good at? What would do you like best about yourself?

Talking about bullying directly is an important step in understanding how the issue might be affecting kids. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but it is important to encourage kids to answer them honestly. Assure kids that they are not alone in addressing any problems that arise. Start conversations about bullying with questions like these:

  • What does “bullying” mean to you?
  • Describe what kids who bully are like. Why do you think people bully?
  • Who are the adults you trust most when it comes to things like bullying?
  • Have you ever felt scared to go to school because you were afraid of bullying? What ways have you tried to change it?
  • What do you think parents can do to help stop bullying?
  • Have you or your friends left other kids out on purpose? Do you think that was bullying? Why or why not?
  • What do you usually do when you see bullying going on?
  • Do you ever see kids at your school being bullied by other kids? How does it make you feel?
  • Have you ever tried to help someone who is being bullied? What happened? What would you do if it happens again?

Encourage Kids to Do What They Love

Help kids take part in activities, interests, and hobbies they like. Kids can volunteer, play sports, sing in a chorus, or join a youth group or school club. These activities give kids a chance to have fun and meet others with the same interests. They can build confidence and friendships that help protect kids from bullying.

Model How to Treat Others with Kindness and Respect

Kids learn from adults’ actions. By treating others with kindness and respect, adults show the kids in their lives that there is no place for bullying. Even if it seems like they are not paying attention, kids are watching how adults manage stress and conflict, as well as how they treat their friends, colleagues, and families.