Both in school and extracurricular activities, educators need to be aware of instances of bullying that can occur between children. According to StopBullying.gov, children engage in bullying behavior for a variety of reasons. They can be trying to gain social power and status, mimic family treatment, figure out their own emotions, react to being excluded, or some combination of these factors.
Whatever the reasoning, the 2019 School Crime Supplement estimated that 22% of children aged 12-18 experience bullying. That is more than 1 in 5 children who are having issues with bullying! Therefore, when you work with children in your classes and activities, knowing how to deal with bullying is important to maintaining a safe and productive environment.
Our mission at Sawyer is to help children’s activity businesses be the best they can be. In this guide, we will discuss bullying prevention and management for your classroom as well as ways that you can educate your students about bullying to try to stem any problems that might arise.
How to deal with bullying as a teacher
How to prevent bullying in your classroom
One of the best ways to deal with bullying as an educator is to stop it before it starts. Because you are teaching extracurricular activities and not a school curriculum, you might not have the opportunity to ask other teachers if certain children have exhibited bullying tendencies during the school day. However, there are still many other ways to prevent bullying in your classroom. Here are 5 top tips.
- Establish open communication with your students. Whether you run drop-in or semester classes, you should always start by letting your students know that you are there to support them. They should feel safe and comfortable coming to you if they have problems or need help. This is also a great way to foster diversity and inclusion in the classroom because it gives you an opportunity to get to know your students and establish a rapport.
- Keep your eyes and ears open. Before children engage in traditional bullying behavior, they might start testing the boundaries. Maybe they think that because they are in an extracurricular class, they can let their behavior slip. Let them know that you are watching and listening and you will not tolerate bullying in your classroom.
- Avoid cliques. Since you are running activities outside of school, children might be signed up with their group of friends. However, cliques are a breeding ground for bullying behaviors. Instead, let the children in your class know that, even if they came with their friends, one of the goals is for them to meet new students and expand their circles. Then, if you are doing group projects or even just organizing the seating chart, separate large groups of friends so that they can interact with new students.
- Work with students to establish anti-bullying rules. When you involve children in the creation of rules in your classroom, they will feel more agency and interest in following them. Spend some time talking through what would make them feel safe and comfortable in your classroom so that everyone in the class is aware and understands bullying isn’t tolerated.
- Equip bystanders with tools. Bullying often happens in public, which means there are a lot of opportunities for other children to act as bystanders. When you begin your class, let your students know that if they see bullying behaviors, they should feel safe informing you. You can create an anonymous system in case they are worried about repercussions. Research shows that when bystanders intervene, it often reduces, and even eliminates, bullying.
How to manage bullying in the classroom
While prevention is the ultimate goal, bullying sometimes slips through the cracks. If you witness or hear about instances of bullying during your activities and classes, the most important thing you can do is act quickly. Here are our top 3 tips on how to manage bullying in the classroom efficiently and effectively.
- Intervene and don’t normalize the behavior. You might feel an urge to take a step back and let the children figure out their issues themselves. However, this encourages children to continue acting in this way. Instead, StopBullying.gov recommends that you intervene immediately and call out the bully so they know what they did was wrong. This can help reduce instances of bullying in the future.
- Separate the children. If you witness or hear about bullying in your classroom, make sure that you separate the bully and victim so you can speak with each privately. When you speak with the victim, let them know that they are safe sharing what happened with you. When you speak with the bully, don’t let them blame the victim. Instead, encourage them to take ownership of their actions and help them come up with ways to behave differently next time. You should also make a point to report what occurred to their parent or guardian.
- Seek professional resources and guidance. One of the best ways to manage bullying in the classroom is to work with a professional who can help you come up with interventions and ensure the students are safe. You can also look for resources to get you started, like the ones offered on StopBullying.gov, PBS, and UMass.
Hopefully, this guide has given you some helpful tips and support so you feel more comfortable dealing with bullying as a teacher. If you are looking for more guidance on how to start a business teaching children or the administrative side of running a children’s activity or education business, Sawyer is the best class registration and management software for both in-person and online activities.
With our suite of tools, like signup forms to record allergies and t-shirt sizes, various payment options like gift cards and installment plans, and seamless registration on any device, Sawyer saves business owners 28 hours per month. If you are ready to spend less time on admin and more time doing what you love, see how Sawyer can help with a free trial or demo.