Educating Children About Bullying

Photo of teacher with children in classroom

Dealing With Your Own Reactions to Bullying

One of the most overlooked areas in all of the anti-bullying literature is adults’ attitudes about bullying and how we react when we observe bullying in our classrooms. It is important when planning anti-bullying intervention that we examine our own attitudes toward bullying. Some people have very strong reactions toward bullying, while others have the attitude that children should work it out for themselves and that bullying is a natural part of growing up.

All reactions to bullying are valid, as they are based on our own past experiences. However, due to the power imbalance between the bully and the victim, this type of conflict is different and always requires adult intervention.

This tip sheet is designed to provide you with practical ideas to assist with educating children in the hopes of creating a bully-free classroom. With that as our goal, our intention is to promote teachers’ self-reflection that will assist them when planning intervention.

Points to Consider Before Implementing Anti-Bullying Strategies:

  • Do you tend to relate more to the bully or to the victim?
  • Do you find yourself sometimes feeling that the victim deserved the treatment?
  • Do you focus all your attention on the bully immediately after a bullying incident?
  • Do you feel that when bullying occurs, you get so upset or angry that you overreact and you discipline the child too harshly?
  • Do you feel helpless when informed about a situation and therefore tend to avoid dealing with it?
  • Do you have set responses that you can adapt to specific bullying incidents?For example,
    • To the victim, “I’m glad you told me. I’m sorry it happened.”
    • To the bully, “You’ve been saying mean things to (child’s name). That is bullying and it is wrong.”
    • To the bystanders, “You saw what happened and didn’t say anything. I guess you weren’t sure what to do. Next time, tell the child to stop and then get some help.”

For Your Program at the Supervisory Level:

  • Have a policy to deal with bullying.
  • Go over the policy with your program consultant to ensure the policy and steps included are appropriate and meet with city guidelines.
  • Discuss steps to deal with bullying (including documentation, informing parents, etc.) with all staff at program so everyone is aware of procedure, as well as with the parents when their children start the program.
  • Incorporate anti-bullying programming into daily curriculum through staff meetings.

Creating a Bully-Free Zone for Classroom Staff:

  1. Create rules to create a bully free classroom (i.e., Work as a team, Kind words are cool, It’s cool to care, etc…)
  2. Do cooperative/nurturing activities on a daily basis (i.e., spiderweb game, motorboat, one potato, clapping game, pass the ball game, musical hoola hoops, kindness tree, etc).
  3. Implement sessions specifically designed to introduce children to thinking about and dealing with bullying:
    • First ask children what they think bullying is and write down their answers.
    • Place answers in three categories:
      • Social bullying
      • Physical bullying
      • Intimidation
    • Have children discuss if child is bully or victim in stories
    • Bring in two child-size body trace pictures and split children into two groups
    • One group draws the bully and writes words on picture describing a bully
    • One group draws the victim and writes words describing a victim (any child who tends to bully should be placed in this group)
    • Do victim quiz/bully quiz with group ( have half group do victim quiz, half do bully quiz and take up answers together)
    • Discuss bully cycle and how it works
    • Discuss strategies to deal with bullying: stay calm, use words (e.g.,”stop, I don’t deserve this”), report the bullying to an adult who can help you
    • Read the “New Girl” and discuss the role of bystander
    • Have all children do bystander quiz and discuss results
    • Help children understand the difference between tattling and telling by using puppet shows and/or scenarios.
    • Tattling is usually done just to get someone in trouble and it is usually about something that is not very hurtful (i.e., Jessica didn’t tidy up her lunch).
    • Telling is to help someone else get out of trouble because they are being hurt (either the child who is telling or another child)
    • Discuss the Better Way World and the Children’s Bill of Rights through reaffirmation of anti-bullying.
    • Have children do a superhero booklet in which each child explains what kind of a superhero he/she wants to be and how she/he would stop bullying as a superhero (read stories to class)