Intervening in bullying situations
There is no one right way to intervene in bullying.
Though the guidelines and suggestions are drawn from research and
best practice, as with all other guidelines and suggestions, teachers
must use their own professional judgment to determine which ones
are appropriate and helpful for their particular students and situations
and how they need to be adapted. The only thing you should
not do is ignore it or become immobilized by fear or uncertainty. While
it is your responsibility to intervene and put a stop to incidents
of bullying and harassment, you will need to decide whether you want
to educate the bully and other students publicly or privately.
Educating publicly provides immediate information
and support to the victim, provides all students with a model
of how to stand against bullying and reassures students that
your classroom and/or school is a safe place.
privately allows bullies to “save face,” prevents
the target from possible embarrassment and allows more time
to explore and discuss issues.
Deciding to educate publicly or privately depends on:
Time and place: How you respond to incidents
of bullying/harassment will be different when the incident takes
place in the hallways during passing time or in your own classroom.
In some cases, “time
and place” will allow only for quick, punitive responses. In unstructured
settings, such as hallways, play grounds or in large crowds of students,
the targeted student(s) may be best served by you stopping the behavior
and then speaking to the harasser(s) later, in private. In more structured
environments like classrooms, libraries or lunchrooms, you have more
time to state the rules and to engage students in some discussion.
Again, you will need to consider the needs of the targeted student(s)
first and foremost.
Students: How you intervene in bullying will also
depend on the ages of the students and on whether the incident is
isolated or part of a pattern. Isolated incidents can be dealt with
quickly and directly. Incidents with longer histories require more
intensive intervention with both the bully and the targeted student.