General guidelines for intervening in bullying
Intervene immediately to stop the bullying. If safe to do so, stand
between the child(ren) who bullied and those who were bullied, blocking
eye contact between them if possible. Don't immediately ask about
the reason for the bullying or try to sort out the facts. Bullies
tend to be very skilled at manipulating these types of discussions.
***Note, if the bullying involves serious
physical assault, particularly among adolescents, do not place
yourself in the middle of the assault. You need to get help from
other staff and/or security. Make your presence
known verbally and physically and intervene only when
you feel it is safe to do so. Often students will respond to a
short, clear and firm command to stop. If you
know the assaulter's name(s), use it. Also, disperse other
students in such cases of violence.
- Identify the bullying behavior that you saw/heard and let students
know that bullying is unacceptable and against school rules. (e.g., “That
was bullying. I won't allow students to push each other that way.” or “Calling
someone names is bullying. It's against our school rules.”)
- Support the bullied child in a way that allows him/her to regain
self-control and to feel supported and safe from retaliation.
Make a point to see the child later in private, but don't ask the
child to explain what happened at the time of the incident. This
puts the victim on the spot, a position that they may experience
as threatening rather than supportive. Let the child's teacher(s)
know what happened to provide additional support and protection.
- Reiterate school rules to the bully or bullies and, after making
sure that the victim is okay, pull the bullies aside and or take
them to the principal to impose consequences. Engaging the bully,
particularly adolescent bullies, in front of peers may enhance
the bully's status and power or lead to further aggression.
- Do not attempt to mediate between the bully and the victim.
Bullying involves an imbalance of power; it is not a
difference of opinion. Bullies may use the mediation process to
avoid responsibility and to persuade the targeted child that he/she
was somehow at fault for the attack.
- Make bystanders aware of the consequences of the bullying behavior.
Reiterate the school's policy of zero tolerance toward bullying.
- Phone the parents of both the bully and the victim and try to
resolve the problems as soon as possible, including referrals to
counseling when appropriate. Note: except under
special and justified circumstances, it is generally not helpful
for the parents of bullies and victims to meet to solve the