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Responding to bullying and harassment

The tools and resources linked below provide ideas and strategies that teachers can use to respond to bullying and harassment in ways that stop the immediate problem and that are educative for all their students. Teachers are the adults who interact the most with students. In the classroom, on the playgrounds and in the hallways teachers have daily, direct interaction and influence with students. Teachers are powerful role models. At the same time, teachers, particularly beginning teachers, may feel uncertain and even afraid to intervene in bullying and harassment situations. They may want to avoid difficult issues such as racism, sexual harassment and homophobia. Yet, preventing bullying requires that teachers have the courage to confront such issues in age-appropriate ways with and for their children. Teachers have an ethical and professional responsibility for ensuring that all their students learn. Letting bullying go unchecked violates this fundamental responsibility. As a principal, you are responsible for helping beginning teachers to develop the strategies and the courage to intervene in and help prevent bullying and harassment in their classrooms and in the school.

Review the ideas and strategies presented in these tools with the beginning teachers. You can help them develop specific statements they can make and actions they can take when they intervene in a bullying incident. As you talk with the beginning teachers, draw on your own experiences to help illustrate the challenges and possible responses to bullying intervention and to reiterate the importance of such intervention. You can also role-play incidents with the beginning teachers to give them an opportunity to try out and evaluate, in a safe space, their ideas and approaches. Role-playing can be a very effective way of assisting beginning teachers develop the courage and strategies to intervene in bullying.

Intervening in bullying situations

General guidelines for intervening in bullying

Providing follow-up and support

Educating students to prevent bullying