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The whole-school anti-bullying approach

Many of the tools we have provided in this section are intended to help you assist beginning teachers in intervening in and preventing bullying. As a principal, you play a critical role in addressing bullying across the whole school. Research indicates that the most effective anti-bullying programs take a whole-school approach. Below is a very brief overview of the whole-school approach. For more information, go to the Bullying resources tool.

A whole-school approach to preventing bullying seeks to develop a school environment characterized by caring, open communication and involved adults. This entails school staff establishing and enforcing firm limits to unacceptable behavior, consistently applying non-aggressive, non-physical negative consequences and acting as positive role models. A whole-school approach includes the following activities at the school, classroom and individual levels:

School activities

  • Survey teachers and students to determine the prevalence of bullying.
  • Coordinate supervision of students during break periods and in unstructured settings, e.g., playground, cafeteria, etc., which is when and where bullying occurs most frequently at school.
  • Develop school-wide anti-bullying policies and coordinate efforts to educate staff and students on the content and enforcement of these policies.

Classroom activities

  • Teachers work with students to establish and enforce classroom rules against bullying.
  • Integrate discussions of bullying into the curriculum.
  • Meet with families to expand their involvement both in class and throughout school.

Individual activities

  • Instruct all school staff to provide immediate intervention in bullying incidents.
  • Help students form friendship partnerships to foster responsibility for students who are bullied and to discourage bullying in general. Older students can form mentor partnerships to support new students or students who have difficulties fitting in with their peers.
  • Call on school counselors/mental health professionals to deal with more serious incidents of bullying and to help in ongoing education activities.

See the Bullying resources tool for more information and tools to help you create a whole-school approach to preventing bullying in your schools.