Prevention & Intervention Strategies
Prevention and intervention strategies include school-wide programs and individual actions to stop bullying behaviors and encourage positive behaviors. All staff, students, parents and others associated with the school or community should share the responsibility for bullying prevention and intervention.
School-Wide Prevention and Intervention
The most effective anti-bullying plan is designed and implemented with specific knowledge and skills consistently trained and used throughout the school district. This plan declares a school’s commitment to creating a safe, caring and respectful learning environment for all students. A bullying prevention and intervention plan adopted by the district might include specific behavior programs, forms used, philosophies of interactions, curriculum, or basic protocols. Effective anti-bullying programs or curriculum implement a scope and sequence of knowledge and skills to be learned by all students and requires school-wide involvement and support. Students involved in bullying situations benefit from additional instruction specific to their role as one using bullying behaviors, as a target, or as a bystander/witness.
Prevention is best addressed by communicating and teaching the expected pro-social behaviors.
- Clearly communicate policy and protocols for bullying behaviors to all staff, students and parents
- Discussion and presentations about bullying and caring behaviors are ongoing
- Empower bystanders to promote and take responsibility for creating a safe and welcoming environment
- Provide a means for safely reporting bullying behaviors
- Staff are observant and responsive to reports of bullying
- Students are recognized for caring behaviors
- Adopt a social skills curriculum
- Monitor and adjust local bullying prevention program based on analysis of local school data and best practices in the field of bullying prevention (change in supervision, use of resources, methods of communication, reporting procedures, etc.)
Activating and empowering the bystanders/witnesses through education about bullying and practice (role plays) in intervening is the most impactful intervention. Group training for bystanders includes emphasizing that there is strength in numbers and that permission is given with the expectation to intervene respectfully and safely or report the bullying behaviors. Determining specific bystander interventions depends on analyzing the level of risk of a particular bullying situation.
School/Classroom Strategies for Bystanders
- Talk about it with the class
- Emphasize strength in numbers
- Explain the expectation to take action
- Teach and practice skills and strategies to take a stand
- Empower witnesses to take leadership roles in making the school safe for everyone
- Acknowledge and reinforce caring behaviors
- Clarify the difference between tattling and telling (reporting).
Individual Strategies for Bystanders
- Make a safe choice; consider the level of risk in choosing an action for intervening.
- Teach options for intervening:
- Choose to not participate
- Report to an adult
- Encourage the peer group to take a stand
- Take an individual stand
- Be friendly toward the target
Targets need to be supported by a third party and have their reports taken seriously. Target interventions typically include teaching social skills such as friendship, assertiveness and anger management skills. Interventions for targets may be done one-on-one or in a support group. Targets should not be re-victimized by bringing the target and perpetrator together to try to resolve the situation.
School/Classroom Strategies for Targets
- Provide a safe place to report; take all reports seriously
- Assign new or needy students to a buddy
- Assign a caring staff member to “connect” regularly with the students who are potential targets
- Get a caring majority in the classroom; use class meetings/discussion to teach expected behaviors and model value of each person
- Consider how students are grouped so that the targets are not left out and are not paired with someone who bullies them.
- Teach friendship and assertiveness skills.
Individual Strategies for Targets
- Provide options for preventing bullying incidents
- Avoid the bully
- Stay in safe areas
- Share your feelings with someone you trust
- Provide options for responding to bullying incidents
- Walk away
- Make an assertive statement, then walk away
- Tell an adult
Bullying Behavior Interventions
School discipline policies, while needed to address student conduct issues and support positive student behaviors, are not sufficient to address bullying behaviors. Bullying behavior interventions may include teaching social skills such as friendship, empathy and anger management in one-on-one settings, not in a group setting. Discipline should be addressed privately. Interventions focus on identifying the expected behaviors.
School/Classroom Strategies for Bullying Behaviors/Perpetrators of Bullying
- Equalize the power – work one on one
- Challenge distorted thinking.
- Use consistent, predictable discipline
- Focus on behaviors and expectations
- Use a problem-solving approach
- Forward documentation to a central location to be reviewed regularly
Individual Strategies for Bullying Behaviors/Perpetrators of Bullying
- State (do not ask) rule violated, feelings of target, and plan of action
- Teach social skills
- Friendship skills
- Empathy skills
- Emotional self awareness
- Social awareness
- Develop personal management skills
- Anger and emotion management
- Assuming personal responsibility
- Provide pro-social consequences