WE Teachers Bullying Module

WE Teachers Bullying Module


WE Teachers WE Teachers is a free program for teachers across America, providing resources and training to support them in addressing critical social issues with their students. It ensures that teachers have access to the tools they need to succeed in the classroom, such as innovative experiential learning techniques, and helps students become active, engaged citizens. Mental Health America Mental Health America (MHA) is a community-based non-profit dedicated to promoting mental health and providing support to Americans living with mental illness. Founded in 1909, the organization is a leader in addressing mental health across the nation. MHA is committed to serving all Americans by promoting mental health as a critical part of wellness, providing prevention services, early identifica- tion and intervention for those at risk, and integrated care, with recovery as their main goal. Walgreens A heartfelt thank you to our partner, Walgreens, for helping bring WE Teachers to life. Walgreens knows that at the heart of every community are our unsung heroes—teachers. That’s why they’ve partnered with WE to develop a program that provides free tools and resources to teachers nationwide to help them address the changing needs of their classrooms, like funding and addressing critical social issues. WE WE is a movement that empowers people to change the world through a charitable foundation and a social enterprise. Our service-learning program, WE Schools, supports teachers’ efforts to help students become compassionate leaders and active citizens, empowering them to take action on the issues that matter most to them. Currently partnered with 18,000 schools and groups, we are engaging a new generation of service leaders and providing resources for a growing network of educators. Our free and comprehensive library of lesson plans is designed to be adapted to meet the needs of any partner school, regardless of students’ grades, socioeconomic backgrounds, or learning chal- lenges. Skills development through the program also increases academic engagement and improves college and workplace readiness. Third-party impact studies show that alumni of the program are more likely to vote, volunteer and be socially engaged. Learn more at WE.org.


Section 1: Understand the Issue

Introduction ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 6 Facts/Statistics ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 6 Definitions and Context ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������7

Section 2: Identifying and Preventing Bullying

Preventing Bullying ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 13 Intervention and Policies��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 13 What to Do��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 15 Teachers and Bullying �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 16

Section 3: Learning About Bullying in the Classroom

Worksheets and Activities ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 19

Section 4: References

Resources ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 30 References �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 30

Section 1: Understanding Bullying

This section will introduce the issue of bullying through important facts and statistics. Gain a deeper understanding of the topic and relevant terms before diving into the next section on preventative actions, interventions and policies.


Section 1: Understanding the Issue

Essential Questions What information, tools and resources do educators require to enhance and inform their practice, with regards to understanding bullying—why do students bully, what are the risk factors to look for in a student who has been bullied, how can we talk about creating a safe space in the classroom/school to mitigate bullying? Learning Goals During this module, educators will: • Learn about what bullying is and how it is exists within students and/or the classroom. • Explore how to identify and support a victim of bullying within the classroom. • Discover the general importance of developing a safe classroom and the benefits it has on ensuring student safety. Objective/Purpose Bullying is a form of trauma. Students who are impacted by bullying are more likely to feel disconnected from school, have lower academic outcomes, lower attendance and completion rates, lack quality relationships, display high levels of emotion that are indicative of vulnerability and low levels of resilience, be socially withdrawn, have low self-esteem, depression and anxiety, and have a high risk of depression, substance abuse and suicide. The development of a trauma-informed classroom with strategies focused around combating the issue of bullying helps build feelings of trust, safety, support, collaboration and empowerment. Provide the framing and resources to inform: • What is bullying? What does it look like—as some who is bullying, and as a victim of bullying? • Stress and coping mechanisms. • Key times to identify when students show early signs. Overview/Rationale Being bullied is hurtful, scary and confusing. When bullying is aggressive and physical, it can be dangerous. When it’s emotional—like name calling or cyberbullying—it’s easy to feel alone. When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time. Parents, educators, school staff and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy.

WE Teachers Bullying Module 5

Introduction Bullying and violence in schools can have devastating impacts on students, schools and communities. Bullying is painful, lasting and related to low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, anger and other mental and physical health problems. Bullying is also associated with an increased risk of suicide for victims and perpetrators alike, so it’s an extremely important issue to understand in order to prevent it as much as possible, and to effectively handle it when instances of bullying do arise. 1

Facts and Statistics The 2017 School Crime Supplement reports that, in the U.S., approximately 20% of students ages 12 to 18 have experienced bullying. 2 Only about 20 to 30% of students who are victims of bullying reach out to adults about the problem. 3 Approximately 30% of young people admit to bullying others in surveys. 4 70.6% of young people and 70.4% of school staff say they have seen bullying in their schools. 62% of school staff witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month and 41% witness bullying once a week or more. 5 When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time. 6

Mental Health America surveyed 11 to 17-year-olds who came to MHAScreening.org about what was stressing them out. 68% of those surveyed responded that they were stressed out by loneliness, a common result of bullying. 7 According to ABC News, close to 160,000 students in the U.S. stay home from school each day because they are being bullied or are afraid of being bullied. 8 Cyberbullying is a growing problem, quickly surpassing all forms of “traditional” bullying as the most common form of bullying. In a 2018 survey published by Pew Research Centers, 59% of teens reported having been cyberbullied or harassed on the Internet. 9


Section 1: Understanding the Issue

Definitions and Context Bullying Bullying is defined by three major characteristics: aggression , repetition and power imbalance . Bullying behaviors are aggressive in that they are intended to threaten or cause physical, social or emotional harm. Bullying is usually specified to be a repeated pattern of behavior, but it can also simply involve the potential for the behaviors to repeat in the future. Bullying involves a real or perceived imbalance of power in that those who are doing the bullying use whatever their power is (physical strength or size, popularity, damaging or embarrassing information about others, etc.) to deliberately hurt or manipulate other people. Both perpetrators (bullies) and victims (targets of bullies) tend to experience worse life outcomes than those who have not been directly involved in bullying. Bullying in childhood has real, serious consequences that can cause lasting problems through adulthood for both bullies and their targets. Perpetrator A perpetrator of bullying is, simply put, a bully. It’s important not to outwardly label these students as bullies, however, because this label has the potential to fuel the bullying behaviors rather than reduce them. Additionally, perpetrators of bullying may also be hurting in some way and are taking out these negative feelings on others. It’s important to let these students know that bullying is not who they are, but rather a behavior they can stop engaging in. Short-term effects of bullying on the perpetrator can include poor school performance and school absence due to suspension, trouble keeping friends and rela- tionships, and increased risk of substance abuse.

Experiencing long-term consequences of bullying is not unique to victims. Perpetrators also experience adverse mental health outcomes including depression, decreased likelihood of attaining higher education and employment, substance abuse, and increased risk of antisocial behaviors and intimate partner violence. 10 Failure to address bulling behaviors in childhood or adolescence greatly increases the risk of these prob- lematic patterns of behavior continuing into adulthood. Victim Anyone who is or feels like they are on the receiving end of bullying qualifies as a victim. In school, the kids who are most likely to be victimized are those students who are perceived as different from their peers in some way, are weaker or less advanced socially. Girls, LGBTQ+ stu- dents, students with disabilities and religious students are particularly at risk for being targeted by bullies. Short-term consequences of bullying include social isolation, low self-esteem, school avoidance and poor school performance, and symptoms of depression and anxiety. 11 Bullying doesn’t just have negative short-term effects on the victim. Being bullied in childhood or adolescence can increase the likelihood of long-term consequences such as chronic depression and anxiety, difficulty building and maintaining relationships, substance abuse, PTSD, and even increased risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. 12

WE Teachers Bullying Module 7

Bystanders and Upstanders (see page 23 for the classroom activity) A bystander is someone who witnesses bullying. A bystander can be anyone, including friends, peers and teachers, but could also be a stranger, especially with the emergence of cyberbullying, where sometimes the perpetrators, victims and bystanders don’t actually know each other personally. An upstander is a person who witnesses bullying and attempts to intervene in some way, to the benefit of the victim of the bullying. During instances of bullying, bystanders are there nearly 80 percent of the time. 13 Obviously, when bystanders join in on the bullying or show support for the bullying behaviors, this makes the situation much more damaging for the victim. However, even if the bystanders just “stay out of it,” they may still be making the victim feel worse. When bystanders don’t intervene, it can be seen as silent support for the bully or, at the very least, like no one cares enough about the victim to do anything. This can be very isolating and can contribute to the magnitude of the negative effects that they experience. The good news is that when bystanders step in ( become upstanders ) to defend or support the victims of bullying, those victims tend to experience fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety than other young people who were bullied without that support. 14 Teaching kids to be upstanders is an important part of bullying prevention efforts in the classroom. One of the main reasons that kids report failing to intervene when they witness bullying is because they feel they don’t know what to do. Ensuring that students understand what to do when they are a bystander to bullying can be useful in preventing and handling bullying in the classroom.

Types of Bullying There are three general categories of bullying: verbal bullying , social bullying and physical bullying . Verbal bullying involves saying or writing things that are intended to harm someone emotionally or may include some form of verbal threat of further harm. Examples of verbal bullying include teasing, making harmful jokes at another student’s expense, name call- ing and threatening to harm other students physically. Social bullying involves intentionally damaging anoth- er person’s reputation or relationships, or sabotaging another’s social involvement. Examples of social bullying include spreading rumors, telling other people not to be friends with someone, purposefully excluding someone and purposefully embarrassing another person in public. Physical bullying involves intentionally hurting or injur- ing another person’s body, or intentionally damaging their property. Examples of physical bullying include all forms of unwanted or harmful physical contact (hitting, pinching, grabbing, etc.), spitting and stealing or intentionally breaking another person’s belongings. Cyberbullying (see page 23 for the classroom activity) Cyberbullying can include both verbal and social bullying and takes place electronically. It can take place privately, for example through texting, Snapchat or direct messages on social media platforms. Conversely, it can take place more publicly on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, gaming or video sites with comment sections, and the publicly viewed “stories” section of Snapchat. It can also take place anonymously on apps and sites designed to post and reply to content anonymously. Some examples may include posting or sharing embarrassing photos of people, creating fake accounts to make fun of people or catfishing (pretend- ing to be another person like a romantic interest).


Section 1: Understanding the Issue

Cyberbullying is pervasive, long-lasting or permanent, and much harder to notice than traditional bullying. It is pervasive because many kids have near constant access to electronics, so if they are being victimized online, they have to take that with them everywhere. As most know, “the internet is forever,” meaning that once something has been sent electronically or posted on the internet, it is nearly impossible to eliminate the record of that content. If a student has had false or private information leaked about them online, this can affect their future college admissions, job search and could even destroy potential romantic relationships with one Google search. As a teacher, cyberbullying can be extremely difficult to spot, as most teachers don’t monitor their students’ online activities, especially outside of school. For that reason, it’s important that if a student comes to their teacher with a concern about cyberbullying, that concern is taken seriously and dealt with effectively. One study that compared victims’ perceptions of cyberbullying to traditional bullying found that partic- ipants perceived traditional bullying to be harsher and more cruel, with more of an effect on their daily lives than cyberbullying, but the mental health correlates measured in the study revealed that victims of cyber-

bullying had significantly more social consequences and difficulties, as well as significantly more symptoms of depression and anxiety following their victimization when compared with victims of traditional bullying. 15 Sexual Harassment (see page 23 for the classroom activity) Sexual harassment is a type of behavior that doesn’t get as much attention as it should. Sexual harassment includes repeated unwelcome or inappropriate sexual remarks, requests for favors, or physical advances. Some types of sexual harassment are physical. This might include touching or pinching a student in an inappropriate way, pulling off clothing, and forced kissing or touching. Others are nonphysical and may include sexual comments or jokes, showing sexual photos, writing sexual messages on walls, spreading rumors about sex or sexuality or spying on other students getting dressed. Eight in 10 students reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment during their school lives. And almost 4 in 10 report that an adult (a teacher or another school employee) sexually harassed students. 16

WE Teachers Bullying Module 9

Gang or Group Bullying When two or more students group up together, they participate in group bullying, often called gang bullying or mobbing. There is usually a ringleader in group bullying. By participating in a group, the people reinforce each other’s roles as acceptable or positive. To stop group bullying, you may need to approach the participants individually. Discriminatory Bullying Students who are perceived as being different from their peers are at much greater risk of being bullied. This includes LGBTQ+ students and students with physical or intellectual disabilities, as well as students for whom English is a second language and students with noticeable cultural differences. In the classroom, it is important to teach students to be tolerant and accepting of one another’s differences. Teachers can help celebrate diversity by inviting stu- dents to talk about their cultures and experiences and allowing students to become the teachers, so that they can better understand each other and avoid intoler- ance. It can also be helpful to learn about similarities that students share. Engaging students in activities that help them get to know each other can be an excellent bullying prevention strategy. LGBTQ+ Bullying LGBTQ+ students are at least twice as likely to have been bullied than their heterosexual peers. According to StopBullying.gov, up to 85 percent of LGBTQ+ youth report having been verbally harassed, and up to 40 percent physically assaulted. 17 LGBTQ+ teens in the U.S. can be subjected to such severe bullying that it affects their ability to get an adequate education. Not only does being bullied greatly increase rates of school absence, it also draws students’ focus away from their education in general. LGBTQ+ youth reported that bullying was the second most important or stressful problem in their lives (behind families who do not accept them), while non-LGBTQ+ students identified classes/exams/grades as their most significant problem. Furthermore, LGBTQ+ youth often feel they have nowhere to turn. Sixty percent of LGBTQ+ students did not report incidents of bullying to school staff, and 33 percent of those who did report an incident said the staff did nothing in response. 18

Bullying and Suicide According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), young people who report frequently bullying others are at high, long-term risk for suicide, suicide attempts and suicidal ideation. Young people who report having been bullied frequently by their peers are also at increased risk of suicide, suicide attempts and suicidal ideation, as well as both physical and mental health problems. Youth who report having been in both roles (victims and perpetrators of bullying) are at the highest risk of having or developing mental health problems including depression, anxiety and There is no federal law that directly addresses bullying by name. However, certain types of bullying based on protected classes may violate other federal laws. For example, sexual harassment can violate Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. If schools fail to respond to sexual harassment, they could be liable for creating a hostile environment for the victim of bullying. States and provinces may have specific laws and regulations that include policy requirements, reporting and investigations, consequences, safeguards and supports, prevention education, and staff training. 20 Identify and Protect Hot Spots Outside of identifying bullying that can happen in the classrooms, teachers can take a preventative approach by identifying hot spots in the school where bullying can happen. It might be a particular bathroom, hallway or area in the schoolyard. A prevention strategy can be to ensure there is some kind of monitoring that happens around spaces where bullying can happen. Monitoring hot spots ensures that students who bully know they are being watched and students who are being bullied can feel safer. suicidal ideation. 19 Bullying Laws


Section 1: Understanding the Issue

WE Teachers Bullying Module 11

Section 2: Taking Action Throughout this section, you’ll learn about bullying prevention, intervention, policies, what to do and your role in addressing bullying. From looking for warning signs to tips, you’ll be equipped with the tools to take action on bullying.


Section 2: Identifying and Preventing Bullying

Assessing Your Classroom Keep in mind the types of bullying and students who are especially at risk for bullying. The list below can help you keep an eye out for unwanted behaviors and who you should give special attention.

Responding to Bullying Behaviors A response to bullying requires education, communica- tion, intervention and safety. Education (see pages 20 and 26 for the thought activities) Educating students and staff is the first step to bullying prevention. Students and staff who know what bullying is are better at identifying bullying and stepping in to address bullying and promote safety. Education is best provided on a regular basis or incorporated into curriculum. Experts agree having one assembly meeting to address bullying is not effective. 22 Communication (see page 20 for the thought activity, and page 25 for the self-improvement activity) Regularly talking about bullying helps students feel like they can identify and speak up if bullying happens. If bullying is not talked about, students will delay adult intervention which increases risk for serious injury or long-term consequences of unchecked bullying behav- iors. Having open communication is also an opportunity for students to see adults discuss and address difficult topics. Education and communication together create building blocks toward increasing classroom-wide prosocial behaviors that prevent bullying. Intervention and Policies Schools should have established policies about how to report and respond to bullying. Each school should have a process teachers can follow if a student discloses bullying, how teachers should respond to bullying and how the school will address bullying behaviors with each party involved. Conversations with students who bully and those who were bullied should occur separately, not together . Policies should ensure keeping children safe and stopping bullying behaviors.

Systemic Response to Bullying The best strategy to prevent bullying is to take a school-wide approach to bullying. Changes in school climate can increase prosocial behaviors among all school students and staff. School-wide education can ensure students and teachers are provided with detailed information and awareness on bullying and how to respond to bullying behaviors. Teachers and administrators will learn about, discuss and develop policies and strategies to address bullying in schools. Building student and staff confidence to address bullying will reduce bullying overall. Early Warning Signs You may notice behavior that is problematic before patterns of bullying become more serious. For example, if you notice a group of students excluding a particular student. Or maybe you’ll notice that students stare at another student, turn their back to them or more. It’s important to keep an eye on these behaviors and create opportunities for students to work together. Here are some warning signs a student is being bullied: 21 • Unexplainable injuries • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics or jewelry • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork or not wanting to go to school • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating; kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves or talking about suicide

WE Teachers Bullying Module 13

If a Parents Reaches Out to You If a parent reaches out to you because they are con- cerned about their child, it’s important to make that parent feel sure that you are doing everything you can to make their child feel safe and comfortable in their classroom. Ask specific questions about what made the parent feel the need to reach out to you, and try to ad- dress those concerns up front. If it becomes necessary to meet with the child to discuss the parents’ concerns, discretion will play an important role. Try not to single the student out, especially in public. If possible, avoid bringing up the parent right away, and instead offer a sort of “check in” meeting in which the student can bring up any issues on their own first. This way, you can try to save the student any feelings of embarrassment they may have as a result of having a parent involved. Actions That Can Make Problems Worse: Being overly punitive. Zero tolerance policies are often used by schools that want to show they come down hard on bullying. But 20 to 30 percent of students admit to bullying—they can’t all be suspended. Zero tolerance policies also dissuade people from reporting bullying (because no one wants to be the kid who got someone suspended). It’s possible that suspension and expulsion may be the last resort, but that’s the last resort. Putting the perpetrator and the victim together to resolve things. This could give the perpetrator another chance to upset the victim or make the victim feel bad. It may also send a message that the victim is partially at fault for allowing something to happen or aggravating the perpe- trator. There is not a clear body of evidence that suggests this is the right course of action for addressing bullying. Stopping after you’ve addressed the issue. If there is an incident of bullying, it’s important to make sure students and other teachers know about bullying and what to do when bullying occurs. In addition, bullying prevention is just as important as addressing bullying when it occurs.

School staff and administrators should keep bullying policies up-to-date and ensure that all staff are aware of policies and procedures to follow. Implementation of regular surveillance can help identify increases in bullying behaviors or risks, changes in support, or gaps in safety. Safety The key to responding to all bullying is safety. Keep all students safe. Think about strategies that protect students going forward. Identify and address gaps in school policies and activities that are risk factors for increased bullying and violence. Individual Response to Bullying Outside of learning about and following your school policies on bullying, here are some additional factors to consider. Reaching Out to Parents Sometimes, meeting with parents can be necessary. Likely, you will need to meet with both the parents of the bully and the victim. However, this should be done separately. Bringing the parents of both parties to- gether creates the possibility for volatility and hostility. Just as you discussed the behavior with the bully, try not to assign blame to the bully’s character or char- acterize them as a “bad kid.” It is important to keep the meeting with the bully’s parents solution-oriented rather than accusatory. There is no shame in involving other staff members in parent meetings regarding bullying, and your school may have protocols for holding these meetings. Guidance counselors can be helpful in creating plans to protect the emotional safety of the students involved, as well as mediating conflict when necessary. If stronger disciplinary action becomes necessary, involving the principal can be useful in creating a plan for dealing with the consequences of present and future behavior.

Look for this icon to see ways you can identify what to do and provide support to students who are struggling.


Section 2: Identifying and Preventing Bullying

WHAT TO DO If a student comes to you about the issue:

LISTEN!!! One of the main reasons kids say they don’t report instances of bullying to adults is because they don’t believe the adult will help them. It takes courage to go to an adult when you feel like you’re being bullied, so it’s important not to alienate kids from coming forward in the future by being dismissive or not taking their concerns seriously. Based on school policies on bullying, you may be asked to make note of or document what the student tells you to help initiate a plan of action. It’s also important to establish a retaliation policy. Another reason kids may avoid telling adults when they are being victimized is because they fear that the perpetrator will react negatively to their help seeking and the bullying will only get worse. All students should understand this policy at the beginning of the year, but when a student does come to you about bullying, remind them that you will ensure they will not be retaliated against to put them at ease. If You Witness or Hear About Bullying: If you notice or suspect that a student is being bullied, or it is brought to your attention by a third party (another student, staff member or even a parent) it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible. If you witness bullying behaviors, intervene immediately and calmly. Step in and separate the youth involved. Model behavior by communicating that bullying behaviors are unacceptable. Assess and provide care for bodily harm and mental health needs. Be discrete. Making a spectacle of the situation may make the situation much worse for the victim and will do nothing to make the perpetrator less antagonistic. Label the behavior, not the students. Avoid using phrases that assign a label to the students involved. Don’t say “Timmy, you’re a bully,” say “Timmy, we don’t treat people this way, this behavior is unacceptable.” Don’t give the students the idea that their behavior is who they are. Some research shows that labeling a person encourages them to embody that label further and increas- es, rather than decreases, the behavior. Set expectations and consequences. Make sure your students know how you expect them to treat one another, as well as the consequences for failing to meet those expectations. That way, if an issue does arise students understand that their actions have direct consequences. Check in with the “bully” too. More often than not, students who bully others are unhappy themselves. As the saying goes, “Hurt people hurt people.” Try to understand what the student is feeling that is causing them to want to treat others poorly. Targeting the source of the behavior can be more effective than targeting the behavior instance by instance. Follow through and follow up. Threatening punishment for bullying but neglecting to follow through sends the wrong message. To the perpetrators, it tells them that bullying is something they can continue to get away with. For victims, it tells them that you’re not taking their concerns seriously, and may even deter them from reaching out to you with further issues because they feel that nothing will change. For that reason, it’s important to establish fair and consistent consequences for bullying early on and follow through on them throughout the year as issues arise. There should be consequences for actions, not punishment for people. If a student who is being bullied didn’t come to you, think about the reasons why. They may be embarrassed or (again) feel scared of retaliation, among other things. Keep this in mind when you go to address the situation. Have separate discussions with students who are bullied and those who are doing the bullying. Think about what kinds of systemic changes need to happen to promote more open communication for all students. WHAT TO DO If you think students aren’t comfortable reporting bullying to you: If a student who is being bullied didn’t come to you, think about the reasons why. They may be embarrassed or feel scared of retaliation, among other things. Keep this in mind when you go to address the situation. Have separate discussions with students who are bullied and those who are doing the bullying. Think about what kinds of systemic changes need to happen to promote more open communication for all students. If possible, give students your school email address and encourage them to reach out to you (for anything, including bullying or other issues they may be having in the classroom). Establishing this line of communication can help foster trust and give students the opportunity to share their experiences in a safer and lower pressure environment. Create an anonymous message box for the classroom. Students can write notes about bullying or other sensitive topics. This allows students to avoid singling themselves out, and you can go on to have a classroom-wide discussion about the issues students have brought up.

WE Teachers Bullying Module 15

Teachers and Bullying Bullying Prevention in the Classroom 23 Establish a culture of inclusion. Celebrate diversity in the classroom, and reward students who make an effort to include classmates who might be having a hard time. (See page 23 for the classroom activity) Set a tone of respect. Manage student behaviors in the classroom and ensure they are showing respect for the teacher and the rules, as well as the other students in the class. Develop rules with students. Engage students in creating a list of rules and expectations at the begin- ning of the year. Try to encourage “what to do” rules rather than “what not to do,” and hold your students to these guidelines and expectations consistently so that students know that violating these rules will always result in consequences and meeting expectations is valued. Be a good role model. Showing goes much further than telling when it comes to student behavior. Model your expectations for your students by showing respect, staying calm in emotional situations and treating all students equally. (See page 22 for the self-improvement activity) Reward and acknowledge good behavior. Positive feedback is better than negative feedback, so make an effort to highlight the good behavior of the students in your class. Perhaps this means choosing a “student of the week” and share with the class the behaviors that this student exhibited that got them the title. Give one-on-one feedback. Embarrassing students when they do something wrong by pointing their mistake or bad behavior out in front of the whole class fosters resentment, not a desire to improve. If it becomes necessary to punish or redirect a student’s behavior, do so in private. Hold classroom meetings. Ask students what they think is going well in their classroom and discuss areas of improvement. Return to the classroom rules and ex- pectations throughout the year and make adjustments as necessary. (See page 23 for the classroom activity)

Staff-on-staff Bullying (When You’re the Victim) Before Taking Action:

Stay calm. It’s really easy to take it personally when someone attacks you on something that’s near and dear to your heart and, as a teacher, being bullied by another teacher will definitely hit close to home. But as you will tell your students, when someone is picking on you it says more about them than it does you. The important thing is to try to remain level-headed, because bullies (of all ages) are usually looking for a reaction and refusing to give them one is a good start to getting them to stop. Be reflective. First and foremost, bullying is never excusable. If someone hurts you on a consistent basis, that needs to be addressed. But you can also look at the nature of the bullying and where it might be coming from. Is it rude and aggressive behavior with no point other than to be mean? In that case, this person is probably unhappy with their own life and is taking it out on others. Could it be that this person is being rude and excessively critical about something specific in your job? If you think this may be the case, ask them if they can give you this feedback in a less hostile manner. Perhaps they have a harsh communication style but really just want to help you improve. However, to reiterate, if you feel hurt or threatened by this person, the priority is making that behavior stop. Record! Even if you’re not sure you plan on taking action against the person you feel is bullying you, it’s important to record the incidents and behaviors that are affecting you negatively. That way, if you do plan to take action either formally or informally, you can calmly reference the issues at hand, rather than having to scramble to address the problems on the spot. It helps you have a stronger case if disciplinary action is needed and, at the very least, helps ensure that the specific behaviors that are bothering you are the behaviors that will be addressed.


Section 2: Identifying and Preventing Bullying

Tips for Taking Action: Know your resources. For example, if you’re part of your local teacher’s union, they may have resources regarding workplace harassment, bullying and retal- iation or “whistleblowing” policies. You don’t need to decide to take action to use these resources, but it can be an important step along the way. Go to the source first. If someone has made you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or unhappy at work, sometimes the last thing you want to do is confront that person. But it’s important to address these issues head-on if it is safe to do so. Making your physical and emotional safety a priority, try scheduling a meeting with the person and address the behaviors that are hurting or bothering you. You can always ask another neutral party to come with you if you don’t feel safe or comfortable setting up the meeting alone. Do your best to stay calm and not let your emotions interfere with your goal of resolving the conflict. Let the person know how their actions affect you and let them know that if they continue, you will file a formal complaint. Formal complaints. Filing a complaint with your school district is always an option that takes the responsibility of getting the bullying to stop away from you. The bad news is that once it gets to this level, there isn’t much you can personally do. The good news is that hopefully, you will have an authority figure advocating for you and you know that you advocated for yourself to the best of your ability. Self-care. All educators can get fatigued from time to time. It is a tiring job with a number of consistent stressors. Adding workplace bullying to the mix only intensifies this stress, so it is very important to build yourself a buffer from this stress by taking good care of yourself outside of work. Avoid taking your work home with you, engage in activities unrelated to work that help take your mind off the demands of the week, and access your social support network as needed. Taking care of your own physical and emotional needs is always beneficial to your life in and out of work and can help you be more prepared to deal with negative experi- ences when they occur. There is no shame in caring for yourself first, especially when things get challenging in your workplace.

When You’re the Bully We don’t like to think of ourselves as bad people, but not everyone who bullies is a bad person. Maybe you were having a bad day. Maybe a disagreement with someone went too far. Whether someone has told you that you bullied or you reflected and realized you did something wrong, here’s what to do. Take responsibility. The first step is admitting that you crossed a line without downplaying the impact it had on someone else. Don’t think or say things like “They deserved it” or “It was just a joke.” Apologize. You should sincerely apologize to the person you bullied and anyone who witnessed the behavior. A good apology shows that you have taken responsibility, like, “I’m sorry I made comments about your appearance. It was completely uncalled for, and it won’t happen again.” A poor apology includes things like “I’m sorry if you were offended.” Offer to fix things. If your bullying had consequences for another person, you should offer to fix things. If you spread a rumor about someone, you may need to go back and tell others that what you said was untrue. Change your behavior. Once you have identified bad behavior, you should figure out how to change moving forward. You may think you’re being funny when you’re actually hurting someone’s feelings. If that’s the case, a change could be “The only person I can make fun of moving forward is myself.” Or you may decide not to participate in any rumor spreading. Reflect. You should also reflect on why you did what you did and see if you need to make bigger changes. Maybe you’re feeling very insecure, and that is causing you to want attention. Or maybe someone else is bul- lying you, so passing it along is making you feel better. Reflecting on the true causes can help you improve. Seek help if you need it. If this is a regular pattern of behavior or you think something has happened, you can seek help from others.

WE Teachers Bullying Module 17

Section 3: Going Further and Resources The worksheets and activities in this section are designed to engage your students as they learn about bullying and help broaden their understanding of the issue. You can also find all resources that were referenced in this module.


Section 3: Learning About Bullying in the Classroom

Worksheets and Activities Examine Your Own Biases (True or False) 1. It’s good to call a bully a bully. True False

6. Adults can bully children. True False

2. Most students don’t report bullying to adults. True False

7. Social bullying is just as bad as physical bullying. True False

3. Bullies are bad people. True False

8. Bullying usually occurs in a classroom. True False

4. A bystander who interferes with bullying can stop the behavior. True False

9. It is best to allow students to cope with bullying on their own, without adult intervention. True False

5. Schools can’t do anything about cyberbullying. True False

1. False. Labeling a bully as a bully can hurt the perpetrator’s mental health and/or contribute to bullying. However, it is good to label the act of bullying as bullying to show how important it is. 2. True. Most victims of bullying do not report this behavior to teachers or adults. That is why it’s important to watch students interacting with each other and think about bullying. Many students think that teachers won’t know what to do if they give them that information. 3. False. There is a reason why someone might become a bully. By identifying the reason (trauma, depression, insecurity) and addressing it, schools can fight the behavior. 4. True. Bystander intervention is the key to stopping bullying. 5.False. Some schools don’t have policies in place unless cyberbullying impacts school performance and the classroom. But if a school is aware of cyberbullying, the school can take certain measures (such as moving students) to protect the victims of cyberbullying. 6. True. Even though there is less academic research on adults bullying children, it is possible for adults like teachers to bully children. If you use sarcasm when talking to a student that can isolate the student and make them feel bad. 7. True. Students report that social bullying, like rumor spreading, is just as bad as physical bullying. In fact, when it comes to sexual harassment, the thing that the most students said would upset them was spreading rumors. 8. False. Bullying is often likely to occur in places where teachers are not present or close to students. This could include at after- school activities, in the parking lot, in the bathrooms or on the playground. Other staff, like nurses or cafeteria workers, may be helpful in identifying bullying. 9. False. While it is important for students to be upstanders and to positively influence each other, it’s also important that students feel supported and protected in your classroom. If you “let it slide” and assume that students will work it out on their own, you may send a message that you silently approve of the bullying behaviors. Not everyone feels comfortable standing up for themselves or advocating for others, especially when they experience or witness bullying. As a teacher, it’s important to show your students that you are supporting them by addressing bullying when you hear about or witness it.

WE Teachers Bullying Module 19

Worksheet: What to Do in Each Scenario Think about how you would respond if any of these common things came up. While in the lunchroom, you overhear a group of students talking about how a student, Samantha, slept with two different boys over the weekend. They call Samantha a slut. What should you do about this behavior?

In the hallway, you witness a student, Joe, knocking all of the things out of another student, Jeff’s, locker. How should you respond?

You ask students in your classroom to create their own groups. You notice that students always move away from one student, Gary. How should you respond?

One of your students shows you an Instagram page for a non-binary teen named Ocean. It is clear from the content of the page that this is not Ocean’s page and someone else is using it to make fun of them. What should you do?


Section 3: Learning About Bullying in the Classroom

You have already talked to a student, Kate, about her bullying behavior toward another student, Jenny. Kate has been suspended before for physically attacking Jenny in the bathroom. Another student tells you that Kate brought a knife to school and threatened Jenny in the parking lot. What would you do?

You notice that someone has painted the word “FAG” across another student’s car in the parking lot. What do you do?

Active Listening Checklist I make eye contact with the person that is talking to me. I am leaning forward, inclining my head or otherwise using good body language. I am naturally making expressions that match the person talking to me. I am not fidgeting with anything with my hands. I am not looking at a clock. I am agreeing with the speaker when it is important. I am mentally remembering important points. I am taking notes if necessary. I am asking questions for clarification. I am summarizing what I heard back to the person. I am not making judgments. I am waiting until I am certain the person is done before speaking.

I am not interrupting. I am not daydreaming.

WE Teachers Bullying Module 21

Perspective Taking Worksheet (for Educators) Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can help you empathize with others. This trauma-informed approach can help you understand why something is going on and improve how you treat people. Megan is a friend of yours who has been trying to have a baby for two years. Your other friends just found out they are pregnant. They’re hurt that Megan isn’t happy for them. What might be happening?

You just received a pay raise at work. You thought your partner would be happy, but she isn’t. What might be happening?

Your best friend’s son is having a hard time in math. Your friend tells you she has hired a professional tutor to help him. You, a math teacher, are offended that your friend never asked you to help her son. What might your friend have been thinking?

You’re sitting in the staff lounge and an older teacher appears to be struggling with their laptop. A much younger teacher comes over and offers to help. The older teacher shuts the laptop quickly and walks away grumbling. What might be happening?

You’re at a parent teacher conference and you inform a parent that their child is consistently getting Cs on their assignments. You expected that the parent would be disappointed with their child’s academic performance, but the parent is clearly happy with the news. What might be going on?


Section 3: Learning About Bullying in the Classroom

ClassroomMeeting Having standing classroom meetings can help. They should be short and held on a regular basis with students. Meetings should each focus on a different, specific topic.

Sample Agenda for Classroom Meeting on Cyberbullying Introduction. “Today we’re going to talk about how cyberbullying is something that impacts everyone.” Defining the Issues. “Who can tell me what cyberbully- ing is? What behaviors are cyberbullying?” Focus on the Positive. “What are good behaviors that you have seen online this week?” Introduce the Issue. “Without naming any names, can you share an example of cyberbullying you have witnessed?” Encourage Upstanding. “Did anyone else see this? What did other people do? What did you do? Did you want to do something different and why?” Focus on the Future. “What was the right response to the situation? How hard or easy was it?” Include Others. “What could I have done? What could the school have done? What could other adults have done?” Sample Agenda for Classroom Meeting on Harassment Introduction. “Today we’re going to talk about harassment, and how we can make sure that everyone feels safe and comfortable with the way we treat them.” Please note that conversations about harassment or violence can be particularly upsetting for those who have already experienced it. Consider issuing a trigger warning at least one day in advance of the meeting and providing an alternate activity for students who feel they need to opt out of participating. Also note that the sample questions below may be more suitable for older students. These can be adapted for younger students by focusing on topics like treating each other with respect. Defining the Issues. “Who can tell me what harassment is? What behaviors might be considered harassment?” Create a list. Add to it yourself if items are missing. Not everyone will know right away what constitutes harassment. Introduce the Issue. “Without getting explicit, what kinds of comments or behaviors might make others

feel uncomfortable? How can we avoid unintentional harassment? What signs can we look for to know if someone is uncomfortable? What can we do if we real- ize we have made someone uncomfortable? What can you do if someone is making you feel uncomfortable?” Encourage Upstanding. “Has anyone else see this? Without naming names or saying specifics, what did other people do? What did you do? Did you want to do something different, and why?” Focus on the Future. “What was the right response to the situation? How hard or easy was it?” Include Others. “What could I have done? What could the school have done? What could other adults have done?” Sample Agenda for Classroom Meeting on Being an Upstander Introduction. “Today we’re going to talk about the importance of being an upstander.” Defining the Issues. “Who can tell me what an upstander is? Why might it be important to be an upstander?” Introduce the Issue. “Without naming any names, can you share an example of a time you saw someone be a good upstander?” Educate. “What are some different ways to be an upstander? How do we stay safe when we intervene? When is it appropriate to be an upstander? Do up- standers always have to act right away?” Practice for the Future. Introduce some different types of bullying scenarios and ask students the following questions. “What type of upstander behavior would work well here? How hard or easy would it be? Do you feel prepared to be an upstander in this kind of situation?”

Other Classroom Meetings Topics: • Conflict resolution • Respecting differences • Social inclusion

WE Teachers Bullying Module 23

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