Teachers Can Help Prevent and Respond to Bullying

Recognize the symptoms of bullying:

  • Physical injuries, headaches, sleep disturbances, or other physical symptoms that aren’t fully explained by a known medical condition.
  • Depression, anxiety, self-harming behavior (more common for girls) and anger, aggression, and engagement in risky and impulsive behavior (more common for boys). Children’s grades or test scores may be negatively impacted as well.
  • Children who are both perpetrators and targets of bullying may have poor peer relationships, health problems, and aggression.

Ensure that there is effective supervision, especially in bullying “hot spots” such as playgrounds.

Be aware that connectedness to others is a significant buffer that can help bullied youth avoid developing social, emotional, academic, and behavioral problems. For example, having at least one trusted and supportive adult at school, which in many cases is a teacher, can help buffer LGBT youth who are bullied from displaying suicidal behaviors.

Help schools implement evidence-based bullying prevention programs. The most effective programs combine elements for all students – such as classroom discussions about bullying – with targeted interventions for students most at risk of being bullied. In addition, teachers and other professionals need a more consistent, intentional, and evidence-based system of training to support their efforts to prevent bullying.

Be aware of what doesn’t work. For example, zero tolerance policies, which use suspension and other harsh penalties, do not appear to be effective, and there is little evidence that they curb bullying or make schools safer.