Bully-Proofing Your School

April 14th, 2016

In the last issue, I talked about steps that educators can take to minimize the chances that a likely target would be bullied. Here are a few additional concrete suggestions that can be given to teachers and others in your building to minimize the potential occurrences of bullying.

We know educators cannot be everywhere (although you sometimes feel you are expected to be). However, keep in mind that bullies can be shrewd and know where to go after their targets: they will do it wherever they sense that there is less adult supervision (or as my father used to say about where to hit the baseball: ‘…hit ‘em wherever they ain’t.’)

Teachers should be encouraged to physically arrange their classrooms to avoid blind-spots and to scan their classroom during less structured activities to detect possible peer problems. (Indeed, attempts should be made to monitor all unstructured situations as closely as is feasible.)

As you are no doubt aware, there are times of the day and areas of the school where bullying behavior is more likely to occur. As such, it is wise to increase supervision in the playground, the lunch room, hallway, bus lines and the like. These are some suggestions you can give faculty in this regard:

Teachers should leave their classrooms and stand in hallways in between classes whenever classes are moving from one location to another;

Teachers should avoid congregating together during lunch duty, and should be encouraged to roam the cafeteria as often as possible.
Teachers should encourage students to leave valuable property and large amounts of money at home, so as not to serve as a temptation for those who would bully someone to get an expensive pair of sneakers or jacket, etc. (i.e. ‘…lead them not into temptation…’)

Perhaps the strongest suggestion would be for teachers to appear unannounced at various locations to observe behavior and to make sporadic appearances where they don’t normally appear.

I realize these suggestions may appear obvious to some. However, I have found in working with educators, the day-to-day demands placed on teachers sometimes gets in the way of these common sense strategies. It never hurts to be reminded that in taking these simple steps, they are helping to create an environment where the likelihood of bullying decreases.