International Bullying Prevention Association

How do you sustain bullying prevention efforts over time?

First, there needs to be a bullying prevention “champion” in your school/district. This person needs to be passionate about creating a safe environment for children—and provided with professional development in order to stay current on the research into best practices and learning form practitioners in other schools. IBPA’s regional and international conferences are a great place for this professional development. Some states also have networks that meet regularly. Commitment to reading blogs and research from the professionals in the field helps as well.

Second, the message needs to be clear, consistent, and repeated often—“we are doing bullying prevention because it is important to keep our students safe in order for them to be able to learn to the best of their ability.” It is extremely important that all staff be given an annual “booster” to remind them of the difference between bullying and conflict, and equally important, what to do when they see it, suspect it, or it is reported to them. In addition, a monthly newsletter with highlights from research, news from the classroom (staff ARE interested in what others are doing in their district), and available resources (books, speakers, conferences, etc) helps to keep the message front and center on a regular basis. Providing practical ideas of what to do in their classrooms to create a safe environment are appreciated and welcomed. Having regular time during staff meetings or team collaboration to talk about bullying prevention and related topics is also essential. All of these efforts are important because when we stop talking about it, we stop thinking about it, we stop doing it.

Third, be aware that training is never complete. There are always new personnel that need to be trained in bullying prevention and intervention. Teachers, teacher aides, lunch and playground supervisors, custodial staff, bus drivers, nurses, office staff, administrators—all are critical people who need to know, not only how to prevent bullying and promote civility, but also what to do when they see it, suspect it, or it is reported to them.

Fourth, gather a group of teachers from across the grade levels to prepare an annual K-12 class meeting plan. When teachers are involved in the creation of this plan, it is much more creative, teacher friendly, and more likely to be used. This is an excellent way to incorporate district-wide initiatives as well. Perhaps there is going to be a guest author visiting the district during the school year. The annual class meeting plan can take that into consideration and have meetings based on the author’s books or themes in the author’s books. If the district has an emphasis on learning about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the human rights articles can be incorporated into the annual plan. The more teacher-friendly this annual plan is, the more likely it will be implemented in the classroom. Having teachers involved in preparing it, assures that it is more likely to be taken seriously by administrators and teachers.

Fifth, have a clear investigation protocol for when a bullying incident is reported. Train individuals in every building in the district on how to do a proper investigation and follow-up accordingly. This, of course, needs to be done in conjunction with the state law and district policy. Having a clear investigation protocol eliminates the “but nobody ever does anything about it” message that can kill any program. Hang in there. Keep going. It is good for our children for you to do so.

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