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5 Ways to Prevent Bullying in Your Classroom

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As educators, we have an important role to play in ensuring all children are safe and supported in schools, communities, and online. One impactful way for us to unite in this mission is by celebrating National Bullying Prevention Month this October. This month long campaign, initiated by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, unites a nation to take action at the local level to prevent bullying and to promote kindness, acceptance and inclusion.  

Along with inspiring individuals to take action, National Bullying Prevention Month has also helped shift social norms and expectations around the issue of bullying. For so long, bullying was viewed as “a childhood rite of passage” that “made kids tougher,” but the reality has always been that bullying can leave devastating and often long-term effects. Students affected by bullying are at greater risk for both mental health and behavioral problems. They often experience loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety, poor school adjustment, and depression.

This is a time for us to show students who experience bullying that there is hope. 

5 Ways to Prevent Bullying in Your Classroom

As educators, we have a shared responsibility to create a safe and healthy environment for our students. Here are some ways to help prevent bullying in your classroom. While the ways to address bullying vary depending on the age, here are some general tips and good practices.

  1. Talk about bullying - let your students know how people are affected by bullying – and its consequences. Explore your students’ ideas of how to prevent bullying, what each student can do individually and as part of a community.
  2. Ensure adults are visible – near bathrooms, hallways, the lunchroom, around buses in the morning and afternoon, and at recess. This will take away from bullies who seek out ‘opportunity.’
  3. Recognize common types of bullying – look for ‘gateway indicators’ such as rolling eyes, laughing at someone, and other subtle forms of bullying which can grow over time if unchecked.
  4. Build rapport with students – When you know your students as individuals and show personal interest, it can help you watch for signs that they may be experiencing bullying.
  5. Watch for cliques in the classroom – When you are doing group projects, mix up the groups to give students an opportunity to know other students outside their usual circle.

Maintaining open communication with students and building a sense of community in the classroom will go a long way to preventing bullying and ensuring a healthy environment for all.

As you plan your efforts for National Bullying Prevention Month, here are resources to help get the conversation started with your students about the importance of bullying prevention, as well as the impact they can make with their words and action. Bullying prevention is up to all of us—together, we can help create a world without bullying!

Classroom Toolkits and Resources for Elementary School Students

  • Kids Against Bullying Website: A creative, innovative, and educational website designed for elementary school students to learn about bullying prevention, engage in activities, and be inspired to take action.
  • Kids Against Bullying Classroom Activity Book: An eight-page classroom activity book designed with educational activities to help young learners in creative ways. The booklet provides activities to help students think about their feelings, explore responses to bullying situations, and take the pledge to be a Kid Against Bullying.
  • Animated Video Series for Elementary School Students: The series of animated videos creatively illustrates what it feels like to be bullied, what students can do if they see bullying, and how to be an advocate for kindness, acceptance, and inclusion. Watch each video, then hold a classroom discussion using the suggested questions.
  • Include Someone Kit: Created in partnership with Cartoon Network’s Stop Bullying: Speak Up campaign, this kit has everything you need to start the conversation about why inclusion matters and how to be inclusive. Each Include Someone kit has enough materials for 50 elementary school students and features a poster, educator’s guide, stickers, inclusion cards, and a classroom activity.
  • Spookley the Square Pumpkin, Classroom Toolkit: Share the book (and video), “Spookley the Square Pumpkin,” in the classroom. Spookley is a square pumpkin who lives in a round pumpkin world. The story delivers a powerful message of kindness and acceptance in a fun, accessible, and entertaining format that is easily grasped by young students.
  • Teaching Kindness in the Classroom Resources: Help early learners build healthy social and emotional habits with this special collection of resources all about promoting kindness, during Bullying Prevention Month and all year long! These activities, videos, tips, and guides offer thoughtful ways to demonstrate and encourage kind behavior in your classroom.

Bullying Prevention Activities for Elementary School Students

  • Create a Unity Tree: This is a great interactive and hands-on activity, a shared experience in which anyone can participate, and everyone can watch the tree grow. Each person writes a positive message about their own unique experiences, creative ideas, and strategies on leaves that are then attached to the tree.
  • Project Connect: Invite students to write a message on a strip of ORANGE construction paper. The strips are then stapled or glued together, resulting in one long, connected chain that visually represents the power of uniting for a common cause.

Bailey Huston Coordinator

Bailey Huston is the coordinator of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. Bailey provides support and resources to students, parents, educators and other regarding bullying prevention. Bailey came to PACER in 2014 after receiving her bachelor’s degree in child, youth and family studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While completing her undergraduate degree, she interned with a community outreach organization to develop a bullying prevention curriculum for local after-school programs. Bailey also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA, providing support to underserved students and schools in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs. While working at PACER, Bailey earned her Masters of Education in Youth Development Leadership from the University of Minnesota.

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