How to Stop Bullying in its Tracks

With all the recent events happening across the United States in schools, we felt it was time to address the issue of bullying. In this article, we hope to help you, as an educator, to stop bullying in its tracks.

In order to stop bullying, students have to understand what bullying is. Brainstorm with your students what their perceptions are about bullying. Ask your students to share a time when they felt they were bullied or when they saw another student being bullied. Students can share in front of the entire class- just make it clear that they are not to use any specific names. Students can also share their experiences on an index card that can be collected. Write down some of their experiences on chart paper. After the list is compiled, engage your students in a discussion as to which of the incidents would be considered bullying. Your main focus for this part is for your students to understand that bullying is where someone is repeatedly harassing a student. Keep the compiled list of experiences handy so you can refer to it when you discuss forms of bullying.

Pre Survey
To begin, have your students taking the “Bully Buster Pre-Survey” to see what they already know. When students are finished with the pre-survey, have a general discussion about bullying with your students. The “Bullying Pre-Survey” can help guide this discussion. Ask them if they have ever been bullied before? Most, if not all, of your students will raise their hands. This is common.

Key Definitions
Share with your students the “Key Bullying Vocabulary Cards”. It is up to you how you want to share these. You can project each one on a screen and have students take notes or provide each student a set of cards. These cards can also be displayed around the room. The vocabulary words on the cards are important words that relate to bullying. The words include bully, bystander, victim, upstander, bullying, and assistant. Below is an example of the cards.

Forms of Bullying
At this point, share with your students the forms of bullying. The “Forms of Bullying Cards” will help you with this. You can project each one on a screen and have students take notes or provide each student a set of cards. These cards can also be displayed around the room. The forms of bullying include verbal, social, physical, and cyber. Once you feel that your students understand the forms of bullying refer back to their experiences and have your students identify which form of bullying was taking place.

Reasons for Bullying
An important discussion to have with your students is why one student may choose to bully another student. Brainstorm with your students about these reasons. Some possible reasons for bullying are:
 It makes them feel stronger, smarter, or better than the other student.
 The student who is bullying may have been bullied or picked on.
 The student may think that it is what he/she has to do in order to hang out with the “in” crowd.
 The student may think it is okay because they see others doing it.
 The student may be jealous of the other another student.

Confronting a Bully
Share and discuss how a “Bully Buster” poster can be useful when confronting a bully. This poster can also be displayed in your classroom. Discuss what the “BUSTER” acronym means.

 B- Be a friend to someone who is being bullied. Bully Buster Tip: Encourage your students to not walk away from the incident in order to show the victim that they care.
 U- Use a firm voice to the bully to let him/her know you mean it. Bully Buster Tip: Remind your students that If they are shy, timid, or afraid, that if they
 S- Stand up to and speak out against the bully. Bully Buster Tip: Let your students know that it is okay to stand up for what they believe is right. Stress the importance that this should be done in a respectful and non-physical way.
 T- Tell an adult about what happened. Bully Buster Tip: Some students may not have a problem letting an adult know about a situation that they are concerned about. However, some students may worry that they will be known as a “tattler” or “snitch”. It’s important for students to know that when they share something with an adult, it will remain confidential.
 E- Exit the scene with the victim as soon as you can. Bully Buster Tip: The longer students stick around, the higher the chance that the bully will continue or the situation could escalate.
 R- Reassure the person being bullied that you are there to help. Bully Buster Tip: Remind your students that showing empathy to someone else is a valuable part of life.
Below is an example of a Bully Buster poster that you could display in your classroom.

Role Play
Once you feel that your students have a pretty good understanding of how to be a “Bully Buster” it may be time to use the “Bully Buster Role Play cards”. It is up to you on how you want the role play to look within your classroom, but you may find it beneficial to use all roles (bully, victim, bystander, upstander, and assistant). Your students may also benefit by referring to the “Bully Buster Poster” when role playing. In addition, you may find it helpful for your students to reflect on each role play. Below is one example of role play cards you could use.

Post Survey
At the end of the unit, have your students take a post survey. We use the same questions that are on the pre survey. It is powerful to see what they have learned and what they will now do to help stop bullying not only in their class group of peers but school-wide as well.

Bully Buster Contract 
Challenge your students to be “Bully Busters”! Have them sign a contract. Below is an example you could use.

For the complete Bullying Unit that includes vocabulary cards, role play cards, a game board, both pre and post surveys and so much more, click here.