How Can Teachers Prevent Bullying?

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Name-calling, mockery, harassment and threats are bullying. They are traumatic. Remember: Any experience that leaves a person feeling hopeless, helpless and unable to do something about their situation is trauma. Children who experience bullying often feel unsafe at school. They might worry about seeing other students in class or in the hallways who are overtly mean by calling them names or show more covert behaviors such laughing as they walk by or giving nasty looks. Students who are bullied might be fearful of rumors saying, “Someone is going to beat you up today.” They are often afraid to discuss their problems due to embarrassment or worry that reports will just make things worse.

What Are the Signs of Possibly Bullying?

While every student may process the emotional toll of bullying in different ways, there are several signs that should encourage teachers to stay curious about what might be happening:

  • Sudden tearfulness but will not disclose what is wrong
  • Sitting or doing things alone
  • Self-deprecating remarks
  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Decline in school functioning
  • Attendance issues – students who are bullied often skip school

How Can Teachers Prevent Bullying?

It's certainly the responsibility of staff to intervene when witnessing or hearing about bullying in their school or classroom. However, there are several strategies for teachers to be proactive before the bullying occurs:

  • Do not brush off the small stuff. Take name-calling, mockery, harassment and threats seriously.
  • Set the tone immediately for kind, inclusive and respectful interactions and behavior. Continue these discussions often.
  • Make reporting bullying feel safe for victims and witnesses.
  • Adult supervision should be present everywhere in the school building.
  • Make sure every student feels connected to at least one adult in your building.
  • Make intentional connection opportunities for students who need support from peers.

Making intentional efforts to connect with all students throughout the school is critical. We should not expect every staff member to have a relationship with every student in the school, but we can certainly expect the staff as a whole to ensure every student has an adult they can rely on in the building. Click below to download Starr's individual and school-wide connections assessments.

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By Dr. Caelan Soma, PsyD, LMSW

Dr. Caelan Soma, PsyD, LMSW, Chief Clinical Officer, oversees all clinical operations and research at Starr Commonwealth. Dr. Soma provides trauma assessment and trauma-informed, resilience-focused intervention for youth utilizing evidence-based practices, including Starr’s SITCAP© model programs.

About Starr Commonwealth

Starr Commonwealth is dedicated to the mission to lead with courage to create positive experiences so that all children, families, and communities flourish. We specialize in residential, community-based, educational, and professional training programs that build on the strengths of children, adults, and families in communities around the world. To schedule a training or consultation, please contact or call 800-837-5591.