Making a change starts from the top
When any change is mandated and pushed by the top management, implementation of the same gets percolated very easily all across. Similarly, in the case of our initiative, we need to start with the school management, the principals and the teachers. Unless we have them onboard, simply educating students about bullying would not have the desired effect we are aiming for.
Once the top management of the school, which is usually the school board, puts a clearly defined policy and system in place, everyone else will follow.
Imparting training is also a very important component of this whole initiative. You would agree that it will not be possible for anyone to take on a responsibility and perform it to the best of their ability unless he or she has been trained to do so. A trained manager will have better reactions and will work in a much more organized manner to protect the employees under him, compared with an untrained manager. This is the responsibility of the management to provide proper training on workplace safety to all the personnel who are directly responsible for the safety of other employees on their team.
Similarly, in a school, unless the teachers have been trained to handle bullies and the victims, they cannot be the ones who are blamed. The blame would rest at the door of the school’s top management. Unless the teachers are made aware of what their job entails and what job requirements and obligations they are required to fulfill, they would not be in a position to properly handle situations such as bullying.
Properly trained teachers are aware of the fact that they have the responsibility of ensuring the safety of the children in the school because they now understand the consequences of bullying on the perpetrator, the victim and the bystanders.
According to the findings of CEEP (Center for Evaluation of Educational Procedures); when schools have a proactive Anti Bullying Program in place where teachers are trained to deal with and follow up with bullying, along with parents who are educated about their role in bullying, all these combined together can reduce violence up to 50% in the school.
Some general characteristics of successful Anti Bullying Programs
- A whole school approach is essential.
- The school begins by identifying the extent of the problem – e.g. whole school questionnaire or survey.
- The school involves all members of the school community in developing their Anti Bullying Committee.
- The school institutes awareness so that bullying is not something that is ‘hidden’- e.g. a poster competition, school assembly, reporting systems, tracking systems, mentoring program, self esteem program and using the formal curriculum to lift awareness to all involved.
- Students, staff and parents are involved in an effective educational program to train and support them in identifying and preventing bullying.
- A tracking system in place to allow teachers to document and follow up.
- A clear written policy is available to the whole school community that outlines how the school will deal with incidents of bullying.
- The policy includes a procedure for complaints.
- The policy includes support for the victim and the bully.
- The policy includes bystanders and their responsibilities. The policy is applied consistently.
- Supervision is high in known problem areas.
- Records are kept of reported incidents of bullying and how each incident was handled.
- The school’s Anti Bullying Program is evaluated regularly.
We would like to reiterate the importance of strategic planning. We must have a well thought out plan, properly defined policies and procedures in place with a pro-active approach and aware top management who understands the effects and consequences of bullying both on an individual and also on the community as a whole.
(Visit www.Reportbullying.com for more information on our proactive programs)