What Can be Done To Prevent Bullying? Taking steps to prevent bullying or stop it from escalating is certainly possible and desirable Many young children engage in aggressive behaviors that may lead to bullying. If bullying behaviour is not challenged and rectified in childhood, there is a risk that it may become habit forming and entrenched later on in life. Strategies and actions will be more effective when applied early to children who are young or have just begun to show signs of bullying. The earlier intervention is made the better the outcome will likely be.
While it’s never too late to alter a bully’s patterns of behavior for the better, it is usually much more difficult to change established behavior in later years. This is because such behavior has had a chance to become inculcated and “hard wired” into the bully’s mindset.
Bullying prevention should ideally begin in the most formative and impressionable stages of a child’s development. Pre-school is an ideal time for this. Adults can teach children important bullying prevention concepts and skills. They can then guide children as they play and practice using these skills in social settings.
What Can be Done To Prevent Bullying?
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Social skills that form an important building block for preventing bullying include:
Solving social problems
Showing empathy toward others
Standing Up To Bullies
Children often feel trapped as targets of bullying and often perceive themselves as being helpless to escape their victim role. But there are ways to change their feelings of helplessness to ones of confidence. Many victims of bullying resort to using either passive submission or aggressive retaliation toward their tormentors.
However, the best approach in responding to bullying is by targets learning to stand up for themselves by responding in an assertive – not aggressive - manner. If used appropriately, assertive responses should neither provoke the bully nor reward them with submission. Using an assertive manner in these situations can give a child a degree of self-confidence and a sense of control that can be off-putting to the bully and deter their approach from the very beginning. Every time a child responds assertively to a bully’s provocations, fearful and helpless thoughts are replaced by strong and confident ones.
Tips For Standing Up For Yourself
Stay cool, calm and collected
Take a deep breath and let the air out slowly.
Don’t cower - sit or stand tall, head up.
Check your body language - keep your hands at your sides rather than on your hips or folded across your chest.
Don’t show facial expressions of anger or laughter – have a relaxed but focused demeanor instead.
Make and keep eye contact with your aggressor.
Speak with a calm and confident voice that’s loud enough to be heard clearly.
Avoid using provocative words but use a positive tone of voice
Try and avoid getting into name-calling, slanging matches or using threats.
Avoid pointing fingers, poking or other intimidating gestures.
Respond briefly, succinctly and directly.
Do your best to avoid bringing up past hostilities or making sweeping generalizations.
The Future - Strategies And Actions To Stamp Out Bullying
We can all do something positive to reduce bullying behavior in our society. When you hear or see bullying occurring around you consider adopting the following strategies and tactics: Intervene straight away Intervene straight away - When you know something is happening but don’t do anything about it, it’s the same as sending the signal that bullying is OK. If you just overlook the situation or play down the problem, the child on the receiving end of the abuse simply won’t believe that grown ups understand, care or can help the situation. A very sage rule to remember is that if you don’t show genuine concern and intervene children won’t either.
Get involved Get involved even if you’re not absolutely certain it’s bullying – Studying kid’s actions, words, body language, and facial expressions will give you some tell tale clues as to whether bullying is occurring. Even if the behavior doesn’t constitute bullying, aggressive conduct should be checked and, if need be, corrected or stopped.
Seperate the victim and the bully Move to where the bullying is occurring and position yourself between or near the victim and the bully. Taking proper precautions try and physically separate them if necessary in order to stop the bullying behavior – In the case of younger children, removing them from the situation to a designated “time-out” area or similar can be effective. Enlisting the support of another adult will often help to diffuse the situation more quickly and provide for a secondary witness to the incident.
Act firmly but appropriately Act firmly but appropriately - Convey the gravity of the situation to those involved while preserving a cool, calm and collected disposition. Using an assertive tone, announce that the bullying must stop. Maintaining close eye contact with the bully, describe the behavior you witnessed, why it is unacceptable and the consequences of any recurrence.
Enlist further help if required – Where the bully is being physical, or they are a bigger/stronger child, or there is more than one bully, it might be advisable to enlist the support of another grown up to help maintain safety and afford protection to yourself.
Respond assertively - not aggressively Respond assertively not aggressively – Two wrongs don’t make a right. Solving problems using aggressive tactics is not the way to go. Doing so may encourage a bully or a bystander to elevate their bullying behavior or become aggressive toward you.
Avoid humiliating the bully Try and avoid humiliating the bully by lecturing or berating them in front of their peers – When intervening, the objective is to bring a prompt end to the behavior. This should ideally be achieved without humiliating, ridiculing or shaming the bully. While some people believe it may serve as a deterrent, lecturing and dressing-down may provide the bully with attention that he or she finds stimulating, encouraging and rewarding.
Think before meting-out consequences Avoid meting-out immediate consequences – In the heat of the moment its easy to lose one’s cool and impose consequences upon the perpetrator that may be totally disproportionate to the severity of the incident. Give yourself some time to reflect and consider the incident. Obtain any other clarifying information. Once you’ve gathered all the facts decide the best course of action in the circumstances.
Adults need to take control and resolve the problem Adults should take control of the situation and resolve it. Asking children to sort out the situation for themselves is not ideal and can make matters worse – Unlike a simple disagreement, bullying involves an imbalance of power that calls for a mature mind to intervene and set things right. Children lack the insights and world experience that an adult brings to resolving a conflict.
Acknowledge and praise helpful bystanders Take a moment to offer praise and appreciation to helpful bystanders – helpful bystanders i.e. children and others who try to assist the victim or stop the bully in their tracks and diffuse the problem are central to preventing and stemming the tide of bullying.
Stay in the proximity Stay in the proximity – It’s wise to remain in the immediate area until you’re satisfied that the bullying has stopped and the parties have moved on.