26 May 2018

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stop bullying in schools

Fatima Zahid

For decades, people have argued that bullying is just a part of growing up, that parent and educators shouldn’t worry too much about kids harassing other kids. But a growing body of research shows that schools can prevent bullying and ensure that all kids go to school each day without fear of being physically hurt or socially targeted.

The research on bullying builds on a substantial body of evidence around the importance of helping students develop social-emotional skills, and studies increasingly shows just how important these abilities are for a child’s success. This is true for bullying and in many other aspects of life. Indeed, many scholars now believe that showing empathy for others is just important as learning algebra. But helping students develop social-emotional skills can be challenging for some schools. For one, school leaders are under significant pressure to improve academic progress, and so many schools neglect the social and emotional side of learning. Plus, social-emotional skills may seem a little vague, and so educators do not get much guidance on what to teach or even how to teach it.

Schools should focus on setting clear expectations for behavior around daily school interactions, and staffs provide help to students who have trouble following the norms around everything from safety to teasing. This means that efforts are put in place to stop bullying before it even starts, catching it early instead of being allowed to fester.

Provide tailored support for the both victims and bullies in each school. Specifically, the victims and bullies both get small group or individual counseling to develop stronger social-emotional skills and develop a richer sense of empathy, and alternative methods of coping with challenges.

Of course, there’s no way to address every form of bullying in school. Because technology is so widespread, lots of bullying incidents happen privately on smart phones, far away from adults, and while this program might help even with technology, it simply can’t address every issue.

But what’s clear is that bullying can be stopped. By learning better social-emotional skills and norms, students are far kinder to each other. In other words, when we understand and care about bullying, we begin to understand that there are actually strategies to stop bullying.

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