Bullying is a notoriously difficult situation to handle for teachers, however it is an important problem that needs to be stamped out wherever it occurs.
We’re running a series of blogs focusing on bullying and how it can affect all parties involved: this week we’re focusing on how bullying can affect teachers, and how you can deal with the issue in the classroom to help your students build resilience and choose kindness.
What is bullying?
Bullying can take many different forms and with the continued digitisation of our society, there may be forms of bullying that are new or which you do not know about.
Prejudice can take many forms, and whether it is a one-off instance or a repeated series of events, bullying must be recognised and eradicated.
Bullying may be homophobic (based on sexual orientation), sexist (undermining you for being of the opposite sex), and racist (based on your skin colour and background).
What form can it take?
Bullying traditionally takes the form of physical abuse, name-calling, and consistent taunting. However, with so many children having access to a computer or smartphone nowadays, bullying often continues outside the classroom, online.
How should I react if a student confides in me?
It is likely that it has taken a huge amount of courage for a student to confide in you. Listen, and try to understand what they are communicating to you.
Avoid telling a student to “get over it” or ignore their situation. Bullying should be taken extremely seriously as it harms those who are bullied, the bully themselves, and can contribute to a very negative atmosphere in the classroom, further hampering the progress of the entire class.
Your school will have an anti-bullying policy in place which you have no doubt familiarised yourself with already. This should be freely accessible and up to date. If you do not have regular opportunities to review your anti-bullying policy, we would recommend implementing these ASAP.
You should aim to generate a culture where it is easy to talk about these issues as they arise to prevent them rumbling on unnoticed. Bullying is very rarely a one-on-one situation and can draw other people into conflict if nothing is done to counter it.
What if I don’t teach a full class?
If you’re a peripatetic music teacher, you may only deal with students on a one-to-one basis once a week. You may not be given the opportunity to witness any bullying as you do not interact with students in groups, or may be less aware of day to day relationships as you do not work fulltime at the school at which you are teaching.
Nevertheless, it’s important that you recognise the signs of being bullied in your students, and the toll it can take on them.
We've compiled a list of symptoms of depression that may help you identify students who are struggling with their mental health.
- Becoming quiet and withdrawn.
- A loss of interest and enthusiasm in the things that they enjoy doing and talking about.
- A lack of concentration and competence in what they are doing.
- Looking tired, and moving or talking slower than usual.
- Being tearful or emotional for little or no reason.
- Neglecting their appearance or personal hygiene
- Low confidence and self-esteem – constantly putting themselves down.
- Having a hopeless attitude or being negative about the future.
For a more detailed description of the symptoms you can visit the NHS website.
If you’d like to learn more about how to deal with bullying in your school or workplace, then head to the websites below to explore further free resources that have helped to inform our blog.
Our next blog will focus on how parents can help if their child is involved in bullying at school.