Bullies in School (They’re Bad)

Mr. Teachbad is taking the unusual step of inviting a guest blogger to do the work today. It is also a bit of a departure in that the sole purpose with this one is to be helpful.

It’s an article by Patrick Del Rosario about addressing the problem of bullying in schools. At the end I have added my own comments about LGBT bullying.

Dealing with a Bully Student: What to Do, How to Cope

by Patrick Del Rosario

Every class has at least one bully, or shall we say at least one potential bully. How far the bully is able to go in antagonizing and controlling those he or she perceives as being weaker depends a lot on how quickly and consistently the teacher is able to respond to the situation.

Statistics show that over 30% of students report that they are or have been bullied at school. As a result of bullying, these students are more likely to become involved in physical fights at school and suffer from depression and other mental health problems. Research has also shown that schools where more bullying is reported also tend to score lower on standardized assessments. Clearly, bullying is a serious problem and can negatively affect those involved, but as an educator, you are probably all too aware of this fact.

A study carried out by the NEA and Johns Hopkins University found that 98% of teachers considered it “their job” to deal with bullying at school. Unfortunately, though, only about 54% of these teachers had received training on bullying prevention. The lack of sufficient training often means that bullying at school is not addressed as effectively as it could be, and additionally, it may not even be recognized as bullying in some cases.

So how do you tackle bullying in the classroom and provide your students with the safe and supportive learning environment that they need in order to succeed? Here are a few tips:

Learn to recognize bullying in all its forms

Bullying comes in many different forms and while most people assume bullying refers to physical abuse, this is not always the case. It can be defined as any behavior that is deliberately hurtful and repeated.

There is physical bullying such as hitting, kicking and intimidating others and there is verbal bullying such as name-calling, racist remarks or other verbal abuse. Bullying can also be indirect and target people emotionally. An example of this type of bullying could be excluding one person from a group or spreading harmful stories about someone to damage their reputation.

Typically, bullies want to be the center of attention in a group and will attempt to establish their power by testing the responses of those they perceive to be weaker than they are. This will usually start out in small ways as the bully tries to test the waters and see if the student will complain or fight back and whether or not the teachers will intervene.

It is important to stay alert and watch for the little indications so that you can take action before the situation escalates. If the bully is shown early on that his or her behavior will not be tolerated and that there are clear consequences for such behavior, they will be less likely to continue.

Don’t rely on the victims to let you know what is going on as these are often children with low self -esteem and a lack of confidence who are desperate to fit in with the group. It is unlikely that they will seek help as they tend to blame themselves and believe that the bullying is their own fault.

Work with others to tackle the problem

If you have identified a bullying problem in your class or school, don’t assume that one chat with the bully will put an end to it. Even if you no longer see it happening in your classroom, there is a big chance that the bullying is continuing elsewhere or in other more subtle ways.

Familiarize yourself with your school and district policies on bullying and think about how you can implement them in your situation. By getting help from the children’s parents, your colleagues, principal and other students, you will be better able to monitor the situation. If more people are aware of the situation it will be easier to contain.

It is also important to speak to the bully’s parents, both to alert them of the situation and to get a feel for the bully’s home situation. Bullies are often children who come from troubling situations at home where they feel helpless. As a result, these children often resort to bullying weaker children to gain a sense of power and control. Once you understand where the bully is coming from, it may be easier for you to take appropriate action and control the situation.

Helping other students to be aware of bullying and the serious consequences it can have is also a good step to take. You could conduct classroom activities around bullying, such as reading books, viewing movies and educational programs and having open discussions about how such situations could be resolved and/or avoided.

Get the victimized student professional help if necessary

Peer bullying can have devastating long-term effects on the victim, both on their academic achievements and their mental health. If a severe bullying problem has continued for a long time and a student appears to be emotionally or psychologically distressed, it is important to seek out appropriate support for them in the way of a school psychologist or counselor. A child psychologist will be better able to assess the situation and recommend an appropriate course of action.

Victims that have low self-esteem and are withdrawn and isolated from the group can also benefit from confidence building programs, either at school with the group or in a different environment.


Patrick Del Rosario works for Open Learning Australia. When not working, Patrick enjoys blogging about career and business. Patrick is also a photography enthusiast and is currently running a photography studio in the Philippines. If you have a blog and would like free content you can find him on online or email him at Patrick (at) oc.edu.au.

Teachbad Commentary

Last week I stumbled upon a Facebook debate about an anti-gay marriage ballot measure in Minnesota. A young college-aged lesbian woman had defended the rights of gays to marry on her aunt’s post supporting the anti-gay marriage measure. In response to the young woman’s rather well-reasoned arguments for legal equality, she was met with this (from much older adults and at least one family member):

Why wasn’t there 2 women or 2 men created at the beginning of time to replenish the earth?…the Creator had a plan and knew what was needed, a man and a woman….where does it stop? Does it stop at being gay? How about the person who loves his dog? Should he be allowed to marry the dog?

We need to speak through God’s words. If you make gay marriages legal, then you need to include marriage to minors, animals, and multiple partners…

Does God create some people to like little children? I am just wondering where the line is on how we are created? Or is it us creating ourselves how we want to be or what makes us feel good?

Spending a lot of time in “church” cannot justify knowing what sin is or is not…share with me where in God’s word it says being gay is ok.

God has certain rules – I am doing my best to go by God’s rules and he’s very clear on the issue of homosexuality.…There are consequences.

I Know several gay/lesbians couples! They are sweet, knowlgeable, and fun to hang out with. I do not judge you or anyone else, that’s God’s job. I love you as my niece and will never stop….It is your choice to be defensive here tonight.….God wants us to be happy while living under His statutes once we become his spiritual children. (Not everyone is His Spiritual Child.)

This is, broadly speaking, the love the sinner, hate the sin approach of fundamentalist Christianity. Or, as I like to call it, the Jesus is making me be an asshole switcheroo.

I guess my point is that these people are raising kids who will think of their LGBT classmates as frightening, threatening and fundamentally just wrong. And some of them will feel good if they can push around the gay kid.

Given the high rates of suicide and depression among LGBT youth, the Holy Ones might want to lay off. If you don’t have anything nice to say, shut the fuck up.

Mr. Teachbad

ps – Good luck to all my homies on the east coast getting ready for Sandy Frankenstorm.


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