All the classroom lessons, morning announcements and auditorium rallies in the world won't help stop bullying if schools don't also establish clear boundaries of what is -- and what is not -- acceptable behavior. Teachers and administrators must first decide what qualifies as bullying. Often, rules target physical violence and threats, since those are two forms of bullying that teachers can easily define and observe.
Once schools have set their standards and informed students of the rules, the next step is enforcement. Teachers and administrators must respond quickly and consistently, regardless of which child is participating in bullying. Most policies also spell out what will happen in the case of repeat offenders, with each incident resulting in a punishment that is more severe than the previous one.
When talking to children who have broken the rules, it's best to focus on specific incident or behavior rather than the general idea of being a bully. Most children are more likely to admit to a particular act or event, like a fight or a threat, than to call themselves bullies. Sticking to concrete actions and events will also help children understand which behaviors they need to avoid or change.
What can the target of bullying do? Find out next.