Test Your Conversation Skills: How to Stop Bullying
October is always an eventful time for educators. Observances such as Bullying Prevention Month and LGBT History Month coincide with the busy back-to-school season, serving as a reminder of the role that educators play in providing support for students who may be dealing with incidents of bullying.
Most educators recognize that bullying is a significant issue within their school community. Somewhere between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 students say they have been bullied at school. Over 70% of students say they have seen bullying in their schools, and the same percentage of school staff report having seen bullying themselves. The prevalence of these issues is even more striking for LGBTQ students, who are 2-3 times more likely to be threatened or assaulted compared to their peers.
These incidents of bullying – which can range from verbal, social, and physical harassment to cyberbullying and online harassment – have a negative impact on students’ mental health, hinder feelings of inclusion, and lead to a learning environment that is marred by discrimination. Learning how to stop bullying is an essential component of improving school climate and school safety, and can have a direct effect on attendance, academic success, and likelihood to graduate
Despite recognizing the importance of bullying prevention, however, many educators do not feel prepared to respond when an incident of bullying occurs. There is a growing need to train school staff to recognize an incident of bullying, address it when it happens, and speak with victims of bullying in a way that makes them feel safe and supported.
Addressing an Incident of Bullying in The Classroom
The video clip above highlights one possible situation in which bullying can occur within a school environment: Ms. Dixon, an eighth-grade science teacher, is helping her class study for a statewide exam when one of her students, Victoria, interjects and uses biased language against another, Gabriel.
If you were in Ms. Dixon’s position, how would you respond to this incident? Would you know how to keep the class engaged and focused, while still drawing a clear line for acceptable classroom behavior? Would you feel prepared to address Victoria’s behavior and reinforce your classroom expectations?
This video excerpt is one of three different situations included in Building Respect: Bullying Prevention in Schools, an interactive professional development simulation that empowers educators to practice conversation techniques to address biased language in the classroom, reach out when they suspect signs of bullying, and reinforce staff responsibilities in reporting bullying behavior. As part of the learning experience, users are able to take on the role of Ms. Dixon and explore different techniques to respond to the classroom incident.
Issues of harassment, exclusion, and discrimination are all too common within school communities, with scenaros such as Victoria’s use of biased language occurring in districts across the country every day. When educators are not adequately prepared to react and respond to such incidents, students like Gabriel are left without the support they need. Consequently, targeted students often deal with negative repercussions such as poor academic performance, lack of engagement, and a decline in school attendance.
By engaging with these types of bullying situations within a virtual environment, Building Respect helps educators develop the necessary skills and knowledge to intervene when such incidents occur in real life. Users are free to learn at their own pace and in their own safe space. They can explore different approaches and see what works best in different scenarios. They have room to make the errors that they should not risk in the real world. Throughout, a virtual coach provides feedback on their decisions and offers helpful suggestions for research-proven conversational methods they can employ.
In an actual classroom, Ms. Dixon has only one chance to respond to Victoria’s use of biased language toward Gabriel. In the Building Respect: Bullying Prevention in Schools simulation, though, users can keep on trying until they feel prepared to carry their knowledge and skills into real life.
Curious to test how prepared you are to respond to bullying incidents? Access a free demo here to try for yourself.
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