I attended a two day seminar on bully prevention. We discussed one of the problems facing many of our schools; “A lack of consistency when disciplining aggressive behavior (bullying).”
We ask our children to stand-up for themselves or speak up against bullying but if there is no real structure of rules or discipline in place, we are setting them up for failure and further pain.
As I mentioned in my last blog there needs to be set rules and consequences. Teachers, school administration, and staff all need to understand these rules and consequences and enforce them as written.
I have presented my bully prevention programs at many schools throughout the United States and Canada. They usually bring me in to kick off or to reinforce their school wide bully free, safe school program. Several of these schools have a positive behavior program or promote buddies instead of bullies plan in place. They pride themselves with having a strong commitment from teachers, students and staff. They may even have students filling their buckets with good behavior rewards. But if a student reports another student for bullying behavior and the aggressor (bully) is let off with just a warning, it sends the message to the whole school that you can get away with disrespectful behavior.
“Consistent enforcement of the code of conduct requires active vigilant supervision and is one of the most effective and economical prevention strategies.” Dorothea Ross
Dr. Dan Olweus wrote, “The single most effective deterrent to bully behavior is adult authority.” If schools really want to put an end to bullying and want their students to speak up against bullying, they need to walk the talk. They need to enforce the rules and consequences at all times. Every student in the school must know that if they break the rules they will be disciplined. Students also need to feel secure in knowing that if they report a student for aggressive (bully) behavior that the principal or teacher will enforce the schools code of conduct or rules without any variation.
Recently I spoke at a school in Lincoln Park, Michigan. I was happy to hear that in addition to the principal and teachers, the cooks and the janitorial staff was also on board to promote a bully free school. All the students know that if they are caught breaking the school and/or cafeteria code of conduct rules they will be disciplined accordingly. One cook told me, “I hear new student being told by old students to never break the rules because YOU WILL GET IN TROUBLE with Mrs. A, she never gives in.”
Never Give In!
If you have rules in place, ENFORCE THEM! Don’t be the one that gives just a warning. Let the students understand that there is no weak link when it comes to disciplining bully behavior. Let the targets of a bully, and the students speaking up against bullying know you appreciate their efforts to make the report, and YOU WON’T LET THEM DOWN.
Copyright Richard Paul 2013