During the week of inservice, I was very thankful for my principal’s sensitivity to our time and for not filling the week with frivolous meetings. We did have one important training meeting, however. All faculty at my school underwent training for a new program called the Olweus Bully Prevention Program.
The training was very eye-opening regarding the frequency and types of bullying that high school students experience. The program included a survey given to all students at my school last spring. To see the responses from actual students made the national statistics become very real. Because of my profession and passion, one of the statistics that stood out to me was that students with disabilities are at a greater risk of being a victim of bullying. As a teacher one of the most painful statistics to read was that only 26.7 percent of girls and 34.2 percent of boys thought that teachers “often” or “almost always” try to stop bullying.*
I have several goals for this school year, but at the Olweus training I made one more goal for the year. If nothing else, I want my students to know that my classroom will be a bully-free zone and that any bullying behaviors that are reported to me will be dealt with appropriately. I think in the past, I just assumed that of course my students know I would deal with bullying situations if they were reported to me, but this year my students will know that they have an anti-bullying advocate every time they come to my room.
How will they know they have an anti-bullying advocate? I’m glad you asked. Every day they will see the school-wide anti-bullying rules posted in my room in addition to my classroom rules. They will also hear several anti-bullying lessons presented throughout the school year.
But lessons and posters aside, I think the biggest thing I can do to prevent bullying is win the trust of my students by showing a genuine interest in the things that happen to them outside my room. I can’t make the world a sterile environment for them, but I can make my room a safe haven for hurting young people.
*These statistics come from the survey conducted at Dorman High School by the Olweus Bully Prevention Program and do not reflect national statistics.