Establishing connections with kids is mandatory to stop the bullying in our schools. Building meaningful relationships will help students to share and discuss the entire problem being faced by him/her.
Building a Circle of Friends for a student with ASD, to build supportive, friendly relationships is a must. In this way, you as a teacher can start to solve the problem at school. It will also help you to show parents how you are trying to minimise bullying.
We need to teach students to recognise and understand bullying in our schools. A student might have unexplained bruises, cuts and scratches, or they might be hungry because the bully stole their lunch.
A right solution is to set up a meeting with parents, head of the department, and the welfare coordinator. At the meeting, it’s good to discuss the issues that are affecting the student. By working with others, you can identify the time, activities, places and even people that affect the student and how to cope with them.
Try to get programs into your school that promote awareness of students on the spectrum as 63% of students bullied in schools are on the autism spectrum. Then, develop a teaching programme to help students on the spectrum, develop play and social skills. Teach all your students social skills to minimise the bullying in our schools.
Spend time with your targeted student. If there are times or areas where bullying is more likely to occur, get together with others and develop a plan for adult supervision. Breaks, movement in between lessons, bus rides or particular lessons, that are more problematic. Make a plan and work with others on how to implement it; To proactively prevent bullying in schools.
At times, detecting bullying in our schools is very difficult. A bully may harass a student by manipulating him to do things he does not want to do. The bully may tell the student “I won’t be your friend anymore unless you steal this video game”. So, teach students to know the difference between a friend and a bully. Don’t just leave it to chance and expect that every student will understand.
A student might seem unusually anxious, nervous, upset, unhappy, down, angry, withdrawn and secretive. Try to remind a concerned parent that these signs may not necessarily mean that their child was bullied. They could be signs of other issues like depression and withdrawal. If you and the parent/s are more concerned, consult a psychiatrist or practitioner.
Cyber bullying is a relatively recent phenomenon. Research has found that students who are victims of cyber bullying in our schools were also victims of school bullying. Both types of victims tended to exhibit low levels of popularity and low self-esteem. Some victims also become bully-victims, usually in response to being bullied as a way of “fighting back” or “letting off steam”.
A teacher named Jamie read a post about a guy called Dan who was bullied in primary school. She was so struck by the story that she decided to do something in her class about it the very next day.
Jamie found a creative way to explain the damage of bullying to her students. She stopped by the shops and bought a couple of apples to take to school. Both apples were identical.
In the morning circle, Jamie explained to the class that they were going to try something different and showed them the two apples asking them to list any differences. There were none!
Jamie held up one of the apples and said, “Gross. This apple looks disgusting” and dropped it on the floor. Jamie asked the students to join in and say more bad things about the apple. The kids were a bit shocked but well the teacher said to do it, so they joined in.
They dropped the apple every time each one said something “I hate your skin”, “You must have worms inside you” and “You’re an ugly colour of red”. By the time the apple had gone round everyone, it didn’t look nice! Jamie then asked the kids to list the differences a second time. But there was no difference. Not on the outside that you could see.
Jamie asked if anyone wanted a piece of apple. Of course, everyone wanted a bit. Jamie cut the apples in half and asked the kids to look at the apples. On the inside, the bullied apple was bruised and mushy. In contrast, the ok apple looked nice and juicy to eat. The kids didn’t want the bullied apple.
Jamie went on to explain “But didn’t we all make the apple look this way?! We did this, so why shouldn’t we eat it?” They all became very quiet. Jamie went on to explain how this is the way we are with each other. “We have to stop dropping each other”.
The kids got it! Different ones came up and hugged her later to tell her that they were so happy that a teacher “got it”.
She posted about the bullying lesson on facebook and it went viral. Obviously we all want solutions.
Bullying in our schools is still around, students are hurting, and some even turn to violence. So, whenever I have a new primary class, at some point, an incident happens; just the smallest murmur of bullying. I stop and tell my story from primary school. Only the funny parts that will make them laugh.
“Hey, half-caste! Get back to where you came from!” I ran as fast as I could to get away, with Linda, the school bully and her gang chasing me around the schoolyard, till the bell rang. This went on for years.
I tried to tell my dad about the bullying but he would say, ‘Sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never hurt you. He was wrong!
Finally, one day something exploded inside of me. Instead of running away, I turned around and put out my arm to protect myself and Linda ran smack into my fist. Wham! Blood and teeth went everywhere.
“We’re gonna tell Mrs A, what you did. You’re gonna be in so much trouble.” They went away with Linda crying and holding her bloodied mouth. I did get a chat with the principal but the school bully stopped chasing me.
Of course it’s not right to hit back but I don’t like to see anyone being bullied so let’s work together to protect each other and those around us. If you see anything like bullying or are being bullied do come and talk with me or write me a note anonymously.
Students get it, and they like it when their teachers understand too.
Let’s give some creative thought, to the way we approach all our students. Choose a topic and create a lesson that will help your students understand the pain, that will help them change their behaviour.