What Every School Administrator Should Know About Bullying
School administrators are pivotal players in bullying prevention and intervention.
Bullying Defined: Bullying is a form of negative and hurtful behavior that is distinguished by an imbalance of power. The child who bullies may be stronger, more popular or hold some type of power over the child who is bullied. This power imbalance could also be represented by a group of students targeting one student.
Bullying behaviors may violate civil, civil rights or criminal laws, depending on the type and extent of the activities. Educators and school administrators have a legal mandate to keep students safe at school. They are mandated to take steps to ensure that the school environment is free of harassment. Further, schools are obligated to protect students from third-party harms, such as mistreatment of student(s) by other student(s). Federal legislation outlines schools’ duty to protect students from harassment.
What is the Administrator's Role in Building-Level Bullying Prevention and Intervention?
1. Set the tone for your building/district-Principals can support a school’s bullying prevention efforts by articulating their support for bullying prevention, identifying prevention strategies that emphasize bystander responsiveness and serving as an active participant on school climate leadership teams. Principals are also responsible for overseeing investigation processes, ensuring bullying policies are consistently applied and that students are free from harassment and retaliation.
2. Ensure Bullying Prevention Policies are understood, communicated and sufficiently address all aspects of prevention and intervention-A policy will only be effective when the content sufficiently protects students; it is understood by all stakeholders (administration, faculty, staff, parents and students); and it establishes clearly defined roles for all stakeholders.
3. Appoint a compliance coordinator to receive complaints of bullying and harassment.
4. Use appropriate data to guide decision-making.
5. Provide ongoing professional development-It is important that schools provide ongoing training and staff development in methods and programs that promote a safe and caring learning environment, prevent anti-social behaviors and support student engagement.