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Bullying in schools – How teachers can help

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Bullying – a word that is unfortunately very well known around the world. Bullying is no longer only a physical thing such as learners being pushed around, punched or beaten to a pulp, it also exists in a verbal form – from name-calling to spreading horrible rumours or ostracizing certain individuals. In the very digital-focused and driven era we live in, cyberbullying has also spread like wildfire where social media platforms have become the most popular playground for bullies.

Teachers need to be at the forefront to assist bullied learners and nip it in the bud to prevent matters from going a step further and having young learners commit suicide because they did not get the help that they needed. The below are pointers that can assist teachers on how to deal with bullying.

    If you as a teacher, encounter bullying in the heat of the moment, make sure you intervene immediately. Stand between the learner and the bully making sure all eye contact is blocked. The last thing you want to do is escalate the tension. Talk to the parties involved separately once they are calm and get straight to the facts.

    Always make sure that bullied learners are handled with care and that you provide them with a safe space where they can freely express themselves. Don’t approach or speak to them in front of other learners and don’t make increased supervision obvious as this can only aggravate matters.

    There is no use in trying to get the bully to apologise immediately in front of bystanders. This will have no effect as this will definitely be insincere and bullying is bound to happen as soon as second break. Consequences for bullying should not be taken lightly and connected to the offence. To expel a learner is a consequence that should be top of the list once the facts are straightened out. No bullied child should feel that they are not being heard or taken seriously.

    A big problem is that bullying is often not taken seriously by teachers and/or parents. As soon as an incident occurs it is a teacher’s responsibility to immediately inform colleagues and both parties’ parents. Once colleagues are informed, bullies will also be more aware that they have everyone’s eyes on them and not just one teacher.

    Schools need to offer learners a safe environment and everyone needs to be constantly reminded that there is a high standard set for behaviour and that consequences are not to be taken lightly. Creating something like an anti-bullying document that both learners and parents need to sight will also instil a sense of seriousness.

Learners who experience bullying in any way, shape or form may feel very overwhelmed or depressed and their anxiety will be through the roof. Always be in tune and make sure that you have regular check-ins with all of your learners in your class. Teachers are not only educators, they are in a sense a second parent and the soundboard between the classroom and home environment. Prevention is always better than cure!

Bullying in schools – How teachers can help


Inge Liebenberg




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