Preventing bullying

A number of major international reviews and evaluations have sought to identify the most effective approaches, strategies and components for how to prevent bullying in schools.

These reviews confirm the following features are likely to be the most effective in preventing and reducing bullying:

  • A universal, whole-school approach, taking a multi-faceted approach rather than focusing on one single component.
  • An increased awareness of bullying in the school community through assemblies, focus days and student-owned plans and activities.
  • A whole-school proactive policy addressing overt, covert and online bullying.
  • Processes to increase teacher understanding and competencies in effective classroom management and classroom rules and effective behaviour-management methods consistently applied, non-hostile and non-punitive.
  • A positive school environment that provides safety, security and support for students and promotes positive relationships and wellbeing.
  • School-family-community partnerships.

The most effective approach to how to prevent bullying is a proactive and preventive one. Schools have been working in this way for the past two decades, and there has been a small but significant decrease in the frequency of bullying in Northern European, Western European and most Eastern European countries between 1994 and 2006. This is encouraging news for countries all around the world as they continue their efforts to prevent and reduce bullying in schools.

It continues to be important to challenge anti-social beliefs and develop pro-social attitudes. Bullying is significantly different from aggression, violence, harassment and conflict but is strongly related to them. When schools are aware of these differences they can to respond to each more appropriately, develop effective developmental and systemic approaches to preventing them, effective management strategies to deal with them and effective approaches to reducing the harm arising from them. How to prevent bullying is a question that has definitely not been solved, but through research and community support, strategies and the arsenal on how to combat this issue grows every year.

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