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Instructional Methods | Social Emotional Learning | January 22, 2024

5 Ways to Prevent Bullying in School

Recent statistics show that one in three kids is bullied at school. What can you do to help prevent bullying and help manage its effects? In this article, we’ll share five ways to prevent bullying in your classroom today.

Addressing Bullying at School

Recent statistics show that one in three kids is bullied at school. We can define bullying as the act of seeking to harm, intimidate, or coerce someone who is often perceived as vulnerable. According to, bullying is “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.” Bullying means that a person is intentionally causing pain to another person, whether physically, emotionally, or electronically. Bullying may be verbal, physical, or social. Beyond the one in three kids bullied at school, bullying activities committed in the community, including cyberbullying, increase the numbers drastically.

If you're like me, you're wondering what can be done in the classroom to help prevent bullying and help manage its effects. Following are five ways to prevent bullying in your classroom, starting today.

Create Rules

Start by creating classroom rules that address bullying. Let your students help create the rules and place them on a poster or bulletin board. Use positive language. For example, "We will accept all our classmates, even those who are different than us," rather than, "We will not make fun of people." It is not a bad idea to recite the rules as a class at the start of the day. Students must know they will be treated with respect by you and that they are expected to treat others the same.

Stick to the Rules

Once you’ve set the rules, stick to them. Your students can help determine the consequences of breaking the rules. Ultimately, it is up to you to enforce them, though. This means you must be alert and observant, and you must listen to those who bring their concerns to you. If someone breaks the rules, he or she should be addressed individually. Your workday is full, and you are busy from when the first bell rings until the kids go home. Your students must know you are never too busy to hear their concerns and to keep them safe, though. After all, if they do not feel safe, all your great teaching will be for naught.

Listen to Concerns

Allow students to share their concerns. You must let students know that you will listen to their concerns and that you will take action. On an informal level, students should be allowed to come to you at lunch, before and after school, or even during the day if needed. On a more formal level, you can host a brown-bag lunch meeting once a week or every other week, letting students use this time to share concerns and to brainstorm ways to handle them. You can share examples of positive behaviors you witnessed and negative ones you observed or heard about. Allow students to role-play how they might have handled the situations.


Promote Caring

Promote support of others and acts of caring. You can incorporate all sorts of activities into the classroom. In addition to the brown-bag lunches, you can have a compliment circle. In this activity, the entire class sits in a circle. Students take turns giving other students compliments, and recognizing others for positive behavior and good deeds. You might find you need to start the compliments. It's likely the same kids are complemented each meeting, so you will want to find a way to ensure all kids are complimented every couple of circles. Perhaps you pull sticks with their names on them, or you can toss a softball to children, and invite compliments for them. Each time a child is complimented, the ball returns to you to toss again.

Another simple activity is to have a "Caught Being Kind" bulletin board in the classroom. As you see or learn of students doing random acts of kindness, you can jot this down on a notecard and post the card on the board. Students can be encouraged to write these acts on cards and hand them to you, as well. Keep a stack of note cards handy in the classroom, since being kind is contagious.

Incorporate Media Resources

Show a film and host a discussion. There are all sorts of movies and TV shows that can be shared in the classroom, depending on your students' ages (and as long as you have the appropriate permission). In honor of Bullying Prevention Month, Netflix has highlighted some great movies to stream. Some to consider: Hercules, Billy Elliot, Cyberbully, and The War. here are some great clips you can find on YouTube, as well. Check out He's a Bully, Charlie Brown. Some other movies that can be good conversation starters include How to Eat Fried Worms, Karate Kid, and Mean Girls. Of course, you will want to know your audience. With older kids (definitely not younger than middle school), you might consider showing Bully (2011).

Resources abound online. You can find all sorts of support and activities for your classroom by visiting various sites. Some I recommend include,,, and Check out for more info on the film and to review all sorts of resources, including tools for students, parents, and educators.

With bullying so pervasive in schools, it’s critical that teachers and adults know the warning signs and ways to prevent bullying in the classroom. By setting and sticking to clear classroom rules, listening to student concerns, and creating a culture of caring, teachers can help to prevent bullying and make learning spaces safer for all students.



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Dona Herweck Rice, Ph.D., Counselor

Dona Herweck Rice holds a doctor of psychology degree and is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a licensed professional clinical counselor, and a national certified counselor. She has worked with children and families for the past 30 years as a professional and through PTA, scouts, and as a volunteer in elementary classrooms. She has been a college professor for the past 15 years, teaching at various universities, including the Cal State system, the University of Phoenix, and the...

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