How can we prevent bulling behavior

Bullying - not with us ?!

Wolfgang Sander

To person

Prof. Dr. phil., born 1944; Educational scientist at the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster.
Address: Westphalian Wilhelms University, Institute for Educational Science, Georgskommende 33, 48143 Münster.
E-mail:[email protected]

Julia Haarmann

Center for Teacher Training, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster.

Sabine Kühmichel

Institute for Educational Science, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster.

Bullying is a sensitive issue. If a case of bullying becomes known, action should be taken immediately. But what can you do? This module shows which measures are suitable to end or prevent bullying from occurring in the first place.

What to do about bullying - In the acute case

Consolation and support from classmates are essential points in a "class contract". (& copy digitalstock)
Module 5 concludes the survey and at the same time marks the beginning of the active phase. Based on the results of the survey, the aim here is either to process and end an acute case of bullying or to take preventive measures to prevent bullying in one's own class or at the level or school level. In the first case, the teacher himself has to be active and react sensitively. In the second case, it is possible to take preventive action together with the students.

In the acute case

If, for example, based on the results of the class / level survey or on the basis of information from the class, the teaching staff or other people involved, it is found that there are one or more cases of bullying in the class, the important question arises: As a teacher, what can I do to help the victim and to end the bullying permanently? But also with regard to the prevention of bullying, the question of suitable countermeasures arises.

However, well-intentioned actions are not always helpful. You can find a summary in Info 05.02 which measures are well-intentioned but have a negative impact.

However, there are a number of measures that have proven themselves in practice (see the link list of the measures and the information material Info 05.03 to 05.12). No matter what countermeasures are taken, it is important that they are effective in the long term and improve the overall situation in the class.

Clear boundaries create a binding framework for good cooperation. (& copy digitalstock)
The following principles are helpful in achieving this:
  • Those who set clear boundaries and react appropriately to border violations create a binding framework for good cooperation. This can be achieved, for example, by means of binding rules of conduct for dealing with one another (see Info 05.11 and Info 05.12 on the class contract).
  • When resolving conflicts, violence based primarily on power should be avoided.
  • Even if boundaries have to be made clearer in an emergency, personal injuries are to be avoided (communication rules).
  • The earlier you intervene as a teacher, the better it can be prevented that the victim remains in the role of victim in his school career.

Measures at different levels

The countermeasures can be located at different levels. In an acute case of bullying, direct action in class is essential. In addition, measures at school level, on a personal level, as well as measures in dialogue with parents, especially with regard to the prevention of bullying, are helpful.
  1. Action in class
    In an acute case of bullying, serious discussions with both the bully and the victim are primarily necessary (see Info 05.03 and Info 05.04). In addition, there are a number of measures for the class that can also be used preventively, including class rules, positive joint activities in the class, frequent praise and motivation of the students, etc.
  2. Measures at school level
    But activity is not only required in the classes. Measures at school level can also be very effective if they are carried out consistently over a longer period of time and are implemented as permanent institutions in everyday school life. These include, for example, the introduction of social skills training, the establishment of rules and agreements against bullying / violence, class leader lessons, gender-specific measures that relate to the entire student body and, in addition to the aspect of active and acute intervention, also have a preventive character. Overall, these measures aim to ensure that the students develop certain attitudes towards social interaction and are empowered to create conditions that have a de-escalating effect.
    In addition, it makes sense to sensitize the staff to the topic of bullying and to train them in dealing with the problem. A pedagogical day or further training on the topic could be carried out for this purpose. Exchange and dialogue among colleagues is also important.
    A diagnostic questionnaire, e.g. on dealing with one another and the possible presence of bullying (see questionnaire M 01.03), is a good way of uncovering cases of bullying. Measures introduced in the event of acute bullying or for the prevention of bullying should also be checked and evaluated for their effectiveness.
  3. Measures on a personal level
    A trusting teacher-student relationship is essential so that cases of bullying can be dealt with in a solution-oriented manner. As a matter of principle, teachers should take care of their students' problems reliably and confidently; by showing, for example, that they pay attention to compliance with the rules, take victims seriously and try to protect them, and start serious attempts at solutions with the victim, perpetrator (s) and parents. Such measures often overlap with those at the class level, as the class teachers are usually responsible for specific cases in their class. In addition, a positive image of the teacher, e.g. as a person of trust and a real helper, gets around in the school and also shows an alternative to the victims who, for reasons of distance, do not want to turn to their class teacher, for example.
  4. Measures in dialogue with parents
    The student body is the main target group of preventive measures against bullying. (& Copy digitalstock)
    Another important component is working with the parents of those affected or with all parents, because if the parents are informed about the causes of bullying and violence and what specific measures are taken at school level, they can strengthen and support their children in this regard . Parent information evenings or targeted discussion evenings with the parents of victims and perpetrators, which are also possible as group discussions, are conceivable. Exchanges with "like-minded people" in particular can help affected parents to better cope with the situation of their children, be it as victims or perpetrators. It is also about showing parents concrete options for action, what they themselves, but also their children, can do against violent situations.
Overall, the earlier the student body as the main target group is confronted with the measures to prevent violence and bullying, the greater the efficiency of these measures. Therefore, the focus should be placed particularly on the pupils of the lower grades so that they learn socially acceptable behavior at an early stage, which lays the foundation for a school culture free of violence and bullying.