students looking at mobile phone

This blog post was originally featured in the Children’s Safety Network blog. The full blog post is available here.

High school is a roller coaster for many teens, but for victims of bullying, the school days are filled with anxiety and dread. According the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), nationwide, 20% of students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.

On July 24, 2012, Children’s Safety Network invited Ed Donnelly, Senior Technical Assistance Specialist at Education Development Center, Inc. – the central figure for the Bully Prevention and Intervention Initiative of the Boston Public Schools –  to present the webinar: “Implementing Bullying Prevention in Schools: Boston's Story.”

“Teachers are great,” Donnelly said, addressing the student complaint that reporting bullying is pointless because teachers can’t help them, “Teachers will help out any chance they get – all they need are the tools.”

To help build these tools, Donnelly outlined several steps educators, all staff, and administrators should take to effectively deal with bullying:

  • Act on bullying reports immediately
  • Assure targets (if they are known) that school personnel will follow up on reports, and take appropriate action
  • Do not blame the target
  • Parental involvement prior to bullying issues
  • Support parents’ efforts to teach children good social skills
  • Provide early intervention
  • Balance discipline with behavioral supports
  • Equip teachers and staff with prevention and intervention skills

In addition to empowering teachers with the skills to effectively address bullying in their schools, Donnelly argues for the need for a school climate change“The issue becomes creating the culture and climate in schools where [bullying is] just not accepted,” Donnelly said. “We don’t have to worry about the victim jumping up and saying ‘Don’t do that to me!’ We should have kids that are around there – the bystanders – they’re the ones who jump up and say ‘Hey that’s not cool do to that, leave the kid alone.’”

Additional Resources from Children’s Safety Network:

Implementing Bullying Prevention in Schools: Boston's Story

Summary of Findings: Bulling Prevention Environmental Scan

Bullying Prevention Resources Guide

Preventing Bullying: The Role of Public Health and Safety Professionals