Reducing teen bullying in schools is crucial when it comes to maintaining a healthy learning environment. In a review of U.S. student behaviors, the National Center for Education Statistics found that more than 8.1 million teens reported being bullied over the course of a school year. This figure includes victimization from an array of anti-social actions such as name calling, spreading rumors, physical aggression, exclusion and destroying property. While putting an end to teen bullying isn't easy, through programs, teaching techniques and practice, you can help to affect positive change.
Understand, and help your teen and her peers to recognize, who and what a bully is. The picture of a muscle-covered teen boy who physical threatens the smaller kids is more of a stereotype than a truth at many high schools. In reality, bullies include a variety of types of teens. Talk to your child or her school group about how to spot a bully. Boys, girls, assertive, aggressive or reserved teens all have equal potential to turn into bullies. While bullies may differ when it comes to gender, appearance or even outward personality, they all feel the need to dominate other people. Bullying doesn't always include physical aggression -- although it can -- and may feature more subtle tactics such as adding peer pressure or quietly manipulating another person.
Consult the school's policies on bullying. Review the guidelines with your teen. Take note of any gaps that you may want to discuss with school staff. For example, if your teen's school has discipline policies for physical bullying but not for cyber-bullying, advocate for a change that includes web-based aggression.
Report bullying behaviors. If you are at the school for parent activities, watch for bullying and notify the staff. Communicate with you child and let her know what to do if she is bullied or witnesses these behaviors. Tell her who to talk to and what information to give. For example, instruct her to speak with a trusted teacher or the school counselor and to provide details such as time, place and what was said or done.
Start a school-wide campaign to prevent bullying. Enlist the help of other teens to make anti-bullying posters or hand out fliers. Add a section in the school newspaper or write a column on bullying for the school's e-newsletter. Hold an anti-bullying lecture -- invite a noteworthy bullying, educational or child development expert -- to give the students, faculty and families the facts.
Keep the lines of communication open. Talk to your teen and make it easy for her to talk to you. Create a similar environment in the school. Designate a staff member, such as the school counselor, as someone to whom the kids can talk.
Talk to your teen and her peers about the perils of ignoring bullying. In order to decrease these behaviors in the school environment, kids need to speak up. Watching someone bullying another student and keeping mum won't do anything to solve the problem.