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Anti-Bullying Campaign Tools for Teachers

Research shows that there is some bullying in virtually every Irish secondary school.

Now, however, secondary teachers have access to the tools they need and a template for using them to deal effectively with this problem.

The Anti-Bullying Campaign programme, from Mary Kent and Seán Fallon is a free anti-bullying programme for secondary schools that is available through the www.antibullyingcampaign.ie website. It operates as two strands.

Strand 1 raises awareness among students about the nature and unacceptability of bullying behaviour, so students come to recognise it as different from horseplay or "slagging," reject it as unacceptable and damaging, and are in a position to report it to teachers, given the right conditions and opportunity.

Strand 2 uses a "Reform, not Blame" approach that students see as fair, rather than a punitive approach, to deal with bullying incidents when they arise. This approach gives a "win-win" outcome for both the bullying student and the targeted student, much to the relief of anxious observers of the bullying behaviour. This approach empowers students who know about bullying to report it, knowing they will not be getting anyone in trouble.

This two-strand Anti-Bullying Campaign programme has proved very effective in some schools and the number of schools where it is fully implemented is growing. It's success is based on its recognition that:

  • Bullying is identifiable as deliberate, hurtful behaviour that is repeated in act or in impact, reflecting a power imbalance between the bullying and targeted students. It is the repetition of the hurtful behaviour that makes it clearly identifiable.
  • Only the adults in a school can deal effectively with bullying. But for the adults to do so they have to (a) know about it and (b) know how to deal with it without making matters worse, a worry for all teachers.
  • Teachers in secondary schools cannot know about bullying through their own observation because they move from class to class and so miss the repetition that is the hallmark of bullying behaviour.
  • Students observe most bullying incidents but do not recognise or understand the nature of bullying or the damage it can do or do not want to be targeted themselves so they do not usually report it to teachers.
  • The awareness-raising strand, through a broad range of exercises using worksheets, films with questions, competitions and questionnaires helps students to recognise bullying and, by appealing to their natural sense of justice and what empathy they have, encourages them to reject it as unfair and unacceptable.
  • If the response of a school to bullying behaviour includes punishment, this creates reluctance among students to report it to teachers, to "rat" on fellow students, even if they recognise the bullying and reject it as unacceptable. Punishment provides the justification for the "no ratting" culture among students and this prevents reporting of bullying behaviour.
  • By using a "Reform, not Blame" approach that looks forward, based on a promise sincerely given not to bully in the future, rather than looking backward with blame and condemnation for previous bullying behaviour, perpetrators who "repent" are offered a "clean sheet" with no punishment if they keep their promise. Most bullying students agree to keep this promise.
  • Removing the prospect of punishment overcomes the problem of the "no ratting" culture and students are at last empowered to report bullying behaviour.
  • In this environment students report the bullying, the teachers deal with it (using the "Reform, not Blame" approach) and the bullying is brought to an end with no backlash against the targeted student, the bullying student or the observers (since nobody got in trouble) - a "win-win-win" situation.

This programme is now available to all secondary schools, free of charge from the www.antibullyingcampaign.ie website. Please try it. We believe that once you do and see the difference it makes to the lives of your students you will never want your school to be without it again. Mary Kent & Seán Fallon.

Click here to download a short PowerPoint summarising the programme.

Programme Summary