But a significant number of students – about 22 percent of those ages 12 to 18 – report being bullied, the most recent data from the Department of Education show.
Mandi Horwitz, a social studies teacher at Chaffey High School in Ontario, California, says she talks with her students in class about how much their words can hurt people – which is something they don’t always realize.
“I think as adults, a lot of times we remember those words that were said to us maybe as teenagers and younger adults,” but teenagers may not think about the lasting effects of what they say, she says.
1. Foster a climate of tolerance and respect: Creating a safe environment for students and educators is an important first step in preventing bullying, according to StopBullying.gov, a government advocacy website.
Horwitz often discusses the power of words with her students and has used historical content, like the Declaration of Independence, to make her point.
“That small document changed the world forever,” she says. “Those small sets of words can do amazing things or they can be used for evil and (students) need to make decisions about what they want their words to represent.”
Educators on Twitter shared similar thoughts.
2. Address hurtful behavior immediately: While teaching an Advanced Placement class, former high school teacher Seth Tripp saw students who knew the answer to every question be bullied for making other students look bad.
When that happened, he would call out the behavior immediately, says Tripp, who started teaching at Doe Creek Middle School in New Palestine, Indiana, this year. He would also follow up with a private conversation with the student who initiated the bullying.
Teachers who responded to U.S. News on Twitter agreed that stopping bullying right away is important.
@alipannoni 1. Work to culture of no bullying. 2. Be direct and vocal when you hear it. Kids have to know you will stand up against it.
— Dan Prouty (@CoachDanProuty) October 15, 2015
Creating an action plan to address these incidents when they happen is a good idea for teachers, writes Becki Cohn-Vargas, director of the anti-bullying group Not In Our School, on teacher-resource website Edutopia.
3. Create strong relationships with students: “Don’t be part of the problem,” says Tripp. He thinks high school teachers often let bullying play out or even become bullies themselves.
Positive teacher-student relationships can help prevent bullying, educators on Twitter say.
And it’s never too early to start bullying prevention.
Horwitz, the California educator, thinks high school teachers should be concerned about bullying because research has shown a relationship between bullying and suicide.
“I think teaching students to advocate for themselves and to be fair and respectful of each other will help build a stronger community and a stronger place for us to want our kids to grow up in.”