My student is bullying others

As a teacher, dealing with bullying means assisting all students involved in the situation. Learn how to be proactive and address the situation if one of your students has been accused of bullying.

Have an open, nonjudgmental conversation.

Kids that bully do so for a variety of reasons. To get a better understanding of the student's motive or rationale, remain present and listen with compassion. Try not to put words into your student’s mouth or jump to conclusions.

A calm and comfortable setting can make a difference in getting your student to open up. Prepare for the conversation to try to avoid making your student feel judged. Do not use harsh or accusatory language. Let your student know that you're there for them and you want to help find a resolution to the problem.

Investigate the incident.

Do some digging so that you can determine the best course of action. Find out exactly what happened, how long the bullying has been happening and if anything has happened since it was reported.

Interview the people involved by first talking to the person who was bullied, then any witnesses and finally the person (or group of people) accused of bullying. If a group of students was involved in the bullying, make sure they're not able to talk with one another during the investigation.

Address urgent situations.

If there's any reason to believe that a student is in danger, report the incident immediately to an authority figure at your school. Make sure the student who was bullied, the person who bullied and any bystanders are safe until the situation has been handled by the authorities. If your student is very upset or shows signs of self-injury, don’t leave them alone. Get help immediately.

Make a plan.

Based on what you learned, decide on next steps. Even if you determine that the incident doesn't require reporting, work with your student on the best way to apologize. If the incident requires reporting, do whatever is necessary to ensure all parties are safe. Where possible, ask staff members, such as social workers, psychologists or the principal, to support you and your students.

Communicate your school’s policies and remind your student that bullying behavior of any kind is unacceptable and there may be consequences. Involve parents according to your school’s policy.

Follow up.

Provide ongoing support but don't take it all on yourself. Keep other staff members or experts engaged in helping you handle the incident.

Check in with your students a few days, a week and even a month after the situation is reported to see how they’re doing and ask them:

  • Has the situation been resolved?
  • Has there been any retaliation?
  • Do they feel comfortable at school?
  • How is their relationship with the other student(s) involved?

Make sure your student has a support network. They may benefit from meeting with a school counselor. It may also be helpful to follow up with the student’s parents.

Find out if there are more ways to help like finding opportunities in the community, such as after-school programs or behavioral-health events focused on youth.

Share anti-bullying lessons or resources and promote positive relationships. Consider teaching soft skills, like self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship-building and responsible decision-making skills.