Your student may be embarrassed or nervous to open up, so consider the best time and space to have the conversation. When possible, it's best to talk soon after the incident occurred to help relieve emotional distress.
Eliminate distractions to ensure your student knows you are taking them seriously and actively listening. Your reaction can help your student gauge their emotions. Do your best to stay calm as you discuss the situation. Listen without interrupting or jumping to conclusions.
Here’s additional guidance on how to remain supportive and nonjudgmental:
In some cases, you'll need to have separate conversations with everyone involved. First, speak to the student being bullied and then any witnesses before talking to the person (or group of people) accused of bullying. If a group of people is involved in the bullying, try to prevent them from talking to one another during the investigation.
If the student is being physically threatened, let them know that you’ll do everything you can to ensure their safety. Contact the appropriate authorities in the school and escalate the situation immediately. If your student is very upset or shows signs of self-injury, don’t leave them alone. Get help immediately.
Decide what to do next based on your conversations. Offer support and guidance, even if you and your student agree that the situation isn’t serious enough to be escalated. If the incident warrants reporting, explain the school policies and help them report the situation accordingly. Where possible, ask staff members, such as social workers, psychologists or the principal, to support you and your students.
Conflict resolution and peer mediation are not appropriate responses to bullying situations. Bullying involves an imbalance of power and is a form of abuse. Conflict resolution and peer mediation are appropriate when both parties share responsibility which is not the case for bullying behavior.
Check in with your students to see how they’re doing in the days and weeks that follow. Ask if the situation has been resolved and if they feel comfortable at school.
Provide ongoing support but don't take it all on yourself. Keep other staff members or experts engaged in helping you handle the incident.