Bullying programs and communication has raised awareness of the behaviors associated with bullying and the detrimental impact it has on victims. Despite widespread education on the subject, bullying continues to be a serious problem in schools.
Bullying can be found in every grade level and across the socio-economic landscape. In the grades where it is most prevalent — third and fourth grades — as many as 22 percent of students report being the focus of bullying two to three times a month.
As schools continue to work to stomp out bullying, staff and school administrators need access to tools that can help them identify the problem, the perpetrators, and the victims. These tools must uncover changes in behavior commonly related to bullying, as well as facilitate the actions required to help students.
A Student Information System (SIS) can be invaluable when looking to reduce or eliminate bullying. A well-designed SIS collects and distributes data, simplifying the process of finding bullies and victims and getting them the help they need, while also proactively preventing these behaviors from the start.
Using a SIS to Communicate Behaviors
As adults, we understand what constitutes bullying behaviors and the consequences of verbal and physical abuse on children. Students, however, don’t completely understand the potential results of their actions, nor do they always know what behaviors are related to the problem.
A proactive strategy that schools can use to stomp out bullying is to clearly communicate the behavioral expectations for students – to both children and their parents. The benefits of this communication are two-fold.
First, students are made aware of exactly what is expected of them, and which behaviors sit outside of what’s allowed. Second, parents are aware of what behaviors are and are not allowed and can partner with the school in educating their children and creating consequences at home for inappropriate actions.
While schools have the attention of students every day, communicating with parents can be more of an issue. A SIS can help ensure parents are aware of school policies and any changes or updates that might occur during the year, keeping parents up to date without entrusting important messages to be relayed by the student.
Once clear expectations have been set around behavior and schools are certain that children and parents have been notified, it becomes easier to identify inappropriate actions, track them, and communicate to students and families exactly what has occurred that is unacceptable. This offers administrators the opportunity to see early warning signs and stomp out bullying before it even begins.
Identification of Issues with SIS Data
As mentioned above, a SIS helps to communicate behavior expectations to the entire school community. The next step to addressing bullying is to identify problem behaviors that exist within the current population.
Administrators frequently know when there is a problem, but may not have visibility into who is initiating physical or emotional abuse on their peers, or who are being targeted by these bullies. Data from a SIS can point to trends in student actions that are typical of bullies and victims.
Key traits that signal abuse can be tracked and analyzed. Students who have had repeated interventions and referrals to the office for things like aggressive behavior or acting out as a result of high levels of frustration may be on the path to becoming a bully.
For victims, attendance can be a red flag. Students who are the focus of bullies are likely to skip school in the hopes of avoiding their tormentors. Both of these are traits that can be tracked and monitored in an SIS.
Initiating Services for Victims and Bullies with a SIS
It is impossible for a school or district to stomp out bullying if they can’t identify victims and tormentors. But once identified, these students need intervention and support to return to their place as productive members of the school community. Identification and action are two sides of the same coin – an effective anti-bullying plan can’t have one without the other.
Victims of bullying frequently experience chronic absenteeism and poor performance. Once identified, schools can begin to work with the child to get them additional educational resources to keep up academically while also using attendance tracking and reporting to watch for continued problems with attendance.
What is sometimes missed in these situations is additional support for the bullies. These children may be experiencing problems at home or in the community that is driving their aggressive behavior. School counselors and support staff have the opportunity to return a student to more positive actions and behaviors, once they are alerted to the need.
The key to addressing the needs of both types of students is to refer them for additional support and services as early as possible. While this typically relies on teachers and administrators being aware of negative trends, automated referrals help ensure consistency in how students are treated and get them help as soon as a problem is identified.
Bullying can have a detrimental effect on students, parents, and the entire community. If pervasive, it can leave a negative impression with the community on how the district is managed. Schools and districts need tools to help them communicate, track, support students and their behavior, and stomp out bullying. An SIS and related technology tools provide schools with access to the collection and sharing of this data. Administrators and staff can then proactively address issues and offer support for both victims and bullies, setting students back on a productive and positive path.
ScholarChip is an all-in-one platform solution that helps schools proactively address student behavioral challenges, safety, and chronic absenteeism to prevent school violence. To learn more about the many solutions ScholarChip provides, or to get free recommendations, feel free to request a 1-on-1 call with one of our school violence prevention experts.