Bullying prevention will focus on bystanders next school year

District 51 is hoping to get more reports of bullying from its students next year.

That’s not because the district expects more students to taunt each other, but because it will spend the year encouraging students to report bullying when they see it happen.

“Our focus from a district standpoint will be bystanders,” District 51 Prevention Coordinator Cathy Haller said.

Haller said the district and a new community group devoted to bully-proofing schools will conduct focus groups this spring with diverse groups of students to see what it would take to get them to buy in to a reporting system and “go from bystanders to up-standers.”

Teachers, counselors and administrators involved in the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports groups, which encourage positive student behavior at each school, will train colleagues to encourage students to report any bullying they see.

They’ll also be trained how to help students say no to bullying instead of watching it happen or encouraging it by laughing at the behavior or joining in with taunts.

Members of District 51 high school and middle school Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports teams participated in an all-day anti-bullying training Monday. Elementary school teams will be trained today.

Educators said at Monday’s training that getting students to stop bullying is difficult, but some things have been working.

Keeping communication open with parents is important, according to Redlands Middle School Counselor Alanna Bell. Teachers at her school also have seen bullies improve their behavior and academic prowess after being paired on class projects with students who encourage good behavior.

Rachel Smith, a resource teacher at Mount Garfield Middle School, said the best way to make sure bullying is reported is to foster good teacher-student relationships.

She said any techniques used next year to get kids to report bullying will have to use input from students.

“If it’s adult-imposed, there’s less buy-in,” she said.


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