What to do if you encounter bullying

Whether based on prejudice about someone’s race, religion, ethnicity or sexuality or just because a kid is different, bullying has consequences for both victims and bullies.

So what should you do if you encounter students being bullied? Fortunately, there are resources available and known strategies that work to help educators combat the problem.

A variety of organizations offer educational resources, lesson plans, videos and more for educators (see below for some of the best they have to offer).

There is one thing everyone can do every day to combat bullying and that is to be a visible ally for kids who are targeted. That means being explicit in our support for who they are, no matter who they are — letting them know that there is nothing wrong with being gay or Muslim or black or Latino or Asian; that there’s nothing wrong with walking with a limp or speaking with an accent or stutter; that no one deserves to be picked on because they are different in some way.

Too often youths are isolated and think that they have nowhere to turn. Publicity around the fall 2010 suicides by LGBT students make clear that this population is at special risk; they may have no adults in their lives who support them. It’s important to make sure that all students know that they do have someone to turn to.

HELPFUL RESOURCES

Teaching Tolerance — Resources, classroom activities, professional development and more, plus a blog of educators’ experiences. Website:  www.tolerance.org.

No Name Calling Week — Jan. 18-24, 2011 (and every year around that time), just what it sounds like; check out especially the resources page, which has lesson plans for all grades and additional resources. Website: www.nonamecallingweek.org.

Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network — A ton of very practical resources from an organization dedicated to fighting the epidemic of anti-gay bullying; check out the safe space kit. Website: www.glsen.org.

Anti-Defamation League — Its curriculum page has a wealth of anti-bias lesson plans, including some specifically on bullying. Website: www.adl.org/education/curriculum_connections.