Why Do We Still Not Take Bullying Seriously?

It is time we give bullying the attention it deserves in our classrooms

Bullying can have serious consequences for the health and well-being of children.
Image by Mikhael Nilov from Pexels.com

I try to be a good teacher. Compassionate. Understanding. Encouraging. But I am also human. Sometimes I lose my shit. I have noticed one thing that can make me lose my shit more than others. It is witnessing bullying among my students.

I know why. It is because it tears open a big wound from my own childhood. Every time.

After 16 years of teaching, I conclude that our stance on bullying in society has not improved much.

But it must change. Bullying causes trauma. Whether we like to admit it or not.

Unfortunately, we still shy away from taking our responsibilities to protect our children. And we still make a lot of excuses. Here are some of them.

Bullying Among Children Always Happened. 

It is an argument I still hear from colleagues from time to time. And it is a bullshit argument.

There are a lot of things we thought were normal once. Like putting lead in our paint. Or drinking on the job. There was a time when we did not put on a seatbelt when we drive.

But we don’t do it anymore. Because we LEARNED about the negative consequences. So we decided to do something to stop it.

Maybe the research wasn’t so clear on the negative effects of bullying when I was a kid 30 years ago.

But it sure is now. So we can only use this argument as a lame excuse for not taking our responsibilities as adults.

Nowadays, Bullying Happens Also on Social Media, Not in School

It is true, that social media nowadays plays a pivotal role in bullying. That is hardly surprising, given that bullying is a social phenomenon.

Most kids are active on Social Media. It follows that their social life takes place on Social Media as well. And with it the negative social interactions.

But it is cowardly to assume, that we as adults have no influence. That is pushing the responsibility on our children. Exactly like we do with the previous argument.

It is not the responsibility of the child to teach themselves.

To find out how to develop emotional maturity. Or how to form healthy relationships. That is our task.

There is much we can do. We can teach our children how to act responsibly online and offline.

We can teach them how to communicate well. How to set boundaries. And how to have healthy social interactions.

In fact, this ought to be included in our curriculums by default. If it isn’t then we as parents and teachers better make sure it is.

Bullying Has Serious Consequences

Disclaimer. This statement is from experience. I was bullied as a child. It has left deep wounds.

My self-worth was in shambles well into adulthood. For the most part of my adult life, I was incapable of taking proper care of my health and wellbeing. I felt that I did not deserve it. In fact, I was harming myself.

I finally started therapy more than a year ago. And I suspect I will continue for a while.

My learned behavior was to try and stay invisible. To gobble up my irritation and anger. Until I either exploded or started doing some real irrational shit.

This has cost me relationships and friendships. And it is one of the reasons why I decided to move back to Germany and start over.

We have sound research on the consequences of bullying.

I realize now what I find the saddest part of my own story in this.

I do not recall any teachers or adults intervening. 

It is why I am almost hypervigilant in my own classroom about bullying.

It Is About Building Safe Environments

There is one thing we know from research. Bullying also takes place in a larger social context.

The environment we create in our schools and classroom is a decisive factor.

We need to get better at building safe and inclusive environments in our schools.

And we need to be more upfront. Not only looking at academic achievements but also students’ social and personal development.

In my previous class, I would hold weekly assessments with my students. In these, I always included social and personal development as well. I even set SMART goals together with them.

We have a task to be role models for our children. And yes, our children spend one-third of their days in school. So what we do in our classrooms matters.

Steps We Can Take in Our Schools

  • If your school or class does not have a bullying-prevention strategy, create one. Be sure to also include aspects of Social Media, etc. Below you can find a template I used at my old school.
  • Monitor bullying hot spots around your school. Pay special attention to areas, which are rarely supervised by adults. This includes bathrooms, playgrounds, lounge areas, etc.
  • Try to enlist other school staff as well. It is not uncommon for children to confide in the janitor, bus driver, or cleaning lady. I have seen this many times. All adults play a significant role in children’s lives.
  • Make sure that your classroom is inclusive. Everyone should feel respected. Provide forums to talk openly about issues. This can be in the form of class meetings, or even common meetings.
  • Create ground rules and practice good classroom management.
    Model respectful behavior. Too strict and authoritarian classroom management can be counterproductive. It is a hard balance to strike as a teacher, I know. Be sure to follow your own rules.
  • Discuss with your colleagues how to identify bullying or vulnerable children. Often, there are clear cues in behavior and body language you should pay attention to. This can be a student isolating himself. Or frequently wearing clothes, such as hoodies that can mask their faces or other body parts.
  • Include the parents in the process. Discuss the topic of bullying during parent-teacher conferences. Try and include the parents in working out your bullying-prevention strategy. Offer parents and other staff to learn about bullying prevention. Ally with speakers or mental-health professionals for this.

Template for Your Bullying-Prevention Strategy

Below you can find a template for your bullying prevention strategy. It is a template I used at my school. I translated it into English. It is a word .docx file. However, the formatting should be fine in other document editors as well.

Bullying Prevention Strategy (Word format)



I am from Germany but have spent more than half of my life in Denmark, and other places abroad. I have a background in teaching, both youngsters and adults. I am interested in a wide field of things, which I love to teach and write about. Sustainability, technology, politics, social change, and mental health are just some examples.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow by Email