Tips for Teachers

Investigating and Dealing with Bullying

Teachers are best advised to take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of bullying behaviour reported by either pupils, staff or parents/guardians. Such incidents are best investigated outside the classroom situation to avoid the public humiliation of the victim or the pupil engaged in bullying behaviour. In any incident of bullying, the teacher should speak separately to the pupils involved, in an attempt to get both sides of the story with due regard to the rights of the pupils concerned.

Here are some tips to investigating and dealing with bullying: • When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour, look for answers to the what, where, when, who and why questions. This should be done calmly, to set an example in dealing effectively with a conflict in a non-aggressive manner. • If a gang is involved, each member should be interviewed individually, before gathering them as a group, and asked for his/her account of what happened to ensure that everyone is clear about what everyone else has said. • If it is concluded that a pupil has been engaged in bullying behaviour, it should be made clear to them how they are in breach of the Code of Behaviour and Discipline and try to get them to see the situation from the victim’s point of view. • Each member of the gang should be helped to handle the possible pressures that often face them from the other members after interview by the teacher. • Teachers who are investigating cases of bullying behaviour should keep a written record of their discussions with those involved. It may also be appropriate or helpful to ask each interviewee to write down their account of the incident. • In cases where it has been determined that bullying behaviour has occurred, meet with the parents/guardians of the two parties involved as appropriate. Explain the actions being taken by the school and the reasons for them, referring them to the school policy. Discuss ways in which they can reinforce or support these actions. • Arrange separate follow-up meetings with the two parties involved with a view to possibly bringing them together at a later date if the victim is ready and agreeable (this can have a therapeutic effect). In certain cases bullying sometimes goes undetected by teachers, read why.