High school students too often experience bullying or harassment by their peers. High school is a very difficult time for some students. They may be frequently taunted when moving about the school. They may feel unsafe in the school building. They may also be fearful about being beaten up at any moment.
High school students also often have qualms about discussing their problems with school authorities. So teachers must be proactive and speak to students who are displaying the behavioral and personality changes that often occur if a student is being bullied. Bullying can have serious consequences for students including a drop in grades and suicide.
Advice to Spot a Student who is being Bullied or Harassed
A student who is sobbing profusely in class and refuses to tell you why may be having fears over bullying. Sometimes a student will be told rumors that someone is going to beat them up that day. They don’t know what to do and become overwhelmed. Thus they cry profusely in a way someone typically only does if they are extremely fearful about something.
Call this student out to the hallway for privacy and inquire what is causing their tears. If the student will not tell you alert the office immediately to contact the student’s parent. The school office will further question the student about what is going on and inform the parent that the student seems to be in crisis.
Call the Parent
The teacher should also call the parent to let them know the student was crying in class. Ask the parent if there is anything going on with the student that the teacher should know about. It is crucial to let the parent know immediately that the student appears to need immediate parental attention. Keep a log of any parent contact with the student to document you informed the parent of the crisis.
Speak to the Guidance Department, School Nurse, and School Psychologist
Inform the Guidance Department, School Nurse and School Psychologist in writing and verbally that the student appears to be in crisis. Ask each of these people to meet with the student as soon as possible to talk to them and inquire if there are any crisis issues going on in the student’s life.
Let school officials such as Guidance and the school psychologist know if you have seen any incidences of harassment or bullying of the student around the school.
Also, since students who are being bullied at school often skip school to avoid the harassment, keep close tabs on the student’s overall attendance. Alert the student’s other teachers too that the student is being bullied and to let a parent know immediately if the student misses class. Students sometimes just skip school until someone finally realizes something unusual is going on and notifies the parent. Be proactive and let parents know immediately about class cuts.
Inform the Office if You See the Student Being Harassed
Keep a stack of “harassment" memo forms readily available. Use this form to document any incidences you see of student being harassed around the building, for example while you have lunch duty in the student cafeteria.
Be proactive and let the school know if the student is being taunted or threatened in any way. Keep a copy of any memo you give to the office and place it in the student file so it is easily accessible if you have a parent meeting.
Talk to the Student
Talk to the student regularly to ensure that they know they are able to talk to you at any time if they are in crisis. Be proactive to reach out to the student regularly during class or about the school building to let them know you care that they may be having a difficult time with peer harassment.
Have Periodic Class Lessons about Bullying
Obtain articles and pamphlets about the hazards of teenage bullying and utilize them in class discussions. Let the class discuss the problems of bullying and analyze the reasons why some students harass and bully others.
Provide articles that give students advice about what to do if they are being bullied. These articles may encourage students to speak to someone at school about a bullying problem they are experiencing.
Discussing the topic of bullying in class helps make your classroom a harassment free zone. Make it very clear to students that bullying or harassment is totally unacceptable anywhere in school.
Notify the Police
If you see a student injured during a bullying incident such as a fight in the hallway, contact the police to help the student. Let the police know what you witnessed. Document the incident to ensure the student is able to take action against the attackers.