Bullying and harassment in schools has become and ever increasing and pervasive problem throughout the educational system. As a high school assistant principal, I deal with bullies and their victims on a daily basis. I have seen the impact bullying has on a victim. Grades drop. Their attendance becomes an issue. Some resort to drugs or alcohol, and some even resort to suicide.
So why do we allow harassment and bullying to occur in our schools? The simple answer is that many administrators and teachers don’t know how to react when bullying happens in their classrooms and schools. Some are even afraid to confront a bully’s parents. From my experience, I have noticed that most bullies come from parents that are bullies themselves. These bully parents never hold their children accountable for their actions. Additionally, they always criticize and verbally berate teachers and school administrators when their children break school rules. Consequently, schools need to adopt hard-line policies that discourage bullying and harassment, such as a “three strikes and you’re out” policy.
Research has shown that in order to dissuade bullying and harassment, schools need to implement clear and concise anti-bullying policies. According to Stan Davis (2009), author of the website Stop Bullying Now, bullying interventions are successful when:
“Development and consistent enforcement of effective consequences for verbal and physical aggression which are predictable, inevitable, immediate, and escalating and based on uniform expectations for all. Consistent use of consequences will reduce these behaviors and are a necessary component of effective prevention. Inconsistent enforcement makes the problem worse.”
One of the primary objectives of public schools is to provide a safe learning environment for all students. A strict three strikes and you’re out bullying policy within schools can create a safe and positive educational environment in three distinct ways.
First, a policy that guides the administration within a school as to how to handle bullies will deter bullying from getting out of hand. While it is true that no one can prevent bullying one hundred percent, a strong policy sends a message to bullies that the school will not tolerate such behavior. It also holds bullies accountable for their actions with natural consequences – an understanding that if the behavior continues a bully will be removed from the school setting.
Secondly, a three strikes and you’re out policy will offer the victim protection from bullies. This tells victims that the school cares about their safety. They feel safe and can learn better at school, knowing that if anyone bullies them the bullies will be dealt with swiftly. It also offers victims the opportunity to report bullying in a timely manner to school administration. Often times, victims of bullying fail to report such abuse for fear of retaliation from their perpetrators. But a strong anti-bullying policy can ease this kind of anxiety.
Finally, a three strikes policy communicates to parents and the community that the school cares about the safety of its students. Parents will be more at ease sending their students to school knowing their kids are safe from bullying and harassment.
Overall, schools that institute no tolerance bullying policies, such as a “three strikes and you’re out” policy perform better than schools that don’t. “Schools with lower levels of bullying report higher scores on statewide tests” (Davis, 2009). Furthermore, the overall school climate is safe and positive.
Davis, S. (2009). Stop bullying now!. Retrieved from http://www.stopbullyingnow.com/interven.html