Bullying Prevention in Schools Starts with Social-Emotional Learning
Bullying has been acknowledged as a problem in schools for several decades. Recent media attention to the issue has thrust bullying into the forefront of many legislators’, educators’, and parents’ minds. In response to media attention and heightened concern on the part of lawmakers, educators, and families, research in this field has been burgeoning as well. Results from studies have taught us not only about the rates of bullying, but a great deal about the characteristics of both children who bully and those who are targeted.
Although many approaches have been developed to curb bullying, only a few programs have been shown to be effective in rigorous evaluations. Faced with increasing pressure from parents, community members, and district and state mandates, schools are struggling to figure out how best to address the issue of bullying and provide safe and respectful learning environments for all students.
Effective bullying prevention requires a multi-pronged effort. School staff need to have appropriate policies and procedures in place and need to know the right way to work with students involved in bullying. But another critically important part of tackling the problem is focusing on developing the social-emotional skills of children. These skills enable children to be socially competent citizens within the school environment and help build an overall positive climate within the school. Attention to these skills will support the development of healthier, happier children who are ready to learn and contribute to a safer environment.