You are part of the solution.
If you witness an act of violence or bullying, you must intervene.
- Gauge the potential physical danger to the victim and try to put a stop to the incident. (Get help if you feel that you need it.)
- State clearly and firmly that this type of behaviour is unacceptable. Remind the students involved of the school’s position on the issue, the rules of conduct and safety in effect in the school, and the rules of society in general. If there are any witnesses, make sure that they, too, hear what you have to say. Also indicate the type of behaviour that is acceptable, and what is expected of students.
- Report the incident to the proper authority and write up an account of it.
- Refer to your school’s intervention protocol and act as an adult witness, in accordance with your duties and responsibilities.
- Depending on their needs, refer the students concerned to the school psychologist or school counsellor, or to a social worker at a health and social services centre.
- Offer your support to the victim. (Be very careful that you don’t make the student feel even more vulnerable by talking in a way that suggests he or she is defenceless.)
- NEVER assume that the act you have witnessed is an isolated one.
- Respect the rules of confidentiality.
- If you feel that your safety or that of the victim is seriously compromised, don’t hesitate to call the police.
You must also engage in prevention activities and reduce the chances of episodes of violence or bullying occurring again.
- Make sure that you have correctly identified the students who are at risk of perpetrating or being subjected to acts of violence or bullying.
- Listen attentively to the victims and witnesses who confide in you. Take them seriously.
- Listen attentively to students who find it hard to satisfy their needs without resorting to violence (e.g. out of a need for recognition, low self-esteem, problems being assertive).
- Listen attentively to parents or guardians who contact you, and work with them to find solutions.
- Don’t wait for parents or guardians to call you if you know that a student is involved in a situation of violence or bullying. Be proactive: the parents or guardians will thank you for it.
- Organize bullying and violence awareness and prevention activities in the classroom, in conjunction with the professional staff specialized in this area, and invite parents, guardians and members of community to take part.
- Encourage the students to report scenes of violence or bullying whenever they witness them, and to act responsibly.
- Set a good example in interactions with your students and colleagues.