Anti-bullying strategies for educators
Bullying in schools is an ongoing issue with significant negative long-term consequences for the students involved. A large and growing body of research indicates that although bullying is a difficult problem to shift, school-based interventions can be successful in reducing bullying behaviours.
Evidence indicates that bullying is most effectively addressed through interventions that take a holistic, whole-school approach; include educational content that allows students to develop social and emotional competencies and learn appropriate ways to respond to bullying; provide support and professional development to teachers and other school staff; and ensure systematic program implementation and evaluation. To find out more, read CESEs Anti-bullying interventions in schools - what works.
Strategies for individual students
- Establish a school culture that is clearly prosocial and pro-learning, and where bullying and violence is neither accepted or expected.
- Empower students to tell adults when bullying occurs.
- Provide programs to develop students' resilience, communication, social, assertiveness and coping skills.
- Change the physical school environment (e.g. conduct a playground safety audit) and improve teacher supervision in specific areas of the school grounds.
- Increase supervision of students at particular times or places - as identified by an audit of school incidents and data.
- Make access to support from a school counsellor, student support officer or relevant allied health professional simple for students and parents.
- Review technology access at school and introduce and review programs to increase the safe, smart and responsible use of technology.
- Consider timetable or class changes to decrease the potential contact students may have with each other.
- Consider mediation, restorative practice or conferencing for students involved to resolve issues.
- Develop behaviour support plans for those students involved in bullying who require intensive support.
- Establish a student support group if necessary.
Strategies for school staff
Strategies that promote respect and positive relationships can help prevent bullying in the classroom.
When students feel empowered to tell adults when bullying occurs, to create opportunities for positive relationships and make commitments not to engage in bullying behaviours, they can establish a positive peer culture that makes a huge contribution to the school culture as a whole and will reduce bullying.
- develop rules with students so they set their own climate of respect and responsibility
- teach their students that they can and should stand up for others, and how to do this in a safe way
- teach anti-bullying content through age-appropriate activities such as literature, audio-visual material and videos, drama and role-play, music, debates, workshops, puppets and dolls (in early years), group work, and computer-based games where students can act out roles
- don't wait until bullying occurs to talk about it. Discussing bullying in the classroom requires teaching thinking strategies and scaffolding discussion.
There are opportunities within the curriculum and throughout the school day for learning about concepts related to bullying, and to foster positive, inclusive and proactive attitudes and practices. The Bullying. No Way! Working in the classroom resource provides useful information to help educators create safe and supportive discussions around bullying.
All school staff can:
- use positive terms, and focus on what students should be doing rather than what they shouldn't be
- be a positive role model
- promote cooperation
- reinforce the rules of the school and the Behaviour Code for Students
- show students respect and encourage them to be successful
- make expectations clear - keep requests simple, direct, and specific
- reward positive and appropriate behaviour - try to affirm appropriate behaviour four to five times for every one criticism of inappropriate behaviour
- use one-on-one feedback
- help students correct their behaviours - help them understand breaking the rules results in consequences: “I know you can stop [negative action] and go back to [positive action]. If you choose to continue, then [consequence].”
- understand their duty of care to ensure the safety of their students and have sufficient training to feel confident in preventing and responding to bullying.
Information about this resource
This resource supports school staff to implement strategies that promote respect and positive relationships to help prevent bullying.
This resource supports teachers and school staff:
support students to feel empowered to tell adults when bullying occurs
create opportunities for positive relationships to minimise bullying behaviours
establish a positive peer culture, which in turn contributes to the development of a positive school culture to reduce bullying.
This resource addresses a need identified through the three key areas of practice, support and ongoing improvement to:
implement teaching and behaviour management approaches and practices aimed at building positive behaviours and learning environments
reduce the occurrence of challenging and unsafe behaviours through proactive and preventive approaches
provide better options for managing challenging behaviours when they do occur.
School leaders and teachers across all school settings.
This resource can be used without assistance, as a stand-alone resource and/or linked to professional learning. Optional support is available through the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation literature review on effective anti-bullying interventions in schools, our restorative practice webpage, the Bullying. No Way! website & various other external websites listed.
All students P-12.
When to use
When schools are seeking to implement strategies that promote respect and positive relationships to help prevent bullying.
Can be used at any time in the school year.
System priorities and/or needs
This resource aligns with:
- the Premier’s Priorities to improve outcomes in literacy and numeracy and HSC attainment
- Our Plan for NSW Public Education’s direction and priorities of strengthening student wellbeing and development and advancing equitable outcomes, opportunities and experiences
- need identified by Delivery Support, particularly Behaviour Specialists, to build teacher capacity in inderstanding and addressing bullying.
- Learning domain – Wellbeing (Caring for students, A planned approach to wellbeing, Individual learning needs, Behaviour)
- Leading domain: Educational leadership (Instructional leadership, High expectations culture, Community engagement) and School planning, implementation and reporting (Continuous improvement, School plan, Annual report)
- Teaching domain: Effective classroom practice (Classroom management).
- The Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration 2019
- Disability Standards for Education 2005
- NESA syllabus documents – general capabilities: Personal and social capabilities
- Australian Professional Standards for Teachers
- Standard 4, particularly 4.1, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5
- Australian Student Wellbeing Framework
- Wellbeing Framework for schools - behaviour, discipline and character education, effective Leadership, school planning
- Achieving School Excellence in Wellbeing and Inclusion
- Student Behaviour Policy
- Anti-bullying interventions in schools-what works?
- Health, Safety and Staff Wellbeing Directorate risk management - student behaviour resources (internal only)
- Supported online learning courses: Personalised learning, Understanding and supporting behaviour and Supporting student wellbeing and mental health
- The National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence (NDA) resources
- The eSafety Commissioner website
- Information for Teachers about Racist Bullying
- Inclusive Practice hub, particularly, when you are being bullied script - primary, when someone is being bullied script- primary, what is bullying story - secondary, when you are being bullied - how to ask for help scripts - secondary, what is cyberbullying story - secondary
- Information for Teachers about Racist Bullying
- Restorative practices
- Bullying, No Way! Working in the classroom
- Be You
- Bullying. No Way!
- eSafety Educators
- ReachOut for Schools - What is bullying
- Victorian Government Department of Education.
Consulted with: The information in this resource was developed as part of the NSW Government’s Anti-Bullying Strategy (2017-2020) in consultation with world-leading academic expert advisors Professor Donna Cross, Professor Rosemary Johnston, and Professor Ian Hickie. The Advocate for Children and Young People assisted with consultation with students.
The Department partnered with the NSW Association of Independent Schools, Catholic Schools NSW, eSafety Commissioner, Bullying No Way!, and the Kids Helpline in consultation with principal and parent groups to create an evidence-based resource package for students, teachers, parents and carers to identify, prevent and respond effectively to student bullying behaviours.
Professor Donna Cross, Professor Rosemary Johnston, and Professor Ian Hickie reviewed and endorsed all the materials for the website.
Reviewed by: Behaviour Services
Last updated: January 2024
Byers, D., Caltabiano, N., & Caltabiano, M. (2011). Teachers’ attitudes toward overt and covert bullying, and perceived efficacy to intervene. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36: 11, 105-119.
Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation. (2017). Anti-bullying interventions in schools - what works? Literature review. Department of Education. https://education.nsw.gov.au/about-us/educational-data/cese/publications/literature-reviews/anti-bullying-interventions-in-schools
Konishi, C., Hymel, S., Zumbo, B. D. and Li Z. (2010) ‘Do school bullying and student-teacher relations matter for academic achievement?: A Multilevel Analysis’, Canadian Journal of School Psychology, Vol.25, pp.19-39.
Leonidas Kyriakides, Bert P. M. Creemers, Dona Papastylianou & Marietta Papadatou-Pastou (2014) Improving the School Learning Environment to Reduce Bullying: An Experimental Study, Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 58:4, 453-478, DOI: 10.1080/00313831.2013.773556
Ttofi, M & Farrington, D 2011, ‘Effectiveness of school-based programs to reduce bullying: A systematic and meta-analytic review’, Journal of Experimental Criminology, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 27-56.
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