Anti-Bullying Supports for Peers: Be An Upstander
Be an Upstander is a video for use with middle- and high-school students. It demonstrates strategies that can turn bystanders (persons not directly involved in the bullying incident) into Upstanders, those who can help diffuse a bullying situation. Resources to help facilitators use this video include a Facilitator Guide and Strategy List.
Hey. I’m Jenna.
And I’m Brandon. We want to talk with you today about kids who are being bullied. You know what bullying is. Like when one person chooses to get up in someone’s face. Or another kid uses their muscles or power over another. Or when someone hits, kicks, threatens, or keeps teasing somebody. Bullying is also when one kid excludes another from a group; or sends mean texts or emails.
Bullying happens more often to kids who have disabilities, like autism or being in a wheelchair or having intellectual challenges. By being an upstander instead of a bystander, peers can make a difference for anyone being bullied, including kids with disabilities. We need to work at including everyone and not set people apart because they have things about them that seem different. Really, each person is unique.
Being bullied can really make you feel alone. Some kids get so desperate that they quit school and their families move to another community, or kids might even hurt themselves. Some even commit suicide.
Maybe you’re not the one being bullied; maybe you’re not the bully; but if you’ve ever watched someone being bullied, I bet you wanted to help. Don't let bullies take our power. Instead of being a bystander, you can be an upstander. Here’s some stuff we can think about doing:
Become a friend of the person being bullied. Bringing someone into a group means they aren’t standing alone, so the bully is less likely to pick on them.
Bully 1: Hey, look at you trying to act all tough!
Bully 2: Don’t be a chicken.
Bully 1: Are you scared?
Bully 2: Well you should be.
Person 1: We’ll be back.
Upstander: Hey, don’t let it bother you. Do you wanna go see a movie or something though?
Victim: Sure, that sounds fun. I just need to stop home to get my money though.
Upstander: Nah, don’t worry about it, I’ll get it. You’ve been through enough today.
An upstander watches for kids who are picked on and helps them be part of a group.
If you’re a friend of the bully, talk to him or her in private about stopping it.
Friend: Hey, what’s up?
Friend: Well I have to talk to you about something…
Bully: All right. What is it?
Friend: Well I saw you in the hallway earlier and you were picking on that kid. Bully: It’s no big deal. I mean…
Friend: Well it came off across that you were being mean. I think you should try to be a little bit nicer.
Bully: Well it’s none of your business.
Friend: Well I’m just saying you could make more friends that way.
Bully: I mean I guess, but I don’t know how to be nice.
Friend: Just try it. Just say something nice once in a while.
Bully: All right. I guess I can give it a try.
Friend: Well it’s not that hard.
Bully: Well I don’t know what to do.
Friend: Just be nice.
Bully: That easy?
Friend: Yes. Very easy actually.
Bully: All right. If you say so.
Friend: Okay. Good.
An upstander who is a friend of the bully tries to help them see what bullying is doing and how to be a friend instead of a bully.
Don’t laugh or cheer on a bully. By doing this, you are giving others permission to do it to you.
Bully 1: Oh hey there tiny! Hey I seen you talking to the teacher in there. Kissing up. What are you the teacher’s pet or something?
Bully 2: Teacher’s pet! Teacher’s pet!
Victim: No no
Bully 1: Stumbling? Speak. You gonna cry?
Bullies 2 & 3: Come on! Make him cry! Make him cry! Come on!
Upstander: You guys need to stop encouraging this.
Bullies 2 & 3: Why?
Upstander: It’s not funny. How would you feel if you were being bullied?
Bully 1: We’re not, so…
Upstander: Try to put yourself into his shoes.
Bully 3: Well we’re not in his shoes and we’re not in his position so we don’t care. Whatever! Come on.
Bully 3: Come on.
Bully 1: We’ll finish this later Parker.
Upstander: Hey, you ok?
Victim: Not really.
Upstander: Come with me.
An upstander doesn’t laugh or cheer on a bully. An upstander tries to stop the bullying.
If you see bullying happening, get others who are watching to help you stop it by saying something. If someone says “stop it”, 50% of the time it stops. You could say: "Cut it out!", "That's not funny!", "How'd you like it if somebody did that to you?" Let the bully know that what he or she is doing is stupid and mean.
Bully 1: So I saw you at the game on Friday! I also saw when you were marching and then you tripped in the mud. Yeah. Me and Brittany saw that. We were dying. It was so funny.
Bully 2: Real nice.
Victim: I’m sorry. I’m just uncoordinated.
Bully 1: Well, are you a pig? Like oink, oink, oink. Cause you fell…
Bully 2: It’s the most I’ve laughed in weeks.
Upstander 1: Look, you need to stop.
Upstander 2: What’s going on here?
Bully 2: Nobody’s getting hurt!
Bully 1: Yeah, why should I stop?
Upstander 1: Well how would you feel while you were cheering and you fell and somebody laughed at you?
Upstander 2: It’s a totally different story if you were in his shoes. I guarantee it.
Bully 1: Well I… I never really thought about it that way. Sorry.
An upstander speaks up when bullying is happening. At least half the time speaking up will make it stop.
If you see someone being bullied, go by the person, and ask him or her to come with you. You can even have a group of people do this. When you do this it’s called “swarming”.
Bully: So, um, where’d you get that dress? The dumpster? Is that even a dress? I can’t even tell.
Victim: It is.
Bully: Oh. Well, it doesn’t look nice and I don’t even like your necklace. It doesn’t go with that it at all.
Victim: My grandma got me this necklace.
Upstander 1: Hey Jamie. Mrs. Blake needs to see you right away.
Upstander 2: But you need to hurry.
Upstander 1: Come on
Upstander 3: Uh, hey. You gotta cut it out. You can’t be making fun of people like that no more.
Bully: It’s fun.
Upstander 3: It’s not nice and it doesn’t matter. If you were in her shoes it’d be a totally different story and you know it.
Bully: Yeah, I can understand. All right.
An upstander helps the kid to get out of the bullying.
Here are a few other ideas about being an upstander and stopping bullying
Don’t use insults or physical violence back at the bully. Your job is not to fight. Your job is help.
Tell an adult, or report it anonymously to an adult, or use the school hotline or “bully box”. Some schools are even setting up anonymous texting to report bullying. Don’t give up if adults don’t respond the first time you report bullying. Keep telling.
Help the person being bullied to tell his parents or an adult at school.
Join the bullying prevention program at your school, or start one if it doesn’t exist. Help all students learn about stopping bullying.
Start or join a peer advocacy program that matches up peers with kids with differences who need a friend. You can get more information at this website.
Promote diversity. It’s okay to be different.
SO, still think this is none of your business? Well, think about this. What if YOU were the one being bullied? Would you want an upstander to help you out?
You might be the person who can make a difference in someone else’s life. You might even save a life.
Be an upstander. You have the power.
Anti-Bullying Strategies and Supports for Families: Supporting Individuals with Special Needs
Bullying is not acceptable. We believe that all persons have the right to live life as the persons they are, with their similarities and differences to others, and to not live in fear of being bullied. This webcast shares a little bit about bullying in general, how it applies to individuals with disabilities, and some ideas that can help family members support the individual with special needs who is a part of their life.
Slide 1: Hi! Welcome to the webinar- Anti-bullying Strategies and Supports for Families… Supporting those with Special Needs. My name is Julie Short. I am a regional coach for OCALI. I am also a parent of a child on the autism spectrum.
Slide 2: Bullying is not acceptable. We believe that every person has the right to live their life as the person they are, with their similarities and differences to others, and to not live in fear of being bullied. Today, I will be sharing a little bit about bullying in general, how it applies to individuals with disabilities, and some ideas that can help family members support the individual with special needs who is a part of their life.
Slide 3: Let’s get started with some signs of bullying. First of all, we need to be observant of a child’s behavior, appearance and moods, particularly if you think that a child is ‘at risk’ for being bullied. If a child is reluctant to attend school, you probably need to investigate why and consider a negative social experience as one reason. There can be physical signs and changes in mood and personality. Especially if the individual has difficulty communicating about events that happen at school, it’s good to be aware of these signs and keep an eye out for them. These are just some of the possible signs of bullying that you might observe in your child or family member.
Slide 4: Sometimes as parents we may not always see the signs our child is exhibiting as bullying. Even though we might not pick up on it right away, we know something is different with our child. These are some of the effects bullying can have on a family member: low self esteem, increased levels of anxiety, might be easily irritated, depression may occur, when they play with siblings or others they become aggressive and may try to hurt others. Also, it can create general health issues. These are all areas for concern that we want to take seriously. It’s important to talk with your family member and those that work with him or her to try to find out why there has been a change in behavior, which might include being bullied, and how he or she can receive the appropriate help and support.
Slide 5: Parents will want to familiarize themselves with the different places where bullying might occur. Most bullying can occur in unstructured areas where adults may not always be present such as the areas listed here. This factor about bullying makes it important to give our kids ways to cope with bullying, including building a support system around them.
Slide 6: As family members and parents, we want to always be sure our children are safe and protected. When we find out someone is hurting our child in some way, it hurts us. It can be hard to understand why others would not like our child or want to hurt them. Bullying has negative effects on all its victims, but kids with special needs are especially vulnerable. Children with special needs often have a lower social standing among the other students in the classroom, which may lead them to becoming the targets of bullying. They may have a low frustration tolerance. When frustration increases and reaches a threshold, it can lead to behaviors that are not typical, which makes the person stand out as being different. Some individuals with disabilities struggle with social skills- inability to make and keep friends, which can lead to others picking on them. Children with motor difficulties may have difficulty reading, writing and participating in gym class. As such, they are often made fun of on the playground and in class because they are unable to perform age-appropriate motor skills. Those with communication challenges can also be targeted because of their inability to communicate appropriately and typically with peers. Students with physical impairments may move slower, have less stamina, or an unsteady gait. These conditions, as well as others, may be viewed as signs of weakness and precipitate physical or verbal abuse. Bullies will watch for those who prefer solitude play and will take advantage of the opportunity to bully because they know that others aren’t watching and they have a better chance of getting away with it.
Slide 7: If a parent suspects something is wrong, talk with the child. Children can be reluctant to speak up for fear of retaliation or because they don’t want to “tattletale” or be blamed for being bullied. Whether it’s a parent or the child who initiates the conversation, speak openly and honestly – and listen! Keep the conversation at a level the child can understand. Remember that every child is different, so what may not bother one child, might be extremely detrimental to another. Be careful not to BLAME THE CHILD. Be supportive, loving and patient. Take his or her story seriously. Let him or her know that it’s not his or her fault and that appropriate action will be taken. BULLYING SHOULD NEVER BE IGNORED. Intervene immediately. Children can be easily emotionally wounded and may have few skills to cope. Follow up with the school as soon as possible. If needed, seek help from outside sources.
Slide 8: Here are some resources to share with your child’s school. Developing a school culture that is saturated with anti-bullying training and with a message of acceptance for all persons can only benefit students with disabilities, along with ALL students. There are many resources available. This slide lists Ohio and federal website resources, as well as two well-known organizations.
Slide 9: There are proactive things we can do to help our child overcome bullying issues. Here are a few strategies that may be helpful. We will talk about each one on the following slides.
Slide 10: When you suspect or know your child is being bullied it’s important to talk with school personnel. You can arrange a meeting by contacting the school and requesting a team meeting. It is also a good idea to put your request in writing. You want to include all of those that are involved with your child as well as the administration of the school. It’s important to remain calm but yet firm in your request to work together as a team. The school has a legal obligation to protect your child and provide a safe environment. You also may want to consider the IEP addressing some goals that will protect and support your child, such as social and emotional goals that are measurable and relevant. Participate in a social skills group with the opportunity to practice social situations, role playing, social stories and other techniques that can build skills to help avoid bullying. This can create friendships and a sense of not being alone. The speech and language therapist can help develop goals that could focus on language pragmatics, which can help develop the ability to use language appropriately. Self Advocacy goals can help the child to learn to say “stop” and to speak up for themselves. Also, self awareness goals can help your child or family member learn their strengths as well as understand how their disability may impact them in social situations.
Slide 11: No one wants to be bullied nor do they deserve it. It can be painful for a parent to know that their child is being picked on. It’s important to help teach confidence in your child to help raise their self esteem. It can be very detrimental for your loved one to be bullied. We as parents and family members can make a difference because we can help them develop talents or positive attributes in themselves. Try to seek out the activities that they are good at and build upon them. Activities such as sports, music and art can be wonderful activities that can increase their self esteem as well as provide therapy for them. We can also help identify peers that we know are friendly, supportive, and caring. Building relationships with their families and encouraging interaction with those peers and your child could help in building a network of support around them and make them less vulnerable. Also the school doesn’t have to be the only place to build friendships. Having your child involved in outside activities continues to build a network of support. Be seen in the community, whether it be at sporting events, church, community events, birthday parties, and other events. The more your child is seen as a contributing member of the community the more likely they will be accepted and appreciated.
Slide 12: We can’t always be with our children. It’s important to help our child learn who they can trust and help them develop a relationship with those that can help. Talk to other parents about which teachers and school personnel might be good ones for your child to go to who seem to be willing to listen and take action if necessary. Our children may not understand how to seek help from adults. One way to help with this is to teach your child how to express their feelings and another is identifying a peer or friend that provides support as well as advocacy. We’ll talk about these on the next couple of slides.
Slide 13: Knowing how to communicate emotions gives the individual a chance to share how they feel if being bullied. They could tell the adult, “I feel hurt when Jay calls me names”. Explaining to the adult how you feel when you get picked on helps adults connect with you in a more personal way. If the individual is nonverbal you could provide visual supports of feeling cards or program on their device feelings and emotions. Bullies are less likely to target students if they know they have a support system in place and someone to defend them.
Slide 14: Here are some examples of visual supports for teaching about and expressing emotions. Individuals can point to how they are feeling or can track how they are feeling overall each day, or can share how they feel about a certain event. Being able to communicate is a skill that can help protect against bullying.
Slide 15: Circle of Friends is one process that helps build a network of support by helping peers and the individual with disabilities develop understanding of each other and establish friendships. This is a structured process that requires an adult leader and regular meetings. Details are available at the two sites listed on the slide.
Slide 16: When children are victims of bullying it can create much anxiety for them. This can lead to depression, anger, self injurious behavior. There are some calming strategies we can use to help teach our child how to deal with their emotions. There are many relaxation/calming strategies available but be sure you match your child up with the right one that fits and works for them. We can identify this by watching the behavior after a technique is tried. Let’s look at a couple of ideas on the next slides.
Slide 17: One way to help reduce anxiety might be to teach our child how to take deep breaths to calm our nervous system down. Depending on your child’s physical challenges, you might want to work with a therapist, doctor, psychologist or counselor on how to best adapt this for him or her. Counting backwards from 10 or 5 can give a person time to calm down. Staying calm during a bullying situation may help diffuse it. You probably want to teach this through practicing with your family member, possibly using a number chart or your fingers as a visual cue. Yoga is starting to show promise as a method to build strength, confidence, and a sense of calmness in individuals with disabilities. There are many classes, books and DVDs about yoga and kids available to try.
Slide 18: An anxiety hierarchy is another way to find out how your family member is feeling and might open up conversation about any bullying incidences. In this example, the individual was identifying places he likes to be that make him the least anxious up to the most anxious. From this chart, you could then talk about why he feels anxious in each of these situations and what supports could help to relieve it. You also could talk about what other people are doing to him in these environments to explore possible bullying.
Slide 19: Here are some more ideas to support your family member. These can be used to talk about what to do before bullying happens, or to support if the individual has been bullied. Let’s check these out.
Slide 20: Role playing allows the individual to watch others act out a bullying situation and how to handle it, or to practice what to do if they are being bullied. This can be a safe, comfortable way to learn and actually go through what might happen in a non-threatening environment. Role playing can happen at home, at school, or maybe in a social group.
Slide 21: Role plays are an interactive method to creatively engage elementary school children to learn options for handling bullying situations. Here is a website, The Pacer- National Bullying Prevention Center, that offers free printouts of plays and puppets to use with your family or share with your child’s school. You could also use dolls or favorite figures to role play. This can help your child learn what to do when they are being bullied.
Slide 22: Cartooning can help to talk about a possible bullying situation by drawing it out and discussing it, or if someone has been bullied you can help him or her work through what happened by drawing out who was involved, what was said, and what people were thinking. It can help make a stressful, abstract happening become more concrete by making it visual.
Slide 23: Here is a cartooning example of a bullying incident in the school hallway. Danny was walking down the hall when a couple of kids called him over, with smiles on their faces, and tripped him. They also called him dumb. Danny told his teacher what happened and the teacher drew the cartoon with talk bubbles showing what everyone said. The next step would be to add thought bubbles to the people and have Danny say what he thinks each person was thinking and feeling throughout the cartoon. And then, the teacher can use this to talk about what Danny could have done to avoid the situation, how to “read” what other people might be thinking and might do even if they are smiling, and how to deal with the emotions he has after being bullied. The teacher can also use this cartoon to deal with Andre and Mac to show them what was wrong and talk about why they need to change their behavior. Cartooning helps make an upsetting, abstract situation visual so you can use it to teach about social behavior.
Slide 24: This slide describes SOCCSS (Situation-Options-Consequences-Choices-Strategies-Simulation). SOCCSS is a social decision-making process designed to help individuals understand social situations. Individuals who struggle with social understanding can benefit from this problem-solving approach when learning to choose appropriate social behavior. This takes an individual through an approach for how to think through a social situation and come up with the best solution for them. Having a practice step allows them to build confidence before approaching the situation. Although this can be used for any social situation, it definitely lends itself to bullying events.
Slide 25: Here is an example for using SOCCSS. The situation is that a child is being picked on by another student in class and he reacted by shoving the student. The next step in the SOCCSS process was to identify what options were available when being poked with a pencil. This is an important step because sometimes it seems there is only one thing to do, or the child may feel like there is no option at all. After identifying options, we talked about the consequences that might happen for each option. This gives the individual a chance to think through each possible scenario.
Slide 26: After reviewing the options and consequences, you would then talk about the different strategies and prioritize them. Then, the individual would chose trying to move away first, but then it would be time to tell the teacher. Last, the individual gets to practice the plan so he or she will feel comfortable moving away and then telling the teacher.
Slide 27: While the technology provides a more fluid means of interacting with peers and opens up a new potential pool of social contacts, researchers also know that it provides a completely unfiltered method for bullies to attack and harass students with special needs outside of the classroom. All children with special needs should be taught some basic fundamentals about online activities. “Everything is visible for the world to see.” Help children understand why it is important not to reveal details others should not “see”. Set firm rules as to when and how long a child can be online. It’s a good idea to only allow a child to go online when parents are home to supervise their activities. Through role playing or social stories, teach a child what improper photos, videos or threatening conduct might look like or feel like. Keep copies of inappropriate messages, but, as a parent, do not respond. DO NOT DISSUADE A CHILD FROM USING TECHNOLOGY such as cell phones for text messaging or Facebook for communication with peers. These tools are becoming increasingly a part of the way in which youth communicate and to leave them out of such communication streams isolates them more. Instead, teach them the proper use for the tools.
Slide 28: Thank you for viewing Anti-bullying Strategies and Supports for Families. We hope you found this presentation helpful. If you need further support, you may call our office at 1-866-886-2254.
Anti-Bullying Strategies and Supports for Educators: Supporting Individuals with Special Needs
Bullying is not acceptable. We believe that all persons have the right to live their life as the persons they are, with their similarities and differences to others, and to not live in fear of being bullied. Did you know that 60% of students with disabilities report being bullied compared with 25% of students without disabilities? This is why we need to focus on how to help the students who are usually the most vulnerable in schools. This webcast shares information about bullying in general, how it applies to individuals with disabilities, and some ideas that can help school staff support the individual with special needs.
Hi! Welcome to the webinar on Anti-bullying Strategies and Supports for Educators… Supporting Individuals with Special Needs. My name is Julie Babyak. I am an intern at OCALI and a graduate student in school psychology at The Ohio State University.
Bullying is not acceptable. We believe that every person has the right to live their life as the person they are, with their similarities and differences to others, and to not live in fear of being bullied. Did you know that 60% of students with disabilities report being bullied compared with 25% of students without disabilities? This is why we need to focus on how to help the students who are usually the most vulnerable in schools. Today, we will be sharing information about bullying in general, how it applies to individuals with disabilities, and some ideas that can help school staff support the individual with special needs.
When most people think of bullying, they often think of the physical acts of violence such as hitting, pushing and punching. However, bullying can take on several different forms and each form can look drastically different from the other. The four main forms or types of bullying are discussed on this slide. The first form of bullying is physical bullying. Physical bullying can be any physical act of aggression such as hitting, pushing, tripping, grabbing, punching, shoving, or destroying another’s property or schoolwork. The second form of bullying includes verbal acts including but not limited to teasing, making fun, threats, name-calling or non-verbal communication such as gestures. Physical and verbal forms of bullying are usually easier to detect because they are overt acts of bullying meaning that they are easily witnessed and observed. The third form of bullying is social bullying. Examples of social bullying including isolating others through rumors, shunning and humiliation and the use of social media. The last form of bullying is educational bullying. Educational bullying occurs when school professionals and personnel use their position and power to cause distress to students; this can be done through the use of sarcasm, humiliation, and favoring certain students. The research shows that bullying is less likely to occur in schools and classrooms where teachers are good role models for positive treatment of ALL individuals.
Bullying can occur almost anywhere these days although some places within a school building or during the school day are more prone to these types of incidents. For example, most bullying incidents occur in unstructured areas where adult supervision is limited. Examples of unstructured areas include the playground, the bus, the neighborhood bus stop, the cafeteria, hallways and the bathrooms. Therefore students with disabilities may need adult supervision or peer support in these unstructured areas of the school.
Due to the different types of bullying, there are many different signs of bullying that students may display. Most signs of bullying fall into one of three general categories: physical signs, social/behavioral signs, and psychological signs. Examples of the various signs of bullying are listed on this slide and include things such as ripped clothing, bruises, decreased academic performance, nightmares, depression and anxiety. School staff need to be aware of these signs and watch for them in all students, but especially those students with disabilities who may have communication challenges that hinder their ability to share what is happening or who may have social challenges that interfere with their understanding of what is happening to them.
All types of bullying may leave lasting effects on those students who have been bullied. Possible effects include low self-esteem, increased levels of anxiety, depression, teasing, health complaints and behaviors of retaliation. Educators and administrators need to be aware of the effects and how to handle those students who have been bullied. For example, educators may want to consider a referral to the school psychologist, guidance counselor, or school social worker to discuss and address issues such as anxiety and depression, as well as working with the family of the student to offer these supports.
In this presentation, interventions will be discussed using a tiered approach that separates them into three categories. The tiers go from most general which includes school wide interventions and programs, then to small group interventions, and to the most direct interventions involving one on one supports.
Research shows that bullying incidents can be decreased by implementing school-wide tolerance and PBIS programs. There are numerous school wide interventions that educators and administrators can choose to implement. This slide lists several possibilities. Teaching tolerance through the use of ability awareness programs or specific social emotional learning curriculums are proactive approaches that build social competence in the overall school culture. Establishing a positive behavior support system offers support at various levels for those who might be bullying others and can help individuals whose behavior isolates them and makes them an easier target to be bullied. Implementing anti-bullying programs, creating anonymous bullying reporting forms and conducting safety surveys are ways to help address specific school safety concerns.
Teaching tolerance and implementing a positive school climate that highlights understanding and awareness is one way to address bullying concerns even before they occur. Another way to help teach school wide tolerance is through the use of social and emotional learning curriculums. Social and emotional learning (SEL) assists children to develop fundamental skills to effectively handle school, relationships and personal development. Examples may include managing emotions, caring for others, decision making and handling situations ethically. A reliable source for this topic is the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning website listed on this slide. Research has shown that high-quality SEL programs led to significant improvements in students’ social and emotional skills, in attitudes about self and others, and in classroom behavior. Programs were also associated with substantial decreases in conduct problems and emotional distress such as anxiety and depression—all of which are part of the bullying phenomenon. Academic scores also improved by as much as 11 percentile points.
Implementing a positive behavior support system or a system of positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) is another way for a district or a particular school to address bullying issues. The underlying idea of PBIS is to teach behavioral expectations in the same manner as any core curriculum subject so instead of telling students what not to do, the school will focus on the positive, preferred behaviors. More specifically, intervention is focused on creating and sustaining primary or school-wide systems, secondary or classroom systems, and tertiary or individual systems of support that improve outcomes such as personal, health, social, family, work, and recreational outcomes for all children and youth by making problem behavior less effective, efficient, and relevant, and desired behavior more functional.
Developing a school culture that is saturated with anti-bullying training and with a message of acceptance for all persons can benefit students with disabilities, along with ALL students. There are many resources available. This slide lists both Ohio and federal website resources, as well as two well-known organizations.
The second tier of intervention focuses on small group interventions. These interventions can be used in one grade, in one class, or in smaller groups. For example, a peer-mentoring program could be established for a particular grade or class. There is promising research in the use of peer advocate programs for students with disabilities. These programs train peers and then set them up with students with disabilities as a way of forming friendships and a network of support. This is one way to help protect these students from being the targets of bullying.
Social skills groups are usually established for a small group of students. Social skills groups are small-group instruction practices with a shared goal in which participants can learn, practice, and receive feedback. Social Skills Groups are used to teach individuals who lack appropriate social skills, ways to appropriately interact with peers. Typically, groups involve between two and eight individuals and a teacher or other adult facilitator. When selecting participants for a social skills group it is important to remember to include “model” students or those students that already display appropriate social skills. During the training a combination of instruction, role-playing or practice, and feedback is employed to learn and practice new skills for interacting with peers in ways that will foster increased and positive social interaction. For more information about social skills groups, see the Autism Internet Module about this topic. Although this is specific to students with autism, many students with other disabilities may have challenges with social competence and could benefit from this intervention.
One intervention that might be used in a social skills group, or could be used in the classroom, is role-playing. Role-playing allows the individual to watch others act out a bullying situation and how to handle it, or how to practice what to do if they are being bullied. This can be a safe, comfortable way to learn and actually go through what might happen in a non-threatening environment.
Role-plays are an interactive method to creatively engage elementary school children to learn options for handling bullying situations. Here is a website, The Pacer- National Bullying Prevention Center, that offers free printouts of plays and puppets to use with the students. You could also use dolls or favorite figures to role-play. This can help younger children learn what to do when they are being bullied.
The following slides will discuss proactive and reactive anti-bullying strategies to use with students with disabilities.
We already discussed social skills groups as a tier two small group strategy. This can also be a tier three individualized strategy as a student can be assessed in the area of social competence, and then a program designed to support the identified strengths and meet the challenges for an individual within the group setting. One of the best ways to combat bullying for students with disabilities is to limit their isolation by building relationships with other students.
One type of group that can help an individual is the Circle of Friends. Circle of Friends is a process that helps build a network of support by helping peers and the individual with disabilities develop understanding of each other and establish friendships. This is a structured process that requires an adult leader and regular meetings. Details are available at the two sites listed on this slide.
Working with a student to help him or her understand more about their disability through the strengths they possess and the good things they can do, as well as how it may affect them in social situations, and bullying in particular, can help the student be prepared as they move through the school day. This is a good practice to do, in conjunction with the family, before any bullying situations happen.
Another proactive strategy is teaching specifically about bullying. Students with special needs may need direct instruction to know what bullying is and what to do if they think they are being bullied. Part of the instruction can include learning the difference between tattling and reporting an actual incident. Using examples and non-examples can help to teach this skill.
Another proactive strategy is to teach the student what to say in a bullying situation. Getting a chance to practice in a non-threatening situation with support and encouragement can prepare the student to defuse an actual bullying situation in the future. Another suggestion is to assist students to build skills like turn taking and how to “stop-think-act” before just saying or doing their first reaction. For many students with disabilities, social understanding needs to be taught just like academics with the chance for repetitive practice.
Helping a student develop a relationship with a staff member is an important protective step. By developing a relationship, the student with a disability knows who to talk to about bullying situations; the staff member knows they are watching and advocating for the student; and the other students know that this is a student with a disability has a connection and support system around them, which helps remove the isolation factor that can happen.
Knowing how to identify and communicate emotions gives the student a chance to share how they feel if they are being bullied. For example, if they are able to tell an adult, “I feel hurt when Jay calls me names” then this can also facilitate a relationship; when the student is able to explain to an adult how they feel when they get picked on it helps the adult connect with them in a more personal way. If the individual is nonverbal you could provide visual supports of feeling cards or program on their device feelings and emotions. Bullies are less likely to target students if they know they have a support system in place and someone to defend them.
Here are some examples of visual supports for teaching about and expressing emotions. Individuals can point to how they are feeling or can track how they are feeling overall each day, or can share how they feel about a certain event. Being able to communicate is a critical skill that can help protect against bullying.
This slide features numerous strategies for teachers, administrators and other educators in dealing with those students who have been or are currently being bullied. Before you approach a student about possible bullying or when a student initially approaches you it is important to remember not to offer too much support in public. Children and adolescents especially are often concerned about how their peers perceive them and too much public exposure may worsen the problems. Therefore, it is important to provide as much privacy as possible.
When you begin a discussion regarding a specific incident there are several strategies that can be used including:
First, be sure to listen to the student, be compassionate and use a calm voice. The student may be nervous or scared to report the incident and we want students to feel safe and secure in reporting any and every bullying incident. Remember to always praise the student for having the courage to come forward and discuss the issue. Therefore, it is also important to take reports seriously and reassure the student or students that they were right to come to you and that you will advocate for them.
During the discussion make sure to actively include the student in the problem-solving and one way to do this is by asking the student what he or she needs to feel safe and attempt to decrease self-blame by identifying the bullying behaviors as wrong and unjustified. While you are discussing the incident with the student, try to discuss whether other bullying has occurred; for some students it may be easiest to talk about all situations or issues, while others may need more time to report other incidents.
A possible support during conversations about bullying is cartooning. Cartooning can help to talk about a possible bullying situation by drawing it out and discussing it, or if someone has been bullied you can help him or her work through what happened by drawing out who was involved, what was said, and what people were thinking. It can help make a stressful, abstract happening become more concrete by making it visual.
Here is a cartooning example of a bullying incident that occurred in the school hallway. Danny was walking down the hall when a couple of kids called him over, with smiles on their faces, and tripped him. They also called him dumb. Danny told his teacher what happened and the teacher drew the cartoon with talk bubbles showing what everyone said. The next step would be to add thought bubbles to the people and have Danny say what he thinks each person was thinking and feeling throughout the cartoon. And then, the teacher can use this to talk about what Danny could have done to avoid the situation, how to “read” what other people might be thinking and what to do even if they are smiling, and how to deal with the emotions he has after being bullied. The teacher can also use this cartoon to deal with Andre and Mac to show them what was wrong and talk about why they need to change their behavior. Cartooning helps make an upsetting, abstract situation visual so you can use it to teach about social behavior.
Another possible communication support is SOCCSS, which stands for Situation-Options-Consequences-Choices-Strategies-Simulation. It is a social decision-making process designed to help individuals understand social situations. Individuals who struggle with social understanding can benefit from this problem-solving approach when learning to choose appropriate social behavior. This takes an individual through an approach for how to think through a social situation and come up with the best solution for them. Having a practice step allows them to build confidence before approaching the situation. While this can be used for any social situation, it definitely lends itself to bullying events.
Here is an example for using SOCCSS. The situation is that a child is being picked on by another student in the class and he reacted by shoving the student. The next step in the SOCCSS process was to identify what options were available when being poked with a pencil. This is an important step because sometimes it seems there is only one thing to do, or the child may feel like there is no option at all. After identifying options, it is important to talk about the consequences that might happen for each option. This gives the student a chance to think through each possible scenario.
After reviewing the options and consequences, you would then talk about the different strategies and prioritize them. Then, the student would choose trying to move away first, but if that doesn’t work then it would be time to tell the teacher. Lastly, the student gets to practice the plan so he or she will feel comfortable moving away and then telling the teacher.
This slide features more strategies for dealing with those students who have been or are currently being bullied. These strategies can be used after the initial conversation has taken place.
After you have discussed the incident with the student be sure to communicate with other relevant and necessary staff members about the bullying incident. This is to ensure that all relevant staff are on the same page and included in the prevention of future cases. After a bullying incident has been reported and all relevant staff have been informed it is important for a teacher, administrator, or other educator to be proactive in manipulating the classroom environment for success and of course to continue to monitor behaviors and have a follow-up conversation with the student. Lastly, it is always important to take into consideration any exceptionalities and how they may impact bullying situations and then individualize strategies accordingly or as necessary and it is important for school staff to remember to never force a meeting between the student who is bullied and the bully; forced meetings and apologies don’t help and can once again worsen the issue.
In summarizing what we have shared today, it is important as educators that we do not tolerate even the lowest-level of bullying, which might just be a snicker or an eye roll at the expense of another person. Assigning a staff member to mentor students with disabilities can be a first line of defense. Implementing some of the proactive strategies, like peer mentors or self-advocacy training, can help avoid bullying situations. And then, being prepared to deal with the individual who is being, or has been, bullied can help staff feel ready to support all students.
That ends our webinar for today. We hope you enjoyed learning with OCALI.