Some head teachers/principals are reluctant to admit their school has a bullying problem. This can happen for a number of reasons. Some may be worried about the effect this admission will have on the school’s reputation, while others are concerned about the time and money required to deal effectively with bullying.
In repeated surveys and reports, a large proportion of principals feel that their school does not have a significant bullying problem. Could it be that, unless it is brought to their attention, many school professionals do not pick up on the signs? Are they being honest when they say bullying isn’t a problem? Even if there are no obvious signs, what better way to enhance the reputation of a school than with a robust anti-bullying policy? Parents will be impressed that the school takes this issue seriously enough to implement zero-tolerance in relation to bullying or any sort of anti-social behaviour. More importantly, students will feel happy and secure in an atmosphere which is conducive to learning.
What about cost? The truth is, dealing with a case of serious bullying is far more costly in terms of money and time than implementing a strong anti-bullying policy. In all cases of bullying, the inevitable investigation will mean teachers must spend time dealing with the issue rather than teaching the students. It is far better to have an anti-bullying policy in place which is publicised adequately so that the whole school knows it exists. No student should be unaware of the action that will be taken against bullies. All teachers and students should know what to do if they witness bullying. And all targets of bullying should feel reassured that the school will take their complaint seriously and that swift action will be taken. In the case of bullying, prevention is far more cost-effective and beneficial than the cure.
Finally, it goes without saying that teachers must never be disrespectful or abusive to students. Young people learn by example and poor teacher behaviour can make students feel resentful towards the whole teaching staff. In such cases, the academic performance of the school will suffer. Bullying is unacceptable in every form and must be stamped out.