4 Action Steps to Creating Bully-Free Schools

By Quadric Witherspoon

Bullying is an epidemic in schools. It happens in so many different ways to scholars of almost any background and makes prevention feel impossible. As part of National Bullying Prevention Month, KIPP Halifax encourages kids to take the anti-bullying pledge because of bullying’s potentially devastating impact on their lives. I believe educators can make a difference by becoming more proactive, acknowledging early warning signs, and understanding how to eliminate bullying from our school campuses.

Experts say bullying contains two main factors: an imbalance of power and a repetition of behavior. North Carolina laws interpret bullying as any behavior on and off school property that places a student or school employee in reasonable fear. Additionally, the actions interfere with a student’s educational performance. The legal definition also includes cyberbullying, an even more severe threat due to its unending nature across social media apps like TikTok, Instagram, and other online communities.

1. Talk About Bullying Openly

At the beginning of the year, I prioritize meeting with all grade levels to give concrete terminology for bullying. Our faculty and staff will always quickly address minor actions like name-calling or playful physical contact. When bullying is present, we believe in swift and forceful action to send a message it won’t be tolerated. I’ve seen what happens when students are too afraid to speak up or staff members don’t immediately act to help them.

I once met with a fifth-grade student who’d been bullied for most of her life. As a result, she attended three schools in six years. At the meeting with her and her mother, I noticed she couldn’t stop fidgeting with her fingers. When introductions were over, before she even mentioned her name, she asked, “are there bullies at this school?” Her mother said our meeting was the first time anyone sat down with them to discuss bullying before it actually took place.

Read the full op-ed here.