Bullying Prevention as Part of the Big Picture of School Safety

We have been performing school safety, security, climate, culture and emergency preparedness assessments for five school districts and one independent school in recent weeks.  We perform a lot of these projects each year and it is interesting to see how frequently the issue of bullying prevention is detached from other aspects of school safety. This can be a tremendous missed opportunity to reduce the prevalence of school bullying and to improve school culture and climate.

For example, it is very common for schools not to utilize any standard approaches to student supervision which directly correlates to the opportunity for students to engage in bullying behaviors without being directly spotted by school staff. Another common example is the lack of connection between the approach used for student discipline and the opportunity to reduce bullying behaviors. For example, many bullying behaviors are also distinct student disciplinary violations and are also sometimes violations of the state criminal code.

It is also common to see schools and districts that still do not utilize and evidence-based bullying prevention program or campaign even though one excellent campaign is available at no cost to schools through the federal government.

A student who punches another student may in some cases be a form of bullying. If the behavior fits into the pattern of actions described in definitions of bullying as provided by other members of this forum, this would be the case. At the same time, if a teacher observes a student punching another student because they are using proper supervision techniques and the school uses effective disciplinary and as appropriate criminal justice support, the frequency and severity of these types of behaviors will typically be far less frequent.


About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.