We should all think of our school as a community. That community is harmed when some of its members intentionally hurt their peers. We all need to work together to make sure this doesn’t happen and that everyone feels safe. Teachers will intervene if they witness instances of student bullying, but there are fewer of them compared to the number of students in a school, and sometimes bullying occurs in places and at times when adults cannot easily observe it. That is why we encourage students to speak up and report what happened to them, or report what they’ve seen happen to someone else, and also to offer support—in whatever way is comfortable—to a student who has been mistreated.

We want to be clear that we do not want students to confront (“get in the face of”) a student who is mistreating them or a peer. This is for two reasons. First, our school rules do not allow physical or verbal violence against students for any reason, even if you feel retaliation (“getting back at the person”) is justified. If we respond to violence with violence, it just continues a vicious cycle of negative behavior. Second, sometimes aggressively confronting a student who is bullying can be embarrassing for the person being mistreated, and it may even make things worse for that person in the long run. Some alternatives to aggressive confrontation might be to say something like “Not cool” or to stand silently with the target as a show of support. Another option would be to support the mistreated student after the incident, perhaps helping that person report what happened.

So YES, report the incident and support the student who was mistreated. But NO, do not suggest that a student gets in a verbal or physical fight with a student who is displaying bullying behavior. (Refer to key school rules as applicable, e.g.,“That’s not okay” or “Keep your hands off.”)

We’d be glad to talk about some things we can all work on so that together, we feel safer as a community. We will make sure that everyone knows how to report a bullying incident. Also, if anyone wants to talk with us about something that has happened to their student or another person, or about any other concerns, we are more than happy to listen.