Intervention programs need to be implemented in the early elementary grades - before aggressive behaviour, or a sense of victimization in a vulnerable child, become deeply entrenched. Even with early intervention, forms of bullying evolve as kids age, meaning they will require support for bullying throughout their school careers. Always stop bullying in the moment it occurs so children will know that the behaviour - whether it is name-calling, pushing or social exclusion - is not acceptable.
Our data shows that children who bully have friends who bully and they reinforce each other’s behaviour. Organizing groups, activities and seating arrangements to promote inclusion and tolerance is an important strategy for teachers to adopt. If children are allowed to make these decisions, students who are bullied will always be left out and humiliated and students who bully will congregate in groups. Surround kids who are bullied with other students who will stick up for them. Break up groups of kids who act aggressively together. By creating balanced groups with a diverse mix of kids, you can ensure that everyone is included and respected.
Involve students in developing a code of conduct and what they consider to be acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. If children are responsible for creating a class policy around bullying, they are more likely to follow and enforce it with their friends. Post the code of conduct to remind children (and adults) about what will and will not be tolerated at school.