We know that everyday, many students are targeted on the basis of their race, religion, social class, sexual orientation or other aspect of their identity and that some of the most serious cases of bullying that occur in schools are the result of bias based on these aspects of identity. Name-calling and bullying, like other bias-motivated behaviors, have the potential to escalate into more serious incidents of violence if they are unchecked.
National Bullying Prevention Month is an opportunity to reflect on the classroom and school culture and ensure that we are engaging in best practices when it comes to creating respectful school environments that foster inclusion and respect and that effectively address the intersection of bullying and bias. The large body of credible research on effective responses to name-calling and bullying concurs that schools and other educational institutions can best address these behaviors through ongoing, comprehensive plans that include both intervention and prevention strategies and engage all people in the school environment: students, educators, school staff, families and other community members.
The cycle of name-calling and bullying behaviors is best interrupted by motivated allies. By exploring the range of behaviors associated with being an ally and engaging in opportunities to develop and put into practice skills to respond to name-calling and bullying, students can be motivated and empowered to act as allies and help contribute to creating a positive “ally culture” at their schools.