7 Practical School Counseling Interventions for Bullying Prevention Month

It's October, and it's also Bullying Prevention Month! Being such a vital topic to cover, especially at the start of a new school year, chances are you're already teaching class lessons, organizing bullying prevention campaigns, and sending out newsletters to parents.

I tend to start the year with a focus on friendships, relationship building, empathy, bucket filling, and conflict resolution, so when October arrives, my kiddos are emotionally and socially more prepared to have explicit preventative education on bullying. And if you're a busy counselor looking for practical yet effective ways to mark Bullying Prevention Month, read on.

7 Practical School Counseling Interventions for Bullying Prevention Month

1. Preventative Guidance Lessons

Come October and my school-wide Bullying Prevention Guidance Lesson is my go-to resource. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to raising awareness about bullying. My main goal of whole class lessons is to help students identify and define bullying behavior and different types of bullying. They also learn how to be an "upstander" and the differences between tattling and reporting. Since you will be teaching a lesson like this across all grades, there will be consistency in the language being used and understood when it comes to addressing bullying.

2. Small Group Interventions

While preventative class lessons on bullying are highly essential, something I have noticed is that the term "bullying" is often overused or misused. What is sometimes a conflict with two people/two groups of people taking opposing sides, is often reported as bullying, especially in upper elementary grades.

This is why I prefer running a Relational Aggression group every year. I enjoy using games, discussion cards, and journal prompts to help students navigate girl bullying. Equally powerful to use with middle schoolers, this relational aggression activity pack will help students to learn to define relational aggression, analyze their own bullying behaviors, and discuss strategies to prevent bullying. Unsure of how to run a relational aggression group? Check out this blog post for pointers.

3. Individual Check-Ins

Your schedule is already tight and additional check-ins are probably not easy to host. However, if you have a co-counselor or interns working with you, utilize this month to check-in with students who have previously reported being bullied or students you have observed being sidelined on the playground, or even those you've noticed are the first to pick up fights and tend to not be able to make friends easily. Remember, both the bullied and the bully, need help.

bullying prevention freebie

4. Themed Games and Activities

Isn't it fascinating how a serious topic like Bullying Prevention can be taught in multiple fun, engaging, and yet impactful ways? Be it during a class lesson, a tier 2 or 3 session, or even a mini lesson, there are a number of activities that can help drive home the point with your students during Bullying Prevention Month.

I love using Bullying Prevention Boom Cards especially as a follow-up to my guidance lesson, in order to assess if my students have in fact learned what I have been trying to teach them. Being a digital resource, this was especially useful when we were all online, but it works well in-person too!

There's nothing quite like learning through play, right? I've used this Bullying Prevention Board Game extensively, through the year, as students learn to identify the different roles in bullying situations, share their own experiences with bullying, and identify solutions to prevent bullying in the future. (There's also this Halloween version if you're reading this in October, Bullying Prevention Month!)

Whenever possible, I opt for tactile activities to do with my kiddos, this Salad Bowl Charades School Counseling Game being my all time favorite. The objective of this timed game for upper elementary students, in particular, is to learn about bullying prevention by correctly guessing the most game cards. Understanding the vocabulary around bullying is an essential step to prevention.

5. Read Aloud Sessions and Book Clubs

One of the most non-threatening ways to initiate conversations with younger students about bullying is to use SEL books that quite literally do the job for you. My favorite bullying prevention books to use are The Recess Queen, The Invisible Boy, Stick and Stone, Tease Monster, The Juice Box Bully, and Cliques Just Don't Make Cents, among a host of others. Depending on how much time you have, and the age and needs of your students, you can choose to have follow-up lessons with them on this topic.

With older students, you could consider running a book club for the month and pick a book that deals with this subject. The Bully, The Bullied And Beyond and He's Not Just Teasing are great books to use. Facilitate the sessions but have students lead. You will be amazed at the depth and direction of the discussions that follow!

6. Debate Competitions 

With upper elementary, middle, and high school students, debates are almost always a hit. Debates on bullying prevention could give you a fair insight into how prevalent bullying is in your school, and how students identify, perceive, and confront situations that involve bullying. Most importantly, debates like this also help you understand possible misconceptions students have about bullying. They can be run independently or as a precursor to your Tier 1 lesson on bullying prevention. This can be done class-wise, across school. You could come up with different topics related to bullying and have students pick a side and speak for or against the topic. It’s a fun perspective shift to have students have to defend an assigned point even if it’s different than their beliefs or experiences.

7. Lock Box

One thing all of us counselors know about bullying is that it often goes unreported simply because a child is too scared to speak up for fear of being identified and bullied again. This is precisely why it isn’t a bad idea to have more ways than one for reporting bullying. I like to keep a locked box in a centrally located space, to which only I have the key. Students can fill out a brief incident report slip and place it in the box. They have the option of identifying themselves or remaining anonymous on the form. This has helped me tackle bullying related issues in specific grade levels. 

On the lookout for low-prep Bullying Prevention Month ideas, lessons, and activities? Check out my Bullying Prevention Bundle that comprises all the resources mentioned in this post. What are some ideas you plan on incorporating in your school this month? Let me know in the comments!

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