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    By Julianne

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    Do you know which students are involved? Are you sure enough to confront them? Just because you haven't caught them in the act doesn't mean you have to do nothing. If you are fairly sure of who they are, bring them together at recess and discuss the situation. Don't accuse or ask if they are doing it. Assume that you are correct. Explain again the rules you have against bullying and what the consequences are when someone breaks these rules. Be sure they understand that you will follow through no matter how sneaky they are. Ask them to brainstorm ways they can deal with each other. Have them write out a behavior plan and have each child sign it. It might include things like:

    We promise to follow school rules concerning bullying behavior.
    We understand the consequences of breaking these rules.
    We will treat each student in our class and in our school with respect.
    We will report bullying behavior promptly to the teacher or other school authority.

    If they know you are watching them the problem may ease. If not, there are several other steps you could take. You could have another teacher take your class (or do this during a special), then leave and quietly re-enter the classroom at the back to watch how the kids act. Record any bullying behavior you see. You can ask older students to keep an eye on the bullies when they are on the playground and report any rule breaking to you. You can involve your school's counselor or psychologist.

    As to the young man who is standing up for himself, I would take him aside and quietly explain how to deal with bullies. Remind him that often it is the second offense that gets punished. You want him to be safe, so give him some steps he can take to prevent becoming a victim.

    Good luck with this problem. It happens all the time and it is difficult to deal with.

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