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Bullying Prevention For Sport Teams

A school district's board members expect to address a teen's suicide and the issue of bullying at its next meeting. 

The 13-year-old suicide victim was small for his age and had endured harassment and bullying during most of his school years. The day before his suicide, his friend and football teammate overheard other team members tell the boy to "go kill yourself." The friend asked if he was okay, and although teary-eyed, the boy responded, "Yes, I'm tough. I'll get through this."

The parents state both family and friends have tried to stop the bullying, including talking with school administrators. However, the harassment continued. 

The boy's father believes school administrators are failing to appropriately respond to a student who comes forward to report harassment and that schools must do more than organize assemblies about bullying. Ben Nandy "Update: Large turnout at Minford BOE meeting in light of teen's suicide," www.wboy.com (Jul. 30, 2014).

Commentary and Checklist

Bullyingstatistics.org reports bullying victims are two to nine times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims. 

The above case illustrates the importance of an adequate response by school staff to incidents of harassment or bullying. Although bullying prevention begins with educating students through assemblies and other programs, just as important is how school administrators work to resolve bullying situations. 

Often the failure to respond is simply because no one knows what to do. Creating specific policies and procedures is essential for effectively managing incidents of bullying. 

All teachers, staff, and volunteers need to be trained, not only on school policies and procedures, but also on effective ways to recognize and intervene when bullying occurs. The above story relates to harassment the boy endured during football practices; it shows that bullying behaviors extend beyond the classroom. Coaches play a key role in preventing bullying, and they need to be included in a school's bully prevention program and training.

Stopbullying.org offers suggestions for coaches and other extra-curricular leaders on preventing bullying and encouraging a positive environment:

  • Stay involved in and support your school's bullying prevention programs and follow school policies and procedures regarding bullying.
  • Learn the warning signs and effects of bullying and understand how best to intervene when needed.
  • Make it clear to all athletes and parents that bullying is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
  • Closely supervise the youth in your care, and respond immediately if you suspect harassment is occurring.
  • Engage the athletes in your efforts to prevent bullying, and help them to understand their role in bullying prevention.
  • Be a support to parents and work with them to end bullying situations. This should include a follow-up to make sure the bullying has stopped.