​​Restoring relationships

The aims for schools in responding to bullying are:

  • to find a positive solution for everyone
  • to stop it happening again, and
  • to restore the relationships between the students involved.

To restore relationships, a number of well established methods are available to schools.

Regardless of perceived severity, all cases of bullying require attention from the school even if the student being bullied does not appear particularly upset.

Information in this section is used with the kind permission of Bully Stoppers.

The six methods

Australian researcher, Professor Ken Rigby, describes six methods of response:

The choice by the school will depend on the students involved and the situation. This could vary widely, for instance in terms of severity, group involvement and whether there has been any provocation.

Schools should note:

  • each method has its unique strengths and limitations regarding its use in specific cases.
  • training in the application of each of the methods is needed, some more than others.
  • each assumes a whole-​school approach and a well-informed understanding of the reasons each method is suited to particular circumstances.

These six methods are NOT alternatives to taking proactive steps to prevent bullying from occurring.

Good classroom management, class discussions of bullying, social skills training, promoting positive bystander behaviour and developing peer support can reduce the number of bullying incidents.

Factors in choice of method

There are a number of factors that schools should consider to help them determine the most appropriate method to restore relationships:

  • severity and frequency of the bullying
  • impact and harm
  • illegality of the bullying behaviour
  • persistent or repeated behaviour patterns
  • single or group bullying
  • provocation on the part of the person being bullied
  • degree of remorse by the person doing the bullying
  • willingness for mediation by all those involved
  • other supports available to the person being bullied
  • student age
  • capacity of the student's to learn strategies and use problem solving techniques
  • training and expertise of staff to implement
  • support from the school
  • parent engagement.

For more detail, see the book Rigby, K. (2010). Bullying interventions in schools: Six basic methods. Camberwell: ACER.​