LSLS – Bullying Prevention Part 3: Tips for Victims of Bullying

Excerpted and adapted from Dr. Lori Ernsperger’s book Recognize, Respond, Report: Preventing and Addressing Bullying of Students with Special Needs, the suggestions shared here will help teachers provide effective support for all kids, no matter which side of the bullying equation they’re on. This is a three-part blog. Part 1 included tips for students who are bystanders. Part 2 included tips for students exhibiting bullying behavior. Part 3 includes tips for students who are victims of bullying.

Part 3 is particularly useful for supporting students with disabilities, who are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their peers.)

Implement modifications and accommodations. These might include preferential seating on the bus, counseling services, increased supervision, speech and language therapy, and regular meetings with team members to ensure that protections from harassment and bullying are being used consistently and effectively.

Amend the IEP or 504 plan. Since so many students with disabilities are bullied, education teams should add the following to a student’s IEP or 504 plan: “If a student is vulnerable to bullying, the team will determine accommodations, services, and interventions that are needed to prevent bullying and obtain a FAPE.” Then, as a team, write measurable goals for teaching the student verbal and nonverbal social skills, self-management, emotion regulation, and self-advocacy skills.

Teach identifying/reporting skills. Ensure that students understand and master the skills for reporting bullying to an adult. Supervise and give feedback when you first teach new skills, and then fade your support over time. Try these structured, multimedia teaching methods:

  • Video modeling. Show students videos of appropriate verbal and nonverbal interactions and imitate the social-communication behavior of the model.
  • Role playing. Have students practice and dramatize social-communication skills in a controlled small group. (Videotape sessions to give students a chance to analyze the interactions and identify key skills.)
  • Scripting. Provide students with short, one- or two-sentence scripts that teach them what to say and do in social situations.
  • Social narratives. Give students clear descriptions of social situations, highlighted with visual icons and symbols to help guide appropriate behavior.
  • Self-monitoringTeach students to record their own behaviors and use a self-assessment to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors during a conflict

Build self-confidence. To empower students and reduce the long-term effects of bullying and harassment, focus on self-advocacy and self-determination. Help students recognize and build on their strengths, and work with them to set goals and pursue interests, hobbies, and activities. You might encourage students to participate in community-based activities (volunteering at a charity, tutoring younger children) to build their self-esteem while giving back to the community.

Check out this Stop Cyber Bullying Guide for tips on how to spot, report, and prevent cyberbullying.


Life Skills Educator? Join our Region 13 Google Community to connect with other Life Skills Educators across our Region and receive tips and resources from your Region 13 Autism and Low Incidence Disabilities Specialists!

Contact:  Darcy Schiller at or 512-919-5224.

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