Set Policies & Rules

School staff can help prevent bullying by establishing and enforcing school rules and policies that clearly describe how students are expected to treat each other. Consequences for violations of the rules should be clearly defined as well. 

Types of Rules and Policies

There are several types of policies and rules that work to prevent bullying. Each serves a different purpose. For example: 

  • A school mission statement establishes the vision for the school. Everyone should know how they personally help the school achieve this shared goal.
    • Sample Mission Statement
      [Name of School] is committed to each student’s success in learning within a caring, responsive, and safe environment that is free of discrimination, violence, and bullying. Our school works to ensure that all students have the opportunity and support to develop to their fullest potential and share a personal and meaningful bond with people in the school community.
  • A code of conduct describes the positive behaviors expected of the school community. The code of conduct applies to all, sets standards for behavior, and covers a focused set of expected positive behaviors. State laws sometimes specify what must be included in a school’s code of conduct.
  • A student bill of rights includes positive things students can expect at school. Keep it short and easy to remember, so it is useful in day-to-day school life.
    • Sample Student Bill of Rights
      Each student at [school] has a right to:
      • Learn in a safe and friendly place
      • Be treated with respect
      • Receive the help and support of caring adults

Integrating Rules and Policies into a School’s Culture

As you develop or update school rules and policies, have a plan for keeping them relevant and meaningful for students and school staff.

  • Make sure school rules and policies are consistent with state laws and the school district rules and policies.
  • Include school staff, parents, and students when developing rules and policies. Giving students a role can help them set their own climate of respect and responsibility. Parental involvement can reinforce these messages at home.
  • Train school staff on enforcing school rules and policies. Give them the tools to respond to bullying consistently and appropriately.
  • Incorporate rules and policies in day-to-day school interactions. Teachers and students can discuss the rules in class. Students can hold each other accountable. The principal can give an annual “state of the school” speech that reports on the mission.

Establish a Reporting System

Schools can establish clear procedures for reporting rule violations so that reasonable consequences can be given to students when rules are broken. Reporting systems help track individual incidents and responses as well as trends over time.  

Some tips for establishing a reporting system:

  • Make it easy. People are more likely to report when it’s easy to do.
  • Maintain reports in a way that shows emerging problems and patterns over time.
  • Keep reports confidential and private. School staff and students should be encouraged to report violations without fear of retaliation.