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Why Conflict Resolution Alone Isn't Enough to Stop Bullying in Elementary Schools

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

By Kinota Braithwaite, Author and Youth Speaker

Conflict resolution can be a valuable approach for addressing various disagreements and disputes in the classroom.

It involves students finding solutions that satisfy all involved and in a constructive and peaceful manner however it might not always be the best approach when it comes to solving bullying issues.

Here's why:

  1. Power Imbalance: Bullying often involves a power imbalance, where one individual seeks to dominate or harm another. Conflict resolution assumes a relatively equal footing and willingness to negotiate. For example: If a child is being physically intimidated by a bully, conflict resolution might not be effective in addressing the underlying power imbalance making it challenging for the victim to assert their needs effectively.

  2. Safety Concerns: Encouraging a victim to directly communicate with their bully might put the victim at risk of further harm or retaliation. The safety and well-being of the victim should be paramount. Conflict resolution might involve open dialogue between the victim and the bully, which can potentially escalate the situation or cause further harm to the victim.

  3. Repeated Behavior: Conflict resolution aims to resolve a specific conflict and might not address the underlying patterns of bullying behavior. Addressing one instance of name-calling through conflict resolution might not prevent the bully from engaging in further bullying behaviors.

  4. Underreporting: Many victims of bullying hesitate to report the incidents due to fear of retaliation, embarrassment, or concerns about making the situation worse. Relying solely on conflict resolution assumes that victims are comfortable coming forward and discussing their experiences openly.

So, What's the Solution?

While conflict resolution has its place, it's not the sole solution to stop bullying in schools. By adopting a multi-faceted approach that includes prevention, intervention, and support, schools can create a safer and more inclusive environment for all of their students.

Here are some tools and resources

  • Safe Reporting Mechanisms: Provide students with safe and anonymous ways to report bullying incidents to teachers or school administrators.

  • Educational Programs: Implement anti-bullying programs that educate students about the consequences of their actions, empathy, and the importance of treating others with respect.

  • Bystander Intervention: Teach students to be proactive bystanders by encouraging them to speak up when they witness bullying and supporting victims.

  • Restorative Practices: Utilize restorative practices to hold bullies accountable for their actions while providing opportunities for them to understand the impact of their behavior and make amends.

  • Parental Involvement: Engage parents in the process to ensure a collaborative effort between school and home to address bullying effectively.

Let's Start a Dialogue:

Principals, I extend a heartfelt invitation to engage in open conversations. Together, let's address concerns, exchange ideas, and craft experiences that transcend. Let's embark on a journey to enrich minds and create a lasting positive impact on the lives of students.

Warm regards,

Kinota Braithwaite

A Vision for a World Free of Racism and Bullying

You're welcome to connect with me at

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