Bullying is a problem, and most schools are combating it by implementing zero-tolerance policies. These policies are intended to promote a more safe and welcoming campus culture. But some are now realizing that in addition to policy buy-ins, specific modern school design strategies can be used to discourage peer-on-peer intimidation.
When considering the different benefits of an intelligently designed school, a reduction in bullying probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But that’s exactly what some schools are experiencing. Let’s take a look at some of the things architecture can do to reduce bullying…
Anti-Bullying Design Tactics
The design tactics used to reduce bullying are simple, but can have a strong impact on the overall sense of safety on a school campus. An experienced architect would consider the following and adjust them to fit your school’s specific needs:
Lines of Sight
When you design a space with clear lines of sight, it makes it much easier for teachers to supervise students. By removing dark corners in stairs, hallways and play spaces, it’s possible to reduce the temptation for students to hide or engage in negative activities.
A good practice for existing schools is to use a critical eye and examine the current design elements in a building to see if there are any pockets that might attract trouble. There are lots of design elements that look pleasing, but unknowingly enable negative activity.
Big interior windows make it easy for teachers to supervise classrooms, hallways, and multipurpose spaces. Large exterior windows provide views to outdoor spaces in which students congregate. While there are security concerns about large windows providing too much visibility into classrooms, they can be mitigated by utilizing design features such as blinds or shades, and incorporating safe areas that are out of the line of sight and away from a window.
As simple as it seems, providing the best possible lighting conditions in key areas such as parking lots and entrance areas can also help reduce bullying. Depending on the time of year, mornings and late afternoons can be quite dark. By designing clearly defined, well-lit paths from school drop-off areas to entrances, you can help students feel safe and allow staff to better observe the areas.
Interior lighting can also be important. By adding occupancy sensor lights and making sure every space is well lit, you can allow for better supervision throughout the campus.
When designing learning spaces, it’s important to accommodate different personality types to help every student feel accepted and valued. Large spaces for extroverts, smaller more contemplative study spaces for introverts.
When you give careful consideration to allow for various scaled spaces that offer clear lines of sight to teachers and staff, you can greatly increase student happiness and reduce unnecessary negative experiences on the whole.
While thoughtful architecture can play a role in the reduction of bullying, it’s best when used in conjunction with smart curriculum choices that work in harmony with a school’s design. If you want to decrease bullying, consider partnering with an architect early to identify specific design features that could help reduce bullying in your school!