Bullying: Key Issues and a Call to Action


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Presented at the Dignity for All Conference on October 26, 2011.

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Bullying: Key Issues and a Call to Action

  1. 1. Amanda Nickerson, PhD Associate Professor and Director Dr. Jean Alberti Center for the Prevention of Bullying Abuse and School Violence University at Buffalo [email_address] gse.buffalo.edu / alberticenter Dignity for All Conference Hamburg, NY October 26, 2011
  2. 2. Overview of Presentation <ul><li>Alberti Center Slideshow on Bullying </li></ul><ul><li>Key Issues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can we define and identify bullying? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is bullying inevitable or preventable? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Whose problem is this and what can we do? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Conventional wisdom and the “reframe” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 4. Bullying vs. Teasing vs. Conflict Teasing : Fun, good-natured, “give-and-take” between friends to get both parties to laugh Bullying : Based on a power imbalance; intent to cause psychological or physical harm; usually repeated Conflict : A struggle, dispute, or misunderstanding between two equal forces
  4. 5. Eye of the Beholder <ul><li>Low correspondence between self-report and reports from peers, school staff, parents, and observations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students say bullying happens more than adults </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students over-report being defenders and under-report being bullies </li></ul></ul>
  5. 6. Is bullying inevitable or preventable?
  6. 7. Common, but not “normal” <ul><li>Aggression and survival of the fittest across time, species, and cultures </li></ul><ul><li>Danger in viewing as “rite of passage” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Long-lasting impact of bullying </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We do not tolerate other forms of abuse </li></ul></ul>Boivin, Hymel, & Bukowski (1995); Boulton & Underwood (1992); Crick & Bigbee (1998); Egan & Perry (1998); Hinduja, & Patchin, (2009); Kochenderfer & Ladd (1996); Nickerson & Sltater (2009); Perry et al. (1988)
  7. 8. <ul><li>&quot; For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong .” </li></ul><ul><li>H.L. Mencken </li></ul>
  8. 9. Bully, Target, and Bystander Family School (Staff/Peers ) Culture & Community Adapted from Swearer & Espelage (2004)
  9. 10. Targets: Conventional Wisdom <ul><li>“ Kids need to learn to fight back” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Focusing on the target blames the victim and sends the message that this behavior is OK” </li></ul>
  10. 11. Targets: Reframe <ul><li>Fighting back is an ineffective strategy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Power differential </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What message are we sending? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Focusing on the target is aimed to teach coping skills, not place blame </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to teach skills (assertiveness, emotion management) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This cannot be done in isolation…adult and peer intervention is needed! </li></ul></ul>Farrington & Ttofi, (2009); Gregory, Cornell, Fan, Sheras, & Shih (2010)
  11. 12. Bullies: Conventional Wisdom <ul><li>“ Bullies are loners who suffer from low self-esteem” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Bullies need harsher punishment” </li></ul>
  12. 13. Bullies: Reframe <ul><li>Children who bully often have a high social status and average to superior self-esteem </li></ul><ul><li>Children who bully are likely to be exposed to harsh or corporal punishment </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on logical, meaningful consequences </li></ul><ul><li>Teach empathy, perspective taking, and using power in a more productive way </li></ul>Batsche & Knoff (1994); Beaver, Perron, & Howard, (2010); Olweus (1993); Swearer et al. (in press); Vaughn, Bender, DeLisi, (in press)
  13. 14. Bystanders: Conventional Wisdom <ul><li>“ Peers need to stand up and say this is not right” </li></ul>
  14. 15. Bystanders: Reframe <ul><li>The bystander effect is pervasive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Diffusion of responsibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost (time, effort, personal distress) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perceptions about target (“just world,” deserved) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Students need </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explicit instruction about how to intervene </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Recognizing situation as bullying </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Identifying safest and best way to respond </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Enacting response </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In a climate where upstanding is expected </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Charach et al. (1995); Hawkins, Pepler, & Craig </li></ul></ul>
  15. 16. Parents: Conventional Wisdom <ul><li>“ Parents need to wake up ” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” </li></ul>
  16. 17. Parents: Reframe <ul><li>Parents need to be aware of bullying </li></ul><ul><li>Look at one’s own behavior as a model </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Targeting anger and hostility at others </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Using degrading terms (“wimp,” “gay,” “loser”) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Actively supervise and monitor children’s behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Apply logical, meaningful consequences </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage empathy and problem-solving </li></ul><ul><li>Work with school and others to be part of the solution </li></ul>Farrington & Ttofi, (2009); Gregory, Cornell, Fan, Sheras, & Shih (2010); Koth, Bradshaw, & Leaf, (2008); Olweus (1993); Olweus, Limber, & Mihalic (1999)
  17. 18. School Staff: Conventional Wisdom <ul><li>“ Schools need to stop turning a blind eye to this and do something” </li></ul>
  18. 19. School Staff: Reframe <ul><li>Adults are often not aware of bullying </li></ul><ul><li>Need a comprehensive approach to expectations for behavior, skill building, and welcoming school climate </li></ul><ul><li>Clear policies are needed that include </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consistent on-the-spot interventions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Method of reporting bullying </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Continuum of consequences, including opportunity for teaching and planning to behave differently in future </li></ul></ul>Merrell, Gueldner, Ross & Isava (2008); Ttofi & Farrington (2011)
  19. 20. Policy Makers and Law Enforcement: Conventional Wisdom <ul><li>“ We need harsher laws to stop this kind of behavior” </li></ul>
  20. 21. Policy Makers and Law Enforcement : Reframe <ul><ul><li>We need carefully developed laws and policy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not reactive or based on emotion </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Provide clarity and guidance for addressing the problem comprehensively </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Are based on research </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Do not create yet another layer of red tape that interferes with schools’ ability to educate kids </li></ul></ul></ul>
  21. 22. Concluding Thoughts <ul><li>“ Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has . ” (Margaret Mead) </li></ul><ul><li>For the rest of the day (and beyond), take the journey to learn ways that you can make a difference. </li></ul>