Understanding and Intervening with Students Who Bully


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Presented at the NYSUT See a Bully, Stop a Bully Conference on November 14, 2011.

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  • Adults should treat children AND other adults with respect It is especially important to reinforce peers for making positive comments towards rejected peers Activities for interaction should also be with children with disabilities
  • Despite prevention efforts, bullying may still occur. Peer mediation or conflict resolution is contraindicated in bullying situations due to the power differential between bully and victim.
  • Lamb J, Pepler DJ, Craig WM: Approach to bullying and victimization. Can Fam Physician 2009, 55 (4) : 356-360
  • Understanding and Intervening with Students Who Bully

    1. 1. Amanda Nickerson, PhD Associate Professor and Director Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention University at Buffalo [email_address] gse.buffalo.edu/alberticenter NYSUT “See a Bully, Stop a Bully” November 14, 2011
    2. 2. <ul><li>Bullying: Definition, Types, Prevalence </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding Students who Bully </li></ul><ul><li>Preventing Bullying </li></ul><ul><li>Responding/Intervening </li></ul><ul><li>Working it Through: Case Scenarios </li></ul>
    3. 3. Intentional, usually repeated acts of verbal, physical, or written aggression by a peer (or group of peers) operating from a position of strength or power with the goal of hurting the victim physically or damaging status and/or social reputation Olweus (1978); United States Department of Education (1998)
    4. 4. <ul><li>Physical bullying </li></ul><ul><ul><li>punching, shoving, acts that hurt people </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Verbal bullying </li></ul><ul><ul><li>name calling, making offensive remarks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Indirect bullying </li></ul><ul><ul><li>spreading rumors, excluding, ganging up </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cyber bullying </li></ul><ul><ul><li>willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hinduja & Patchin (2009) </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. 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
    6. 6. <ul><li>Estimates vary WIDELY, but according to student self-report... </li></ul><ul><ul><li>20-25% have bullied at least once </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5-20% bully consistently </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. <ul><li>Pre-K through late high school (and beyond); peaks in middle school </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Physical bullying declines as children get older </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social, verbal, and cyberbullying continue through high school </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Anywhere; most likely in less closely supervised areas </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bus, locker room, playground, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>lunch, hallways, and everywhere </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(for cyberbullying) </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. <ul><li>Boys </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More direct, physical bullying </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bully more frequently than girls </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bully both boys and girls </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Girls </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More indirect </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More subtle, hard to detect, and often occurs in groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tend to target other girls of the same age </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cyberbullying slightly more common than for males </li></ul></ul>Banks (2000); Cook, Williams, Guerra, Kim, & Sadek, (2010); Crick & Grotpeter, (1995); Hinduja & Patchi (2009); Hoover & Oliver, (1996); Nansel et al., (2001); Olweus, (2002); Underwood, (2003)
    9. 10. <ul><li>Desire for power and control </li></ul><ul><li>Get satisfaction from others’ suffering </li></ul><ul><li>Justify their behavior (“he deserved it”) </li></ul><ul><li>Lack empathy </li></ul><ul><li>Have positive views about aggression </li></ul><ul><li>More likely to be depressed </li></ul><ul><li>Engage in other risky and delinquent behaviors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Alcohol and drug use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fighting </li></ul></ul>Batsche & Knoff (1994); Beaver, Perron, & Howard, (2010); Olweus (1993); Swearer et al. (in press); Vaughn, Bender, DeLisi, (in press)
    10. 11. “ Popular ” (Source: Jean Healey, 2006)
    11. 12. <ul><li>Often popular, high social status </li></ul><ul><li>Report average self-esteem and believe they are superior </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most do NOT lack self-esteem </li></ul></ul><ul><li>However, also report being less engaged in school, less supported by others, more depressed </li></ul>
    12. 13. <ul><li>There may be… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Less warmth, involvement, and/or supervision </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of clear, consistent rules </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Harsh/corporal punishment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parental discord </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Domestic violence/child abuse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Olweus, Limber, & Mihalic (1999) </li></ul></ul>
    13. 14. <ul><li>More likely to experience legal or criminal troubles as adults (even after controlling for other risk factors) </li></ul><ul><li>Poor ability to develop and maintain positive relationships in later life </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Andershed, Kerr, & Stattin (2001); Farrington (2009); </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Farrington, & Ttofi (2009, 2011); Oliver, Hoover, & Hazler </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(1994); Olweus (1993); Ttofi & Farrington (2008) </li></ul></ul>
    14. 16. <ul><li>Protective factors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Positive school climate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Involvement in extracurricular activities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supportive family </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Swearer, Espelage, & Napolitano (2009) </li></ul></ul>
    15. 17. <ul><li>Some evidence to support effectiveness of school bullying interventions in enhancing… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Teacher knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Efficacy in intervention skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Behavior in responding to incidences of bullying </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To a lesser extent, reduction of participation of students in bully and victim roles </li></ul></ul>Merrell, Gueldner, Ross, & Isava, 2008 meta-analysis
    16. 18. <ul><li>On average, bullying decreased by 20-30% and victimization 17-20% through the use of school-based interventions </li></ul><ul><li>Best results for programs that are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>intensive and long-lasting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>carefully monitored for fidelity of implementation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>assessed regularly (2x monthly) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>evidence-based </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>inclusive of parent training activities </li></ul></ul>Ttofi & Farrington, 2011 meta-analysis
    17. 19. <ul><li>Studies use mostly student self-report, teacher self-report, and sociometrics </li></ul><ul><li>Not very many true experimental designs </li></ul><ul><li>“ the overarching message is that intervention can succeed, but not enough is known to indicate exactly how and when…” </li></ul>
    18. 20. <ul><li>Brief assemblies or one-day awareness raising events </li></ul><ul><li>Zero-tolerance policies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May result in under-reporting bullying </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited evidence in curbing bullying behavior </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Peer mediation, peer-led conflict resolution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many programs that used this approach actually saw an increase in victimization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grouping children who bully together may actually reinforce this behavior </li></ul></ul>Dodge, Dishion, & Lansford, (2006); Farrington & Ttofi, (2009); Nansel et al., (2001)
    19. 21. <ul><li>Definitions </li></ul><ul><li>Statement about expected behaviors and prohibitions </li></ul><ul><li>Reporting procedure </li></ul><ul><li>Investigation and disciplinary actions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Continuum of consequences and interventions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Training and prevention procedures </li></ul><ul><li>Assistance for target </li></ul><ul><li>See handout of Sample Bullying Policy and Language </li></ul>
    20. 22. <ul><li>Model appropriate interpersonal behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage students to make positive comments towards others </li></ul><ul><li>Create opportunities for popular students and rejected students to work together toward a common goal </li></ul><ul><li>Promote acceptance of individual differences </li></ul><ul><li>Educate children about bullying </li></ul><ul><li>Have anonymous system to report bullying </li></ul><ul><li>Strive for a consistent response from all adults </li></ul>Brown et al.(2001); Coloroso (2003)
    21. 24. <ul><li>Intervene immediately (get assistance if needed) </li></ul><ul><li>Talk to the bully and victim separately </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid peer mediation or conflict resolution </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Report to the proper person </li></ul><ul><li>Consult with other staff members (e.g., teachers, psychologists/counselors, administrators) </li></ul>
    22. 25. <ul><li>Remove from situation </li></ul><ul><li>Expect denial </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on the behavior (not on the person) </li></ul><ul><li>Inform student about consequences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Apologize to victim and make plan for preventing problem in future </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss incident with teacher, administrator, or parent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pay for damaged belongings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spend time in office or another classroom </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lose privilege (e.g., unable to play in sports game) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Communicate with parents </li></ul>
    23. 26. <ul><li>Focus on the behavior (not the person) </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid blaming or judging (expect denial) </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasize how this type of behavior can be a problem for their child, the other person, and the school environment </li></ul><ul><li>Inform parent about school response </li></ul><ul><li>Work together to help child behave in other ways </li></ul>
    24. 27. <ul><li>Stay calm </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss the event with your child, but avoid interrogating </li></ul><ul><li>Help child manage emotions and views of others </li></ul><ul><li>Meet and work with your child’s teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Apply clear, meaningful consequences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Loss of privilege, restore/repair damage, plan for changed behavior in future </li></ul></ul>
    25. 28. <ul><li>Encourage use of power for good deeds </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Community service </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Increase supervision and encourage self-monitoring </li></ul><ul><li>Reinforce and reward positive and accepting behaviors </li></ul><ul><li>Look at role models in home and peer group </li></ul><ul><li>Balance high expectations for behavior with warmth and support </li></ul><ul><li>If needed, seek professional counseling for child and family </li></ul>
    26. 29. <ul><li>Bullying others is </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A way of feeling powerful </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A tool for gaining popularity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learned behavior </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rewarded and expected </li></ul></ul>
    27. 30. <ul><li>Functional behavioral assessment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Antecedents, behaviors, consequences </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Psychological assessment (interviews, observations, standardized measures) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Depression </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Anxiety </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Aggression </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cognitive distortions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bullying/victimization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Swearer, Espelage, & Napolitano (2009) </li></ul></ul>
    28. 31. <ul><li>Increase empathy and perspective taking </li></ul><ul><li>Change attitudes towards aggression </li></ul><ul><li>Teach problem-solving to manage emotions </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive restructuring for problematic attributions (e.g., “He deserved it”) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>See Bullying Intervention Program www.targetbully.com/Intervention_Program.php </li></ul></ul>
    29. 32. <ul><li>Form small groups (4-5 people) </li></ul><ul><li>Review case scenarios and discuss answers to questions </li></ul><ul><li>Be prepared to share responses with larger group </li></ul>“ 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