In addressing school personnel or parents that don’t believe certain behavior is bullying, it’s important to remind them that “bullying” behaviors falls on a spectrum. A child may not perceive a situation the same as an adult, and some children are effected by a level of bullying that may not affect another child.
Cyberbullying: bullying behavior which occurs in “virtual” setting (Web sites, emails, social networking sites, etc.)Feinberg states that recognizing bullying behaviors at the school becomes the greater challenge in prevention Garringer says some antibullying programs in schools 1) use group interventions, which simply brings groups of aggressive students together and reinforces behavior OR 2) they establish a zero-tolerance policy (which is shown to be ineffective)
Dan Olweus’ approaches to bullying have shown to reduce bullying by 50% (Feinberg, 2003)
It’s important to note the sustained supports for child and family since the bullying behaviors can continue across many years for some of the students. Also, as the student ages and matures, the supports in place may need to advance or be modified.
These guidelines by Olweus can assist when selecting an anti-bulling program or when proactively addressing areas in the current program that are lacking or insufficient. Coordinating with other schools in your district is particularly important since it benefits children to have consistency in anti-bullying messages/culture as they transition between elementary-middle-high school. Studies show bullying behaviors are elevated during the transition from elementary to middle school (early adolescence) (Garringer, 2008). When assessing the problem, look at “prevalence, attitudes, knowledge, gaps in perception” and specific problem aspects to target (i.e. does it happen more often is specific locations? Are behaviors more overt or is Cyber bulling taking place?)In selecting members for the team, look for people who are a) knowledgeable about bullying b) respected c) Communicate well and build consensus In regards to the school community, since teachers, students and parents may be skeptical or resistant, ask for regular feedback and supply consistent information.
Conduct Code should include following values: empathy, caring, respect, fairness, personal responsibility (Feinberg, 2003, p. 11). The code should apply to students and adults, be posted around school, and have age-appropriate language.Consequences should be clearly defined for students and should not only include the specified punishment, but interventions that teach positive behaviors and self-management skills.Responsibility can be built by letting students participating in creating the conduct code, contribute to activities, and take part in conflict resolution or mediations.Set up a nonthreatening way to report bullying, providing certain adults in the school community who can be contacts (although all adults are available if needed).Training includes identifying/responding to bullying, as well as modeling problem-solving; personnel should also know victimization signs and how to communicate with victims and their familiesCultural needs: Note whether a language discrepancy exists and provide information in other languages if needed to students and familiesAdult supervision should be visual and vigilant- particularly in and around busesPrevention activities build energy and community cohesiveness, as well as reinforce the ant-bullying message and remind all that they play a part in prevention and intervention.
Skills and values to teach in the classroom include empathy, impulse control, standing up for other people or certain causes. They discuss helping the children see how their learned skills and values apply to the school environment and outside social world. Children should learn about emotional awareness, seeing the perspective of others, and problem-solving through strategies such as adult modeling, practice and discussion. Conflict resolution: Solving their own problems provides a way to redirect negative behaviors to positive problem resolution skills. Parent meetings: Discussion with parents helps to reinforce behaviors/expectations in both home and school environment and build an anti-bullying community.
According to Feinberg, 2003, adults should first meet with victim, then bully, then bystanders (“name the behavior, reiterate the rules, and review expected behaviors” p. 13). Adults should identify a bullying pattern (if any) and devise appropriate follow-up and/or observation activities. In determining why the behavior occurred, the adult can identify if certain social skills or problem-solving abilities need teaching or reinforcement (can also identify more severe problems, such as abuse at home or depression). According to Feinberg’s 2003 article, when working with bullies, it may be appropriate to identify thinking errors and support impulse-control or calming strategies. Victims may need help with reading social cues, walking away, or avoiding actions that may provoke a bully. For bystanders, they need to learn to assist victims and intervene when appropriate.Assisting Parents: It may be appropriate to recommend family counseling or other assistance to teach different methods for discipline or communication. Include off-campus bullying in the code of conduct and encourage and elicit help from students/adults in reporting behavior. Internet service providers can be contacted when needed to track the source of cyber-bullying.
According to Garringer (2008), harsh punishment should be avoided as it will often lead to resentment and reprisal (often causing additional trouble for the victim).
Interventions are available that discuss scripts to provide to victim’s to assist in talking with bullies (responding to their insults without showing a rise in emotions-thus, lessoning the bully’s desire to continue). However, according to Garringer (2008), you shouldn’t put the task of responding, ignoring or confronting the bully on the victim. Garringer says asking the victim to confront the bully ignores the power imbalance that led the child to be a victim in the first place. He feels putting the responsibility on the victim makes the child feel isolated and unsupported by adults.
Recommended Intervention Guidelines and Specific Intervention Strategies Presentation by Debbie Bassett
“Spectrum of aggressive behaviors ranging from overt acts of physical violence to far more subtle, yet equally destructive, patterns of verbal or relational cruelty” (Feinberg, 2003, p. 10) Aggressive behaviors (intentional, harmful) from a more powerful person/group continually aimed at a less powerful individual, usually without provocation Links many troublesome school issues (i.e. suicide, academic difficulties, substance abuse) One study showed 44% of students bullied at least once during a school year (Feinberg, 2003; Garringer, 2008)
Consequences for Victims: ◦ Less connected to peers, adults, school ◦ Develop poorer peer relationships ◦ Take part in less extracurricular activities ◦ Experience loneliness, isolation, anxiety, depression 71% of school shooters had been victims Consequences for Bullies: ◦ Depression ◦ High levels of anger ◦ Decreased academic achievement ◦ Negative perceptions of school environment ◦ Frequently victims themselves (bullying or abuse) (Garringer, 2008)
Bullying acts often go unrecognized ◦ Acts are not always the obvious “bullying” activities of hitting/name calling ◦ Bullying is a subtype of aggression shown in various forms (i.e., damaging peer relationships, Cyber-bullying) ◦ Bullies may be socially competent- bullying to retain status in a group Adults not intervening ◦ 25% of teachers report it is unnecessary to step in ◦ Behavior dismissed as “kids will be kids” Adolescents hide social lives from adults Some programs are expensive, difficult to implement, and miss site-specific problem components (Feinberg, 2003; Garringer, 2008; Pepler & Craig, 2011)
Universal Prevention includes: Reinforcing Protective Factors + Reducing Risk Following factors are important in the approach to prevention and intervention (Based on research/work of D. Olweus) School-Wide Foundation ◦ Value System (Caring, respect, personal responsibility) ◦ Positive discipline/supports ◦ Clear behavioral expectations & consequences ◦ Skill development ◦ Greater adult supervision & parent involvement (Feinberg, 2003)
Factors important in the approach to prevention and intervention (continues) Early Interventions ◦ Target specific risk factors for your school ◦ At classroom level, teach positive behavior & critical thinking skills (with lessons, discussions, parent meetings) Intensive one-on-one interventions ◦ Individual support for bullies and victims Meetings with students and parents Counseling Sustained child/family supportsGOAL: “Create a culture in which adults stop all bullying immediately, all studentslearn positive behaviors and become a part of the anti-bullying solution, and the needsof individual students are met” (Feinberg, 2003, p. 10-11)
Coordinate with schools in district (maintain similar plan/culture as students transition between schools) Assess degree of problem Set up a coordinating team (develop/implement activities) Include school community (Feinberg, 2003)
Develop a conduct code with values, acceptable behaviors, and defined consequences Consistently Enforce Consequences ◦ Sanctions + Supportive interventions Help students create a sense of responsibility for their school community “Distinguish between ‘ratting’ and ‘reporting’ All school personnel receives training Be aware of cultural needs Increase adult supervision School-wide prevention activities (Feinberg, 2003, p. 11)
In the classroom, target and teach skills and values Lessons on conflict resolution/peer mediation Conduct Parent Meetings (Feinberg, 2003, p. 12-13)
Create an Intervention/Investigation Protocol Determine underlined cause of bullying behavior Help child determine alternate behaviors and reinforce appropriate behaviors Assist Parents Address off-campus bullying (Feinberg, 2003, p. 12-13)
Bullies have learned to assert their social power in a negative, aggressive mannerIntervention Goals: Redirect leadership potential from negative, bully strategies to positive leadership skills/opportunities Support child as they discover positive ways to gain power and status in his/her social group/relations Provide students with “formative, rather than punitive consequences – interventions that provide a clear message that bullying is unacceptable, but that also build awareness, skills, empathy and insights .” Provide appealing alternatives to bullying Examples: (from cite below) • Encourage student to read a story or watch a movie and write about how hurtful bullying can be • Elicit student’s help to implement anti-bully programs in younger grades (Pepler & Craig, 2011, p.2)
Victims not only experience abuse, but may perceive a lack of support frompeers observing the bullying and/or from adults unaware of the issue. Intervention Goals: (from Pepler & Craig, 2011, p.3) Protect victims and help them develop positive connections with peers and a trusted adult. Assess the child’s individual and relationship strengths and weaknesses (Including: Social and assertiveness skills, Emotional/behavioral regulation, Internalizing problems) Provide social skills programs Aim to provide moment-to-moment support for victim Examples (in and outside classroom): establish buddies circles of support peer mentors ways to highlight the victimized child’s talents for others to see Aim to provide moment-to-moment support for victim, teachers, peers
Peers can be coached in taking a stand and intervening when bullying occurs. Children may need scripts for what to say and do to intervene in a positive way. When more than one child steps in, it can help shift the balance of power away from the bully. The key is for adults to establish conditions in which children feel responsible. Children need to feel safe and to be encouraged to take the risk of speaking out against bullying. Adults who listen respectfully and respond with relationship solutions will facilitate the development of social justice and give children the power to act. (Information taken directly from Pepler & Craig, 2011, p. 4)
Uphold strict, close monitoring of on-school multi-media technology Block access to particular websites used for uploading/sharing information in a harmful manner Lead seminars/trainings or provide information to parents on cyber-bullying, monitoring suggestions, misuse of home computers or other devices Faculty training on recognizing early signs of cyber- bullying victimization Encourage school personnel to be vigilant about looking for negative information (i.e., pictures, video clips, sound bites) circulating among the students (Cook, Williams, Guerra, & Tuthill, 2007)
The Olweus Bully Prevention Programhttp://wch.uhs.wisc.edu/13-Eval/Tools/Resources/Model%20Programs/Olweus%20Bully.pdf Bully-Proofing Your Middle School (or Elementary School)www.sopriswest.com/swstore/product.asp?sku=454 PeaceBuilderswww.peacebuilders.com PATHS (Providing Alternative Thinking Strategies)www.channing-bete.com/positiveyouth/pages/PATHS/PATHS.html RCCP (Resolving Conflict Creatively Program)http://esrnational.org/professional-services/elementary-school/prevention/resolving-conflict-creatively-program-rccp/ Second Stephttp://www.cfchildren.org/programs/ssp/overview/
Cook, C., Williams, K., Guerra, N., & Tuthill, L. (2007, September). Cyberbulling: What it is and what we can do about it. NASP Communiqué, 36(1), Retrieved from Communiqué Online at http://www.nasponline.org/publications/cq/mocq361cyberbullying.a spxFeinberg, T. (2003, September). Bully prevention and intervention. Principal Leadership, 4(1), 10-14, Retrieved from http://www.nasponline.org/resources/principals/nassp_bullying.aspxGarringer, M. (2008). Case studies in youth mentoring: Bullying prevention and intervention. Retrieved from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug-Free schools, Mentoring Resource Center at http://educationnorthwest.org/webfm_send/297Pepler, D., & Craig, W. (2011). Bulling, interventions and the role of adults. Retrieved from education.com at http://www.education.com/reference/article/role-of-adults-in- preventing-bullying/