|A. Quiz-Test Your Knowledge About Bullying
- True-False Quiz
- Answer explanations
B. Learn About Bullying
- What is bullying?
- What are the different types of bullying?
- How do the characteristics of bullying differ for boys versus girls?
- How widespread is bullying?
- What are the consequences of bullying for children who bully and their
- What are the characteristics of children who bully?
- What are the characteristics of children who are victims of
bullying and harassment?
- What can be done to reduce bullying in my school: A 10 Step Program.
|I A. QUIZ - TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE ABOUT BULLYING
|(Please take this QUIZ and then click EXPLANATION for answers.)
What is your knowledge about bullying? How many myths about bullying do you
hold? After taking this QUIZ, we invite you to consider the most Frequently
Asked Questions (FAQs) about Bullying and the accompanying answers.
- Only boys bully.
- Spreading rumors is a form of bullying.
- Bullies are insecure and have low self-esteem.
- Bullying usually occurs in the absence of peers.
- Bullies have more power than their victims.
- Victims should ignore bullying behaviors and learn to fight back.
- Children will outgrow bullying.
- Telling on a bully will only make the situation worse.
- Teachers intervene often to stop bullying.
- Nothing can be done at schools to reduce bullying.
- Parents are usually aware that their children are bullies.
- The principal of the school is the most critical person in implementing and evaluating a school anti-bullying program.
A.2. CORRECT ANSWERS AND EXPLANATIONS TO BULLYING QUIZ
- FALSE Only boys bully.
Physical bullying by boys is the most common and obvious bullying behavior among students. However, physical, verbal and relational bullying occurs among both boys and girls.
- TRUE Spreading rumors is a form of bullying.
Spreading rumors, name calling, isolating or ostracizing others and causing embarrassment are all forms of bullying that can cause serious long-term consequences. These relational forms of bullying may occur in both girls and boys. Some studies have found a higher incidence of relational aggression in girls.
- FALSE Bullies are insecure and have low self-esteem.
Many children who bully are popular, powerful, have high social status, are socially skillful and they have average or better than average self- esteem; taking particular pride in their aggressive behavior and sense of control over less powerful peers whom they victimize. Bullies may be members of a group where bullying behavior is held in high regard. On the other hand, some children who bully may have poor social skills and experience feelings of being socially anxious or depressed, and bullying is a form of bravado or “emotional toughness.”
- FALSE Bullying usually occurs in the absence of peers.
Peers are present in approximately 85% of bullying episodes in school settings. Over 90% of students report having witnessed instances of bullying in their schools. Bystanders are almost always present, whereas adults rarely witness bullying. Approximately 75% of the time that peers are witnessing bullying, they are reinforcing the child who is bullying with positive attention or by joining in.
- TRUE Bullies have more power than their victims.
Bullies usually choose victims who are physically weaker or different or who have lower social status. However some students both bully themselves and are bullied by others. The children who are both bullies and victims are at highest risk for problems: they are more likely to experience depression and anxiety and more likely to become involved in delinquent behavior.
- FALSE Victims should ignore bullying behaviors and learn to fight back.
Bullying is a reflection of a power imbalance that becomes consolidated through repeated interactions in which children who are victimized are unable to stop the bullying on their own and are in need of the assistance of an adult to protect them. Ignoring bullies by victims, peers and teachers sends the wrong message to bullies that they can continue to act as they have. Victims who fight back have the potential of escalating the power imbalance. Some victims are provocative and can spark bullying, but these children are very few and are in need of help. It is important not to blame the victim and it is essential to ensure that victimized children are protected and safe.
- FALSE Children will outgrow bullying.
Although aggression and bullying decrease as children mature, unless adults or influential peers intervene, bullying is likely to continue and, in some instances, escalates into violence and delinquency. Children considered chronic bullies are likely to persist in such aggressive behavior into adulthood.
- FALSE Telling on a bully will make the situation worse.
Teachers need to teach students the difference between tattling and reporting: Tattling is to get someone into trouble; telling is to get someone out of trouble. A major goal is to establish the school climate and social conditions whereby both victims and bystanders trust teachers enough to report incidents of bullying. Research indicates that children who report being victimized to an adult are less likely to continue being victimized compared to those who do not tell.
- FALSE Teachers intervene often to stop bullying.
Bullying is an “underground” activity that adults often miss. Teachers intervene in only 14% of classroom bullying episodes and in only 4% of playground episodes of bullying. School staff is generally unaware of the episodes of bullying and victimization.
- FALSE Nothing can be done at schools to reduce bullying.
Various school-based interventions reported worldwide have reduced bullying by 15% to 50%. The most successful interventions are ecological involving the entire school staff, parents and community members.
- FALSE Parents are usually aware that their children are bullying others.
Parents are often unaware of the extent of bullying and victimization of their children. Moreover, parents do not usually discuss bullying with their children. Parents need to be active partners in promoting their children’s healthy relationships and preventing bullying.
- TRUE The principal of the school is the most critical person in implementing and evaluating a school bullying prevention program.
While it takes an entire “village” to reduce school violence, a principal who can inspire, demonstrate leadership, and establish a school climate of student and staff responsibility and respect, as compared to a school climate of fear and obedience, has been found to be most effective in reducing bullying. The principal is a key person in setting the tone for discipline in the school.
|I B.1. WHAT IS BULLYING?
Bullying is a relationship problem in which power and aggression are used to cause distress to a vulnerable person. Bullying has been defined as negative physical or verbal actions that have hostile intent, cause distress to victims, are repeated over time, and involve a power differential between a child who bullies and a child who becomes a victim. With repeated bullying, the power relationship between children as bullies and their victims becomes consolidated: bullies increase in power and victims lose power. Children who are being repeatedly bullied become increasingly powerless to defend themselves. Bullying is a form of aggression and is not accidental; it is intended to harm. Bullying affords dominance and social status; it is often rewarded and supported by other children.
Bullying can be distinguished from the usual conflicts between children in that bullying behavior is a combination of aggression and power. Bullies prey on those who cannot or will not defend themselves. Bullying others may give children a sense of power and importance that they cannot obtain as easily through prosocial behaviors.
Bullying most frequently occurs in hallways, bathrooms, gyms, playgrounds, cafeterias, on school buses and in areas that are “unsupervised.” Bullying may also occur in the community on the way to and from school, at the mall and via the Internet. Bullying may occur at home among siblings.
Bullying tends to peak during middle school, especially the first years of middle school (grades 5 to 8). Middle schools make an excellent target population for bullying prevention efforts.
Schools that ignore bullying and antisocial behavior and that provide inconsistent consequences and that do not nurture a sense of school belongingness for students, parents, and staff and inadvertently contribute to the high incidence of bullying. The lack of intervention conveys that bullying is acceptable and can be performed without fear of consequences. Without intervention, the cycle of victimization will intensify.
|I B.2. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BULLYING?
Bullying can take many forms. Bullying can be direct, indirect, physical, verbal, psychological and/or electronic.
Direct (Face-to Face)
- Verbal bullying – name calling, mocking, hurtful teasing, insults, put downs, humiliating, racist or sexist comments, harassment*
- Physical-bullying – shoves, pushes, hitting, beating up,* stealing or damaging property,* assault*
- Psychological bullying – giving dirty looks, uttering threats,* forms of intimidation, extortion*
(*These actions are against the law.)
Indirect (Behind Someone’s Back)
(This is also referred to as relational aggression or social bullying.)
- Gossiping – lowering people’s opinions about the student who is targeted as a victim
- Social aggression – telling people not to be friends with a student who is targeted as a victim, spreading rumors, damaging friendships
- Leaving out - shunning, exclusion
Cyber-bullying (Use of Electronic Technology)
The use of electronic technology as a means of bullying and harassing may involve:
- ending threatening or harassing emails or instant messages
- creating a website that belittles or ridicules another student
- taking unflattering or inappropriate pictures of other students without their permission and sharing them with others or posting them on an internet site
- stealing someone’s password and sending mean messages to others
- tricking someone into sharing sensitive personal information while instant messaging and then forwarding that information to others
- using cell phones to send derogatory, threatening or harassing text messages
See the following websites for information on Cyber-bullying:
The significance and form of bullying change with age. While the proportion of children who use physical aggression declines with age, with maturational development the proportion of children who use verbal and indirect forms of aggression increases during childhood and early adolescence.
Bullying behavior has different meaning and serves different functions at different developmental stages. In Grade 1, bullying is not related to negative peer status; by Grade 3, children who bully are rated negatively by peers. In the later years, there are many different types of children who bully: some are consistently aggressive and unskilled; others may be highly skilled and popular within their peer groups.
See: Rodkin, P.C., & Hodges, E.V. (2003.) Bullies and victims in the peer ecology. Four questions of psychologists and school professionals. School Psychology Review, 32, 384-400.
I B.3. HOW DO THE CHARACTERISTICS OF BULLYING DIFFER FOR BOYS VERSUS GIRLS?
- Boys are generally more aggressive than girls, as is their involvement in delinquent and criminal behavior. On self-report measures, boys report bullying almost three times (3x) more frequently than girls (23% of boys versus 8% of girls). These differences may be biased because girls are disinclined to view relational forms of aggression, such as exclusionary behaviors, as being forms of bullying.
Implication- There is a need to bring the subject of girl's bullying out into the open so there is better recognition.
- Boys have been observed to bully at a rate of 5.2 episodes per hour and girls bully at a rate of 2.7 episodes hourly.
- Although male students are more likely to be in fights, 24% of female students report they had been in physical fights in the previous year and that 7% of these fights took place on school property.
- Males are more likely to be bullies and victims of bullying than females. Males are more likely to be physically bullied, while females are more likely to be verbally and psychologically bullied.
- Girls tend to use indirect aggression involving hostile acts such as gossiping and manipulating others to exclude a victim. Boys have also been found to use relational forms of aggression, but they are more likely to use physical forms of aggression, yelling and assertions of status and dominance.
- Although girls bully less frequently than boys, those girls who do bully regularly, relative to other girls, are as much at risk as highly bullying boys for a variety of adjustment problems.
- Boys and girls report being victimized at relatively similar rates. Girls were equally as likely to fight with boys as with other girls.
- Violent girls report significantly greater rates of victimization and abuse plus a greater likelihood of co-occurring problems with depression, low self-esteem and revictimization than their male counterparts. There is a need to tailor interventions to meet the specific needs of girls and boys.
(See discussion of gender-specific intervention for girls –Earlscourt Girls Connection and on TeachSafeSchools website.)
| I B.4. HOW WIDESPREAD IS BULLYING?
The exact answer to this question is influenced by how bullying is assessed. For instance, if students are asked if they were bullied or if they bullied someone else over a short time frame (e.g. last 5 days versus last 6 weeks,) then a smaller proportion of students report being involved in bullying or victimization. But no matter how bullying is assessed (see Link 3B,) the incidence of bullying worldwide is a very serious problem.
Consider the following research findings:
- Worldwide prevalence rates of bullying in students range from 10% of secondary students to 27% of middle school students. The prevalence of bullying is quite consistent across countries according to the World Health Organization.
- A study of 15,000 U.S. students in grades 6-10 found that 17% of students reported having been bullied “sometimes or more often” during the school year. Approximately, 19% said they bullied others “sometimes or more often” and 6% reported both bullying and being a victim of bullying. Six out of 10 American teenagers witness bullying in school at least once a day.
- It has been estimated that approximately 25% to 30% of school-aged youth are involved in moderate to frequent bullying (13% bully others, 10% being bullied, and 7% report bullying others and being bullied.) In some studies, one out of six children who bullied was also victimized.
- According to observations on elementary school grounds, it has been estimated that students are involved in bullying once every seven (7) minutes.
- Bullying tends to peak during middle school, especially during the first year of middle school. It generally decreases with age.
- Bullying increases when students make transitions to the middle school and high school where the issue of establishing social status in a new peer group is important.
- Some studies report that up to one-half of 6th graders are involved in some level of bullying, victimization, or both as a child who is bullied and victimized.
- The majority of children engage in bullying at some point during their school years, but only a minority have chronic bullying problems. The students who consistently bully at a high rate require substantial support through intervention to shift their style of relating to others.
- It is estimated that 15% to 20% of all students will encounter bullying during their school years.
- Thirty-three percent (33%) of students in grade 9 through grade 12 reported that they had been in physical fights on school property.
- Half of all girls who have been bullied report being harassed by groups of boys.
- One (1) out of every 20 students in public school report that they stayed home in the previous 30 days because of safety issues. It has been estimated that as many as 163,000 students in schools in the U.S. stay home each day because of fear of being a victim of bullying.
- The assessment of bullying is complicated by the fact that both school staff and parents are often unaware of bullying and victimization.
- School staff is generally unaware of the extent of bullying and victimization problems. Eighty percent (80%) of the time school staff do not know that bullying episodes have occurred. This may happen because the majority of bullying episodes are verbal, brief, occur when monitoring is low and over 50% of students do not report such bullying incidents to school staff.
- Parents are also generally unaware of the extent of bullying and victimization problems. This may occur because more than half of their children report that they do not talk to their parents about bullying episodes and parents do not usually initiate such discussions with their children. Moreover, some parents of children who bully may inadvertently support this form of bullying behavior, especially if the parents model the use of power and aggression to resolve conflicts, and if they fail to monitor, set limits and intervene with appropriate consequences for bullying at home.
| I B.5. WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES FOR CHILDREN WHO BULLY AND FOR CHILDREN WHO ARE VICTIMS OF BULLYING?
There are both immediate and long-term consequences for children who bully and for children who are victims.
||Child who Bullies
A. The immediate and long-term consequences of bullying are influenced by frequency, duration, pervasiveness and severity.
(1) How frequently does the bullying occur? Does it occur often in the child’s life?
Is it frequent?
(2) Over what period of time has this child been involved in bullying and/or
victimization? Is it chronic occurring over a long time since early childhood?
(3) In how many different places or relationships do the bullying and/or victimization
occur? Is it pervasive?
(4) How serious is the aggressive behavior and the impact associated with the
bullying? Does it involve serious physical or verbal aggression? Is it severe?
The more frequent, serious, chronic and pervasive (over time and across settings and
relationships), as either a perpetrator, victim, or both, the higher a student’s risk for
psychological and behavioral problems such as depression, anxiety, involvement in
substance abuse and delinquent acts. Students who are involved in frequent, serious,
and pervasive bullying problems are more likely to evidence emotional, behavioral and
Students with a long history of bullying are more likely to be part of a stable group of other bullies. These students will require a comprehensive intervention targeting multiple behaviors in multiple settings that incorporates frequent monitoring.
B. Why should we focus on bullying?
Bullying can have lifelong consequences for both children who bully and children who are victimized by bullying. Bullying also affects the entire school climate. Students who witness bullying can become fearful and develop the belief that the adults are not in control or are uncaring. Consider some of the long-term consequences.
C. Long-term Consequences for Children Who Bully
For youth who continue to bully, the pattern of using aggression to assert power can lead to serious long-term problems.
- Children who bully are four times more likely to engage in delinquent behavior and substance abuse as adolescents compared to those who do not bully.
- Students who bully tend to skip or drop out of school and they are more likely to smoke, drink, get into fights and vandalize.
- Children identified by their peers as bullies by age 8 are six times more likely to be committed for a crime by age 24, and five times more likely than non-bullies to end up with a serious criminal record.
- Sixty (60%) of children who engaged in bullying between grades 6 and 9 have criminal convictions by age 24.
- Bullying in elementary school is related to later sexual harassment and to aggression in adolescent dating relationships; it may establish patterns that lead to later spouse abuse.
- The problems of children who bully carry forward into their parenting. The children of former bullies are at risk of becoming bullies themselves.
- Such bullying behavior may lead to peer rejection and peer avoidance. The incidence of students leaving school before graduation among peer-rejected children is two or three times higher than among children who are not rejected by their peers.
- The lessons learned in bullying within peer relationships generalize to other developmentally significant relationships.
- Most school bullying does not lead to extreme aggression, but research on school shootings indicates that two-thirds of school shooters felt bullied, harassed or threatened by fellow students and in some instances by teachers. The majority of school shooters were motivated by a desire to get even. When students were asked “Who among your fellow students is most likely to become violent in school?” they identified potentially violent classmates as generally being a boy who has been bullied by others, rather than the bully himself. Moreover, school shootings often involve anti-gay bullying.
D. Consequences for Children Who are Victimized
Children who are victimized by their peers (being teased, harassed, bullied) are at greater risk for psychological maladjustment, as well as somatic complaints (e.g. headaches, stomachaches), or physical manifestations of stress, sleep disturbance and poor school performance, than other students. Victimized students often respond to bullying by escaping or engaging in avoidant behavior (not going to school, refuse to attend certain events, running away). Victims of bullying have greater difficulty making friends and are lonelier.
Long-term consequences of repeated victimization may result in low self-esteem, increased anxiety, depression, and even suicidal behavior. Some victims may become bully-victims.
E. Consequences for Children Who both Bully and are Victimized
Bully-victims (students who are both bullies and recipients of bullying) are the children at greatest risk for a range of problems. They tend to experience social isolation, do poorly in school, and engage in problem behaviors such as smoking, drinking, delinquent and criminal behavior. Bully-victims have been found to experience higher levels of depression and anxiety than the bully-only group or the victim-only group.
Such bully-victims may fight back when bullied, which leads to an ongoing pattern of victimization and aggression. They are more likely to have behavioral problems such as ADHD, academic problems, especially reading problems, have poor peer interactions and be disliked by teachers. It has been suggested that the group of bully-victims be treated separately from the bully only or victim only groups of students. This group of students may require mental health services because of the levels of their psychological and social problems.
Some children who bully are Desisters and discontinue bullying as they mature. Desisters may have some protective assets such as positive friendships and relationships with adults (mentors, coaches, parents) who help them move away from using power and aggression in relationships.
|I B.6. WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF CHILDREN WHO BULLY?
Researchers have found that not all children are equally at risk for involvement in bullying and/or victimization. Three groups of students have been identified as:
- Those students who are relatively uninvolved in bullying or victimization (approximately 75% to 80%,) although they may be negatively influenced when they watch bullying occurring;
- Those who are occasionally involved in bullying (approximately 10% - 15%)
- Those who are frequently involved in bullying (more than twice weekly) or have a long-term involvement in bullying (approximately 5% to 10%).
a. What are the characteristics of students who are persistent bullies?
Students who bully are a diverse group.
- Some who bully are popular, well liked, become leaders within a portion of their peer groups. They exhibit some skillfulness and high self-esteem. They tend to engage in aggressive behaviors when there are threats to their “ego.”
- In contrast, some who bully tend to show social deficits, with a strong need to dominate other students, and to get their own way. They are prone to be impulsive, inflexible and easily angered. They are often defiant and aggressive toward adults, including teachers and parents. They show little empathy toward victims. They have difficulty following rules and a low level for tolerating frustration. They evidence a decreasing interest in school.
- If they are boys, they are usually physically stronger than boys in general and tend to have friends who have a positive attitude towards violence.
- Youth who are persistent bullies tend to be bullied at home and exposed to aggressive parental models who evidence a lack of parental supervision and involvement and are overly permissive. Youth with more siblings are more likely to bully in school.
- Bullies tend to have a high level of conduct problems and externalizing behaviors. But bullying is not restricted to children with conduct problems. Observational research in elementary schools found that the level of bullying initiated by children whom teachers identified as aggressive and nonaggressive children was almost identical on the playground. In the classroom the nonaggressive children ceased bullying, whereas the aggressive children continued to bully their peers. Bullies like school less and are less popular with their teachers.
- Youth who both bully and are victims demonstrate even poorer psychological functioning than youth who only bully or are only victimized.
b. What are some signs that a child might be involved in bullying behaviors?
- Teases, threatens, physically hurts other children
- Acquires new toys or objects without explanation
- Seems to have a lot of extra money
- Talks on the phone or chats on the Internet about others’ shortcomings
- Brags about having power over another student
- Bullies or is aggressive with siblings and parents at home
- Is hot-tempered, is impulsive; has a hard time following rules
- Is tough, shows no sympathy toward children who are bullied
- Has been involved in other anti-social activities such as vandalism or stealing
|I B.7. WHO ARE THE VICTIMS OF BULLYING?
In the same way that individuals who bully represent a heterogeneous group, so are the victims of bullying who are as varied in their makeup. In general, victims of peer harassment and bullying tend to be perceived as being “different,” “exceptional,” “marginalized” from their fellow students and/or they behave in a manner that may elicit negative peer reactions. Some of the characteristics of victims that have been identified may be both a consequence, as well as a partial cause of bullying.
Consider the following:
- Victims of bullying tend to be cautious, sensitive, quiet, withdrawn and shy.
- They also tend to be anxious, insecure, unhappy and have low self-esteem.
- Some victimized children engage in behaviors that inadvertently provoke the bully (e.g. cry easily, appear fearful, have few friends)
- Some students are victimized or picked on because they differ in terms of physical deformities, evidence learning disabilities, because of placement in alternative educational or vocational settings, or because of their race, religion, ethnic background and sexual orientation. Victims tend to be smaller and weaker than peers.
- Students who are classified as having emotional and behavioral disorders are 20 times more likely to experience victimization in school and they also have the highest school dropout rate, approaching nearly 50%.
- Victims often do not have a single good friend and they tend to relate better to adults than to peers. Victims of bullying often lack interpersonal skills needed to develop friendships.
- If they are boys, victims of bullying may be physically weaker than their male peers. They may not fit the “macho” social image and not enjoy athletics and tend to be perceived as being “artsy.”
- If they are girls they tend to be less physically attractive than female peers. Girls who develop early and who are seen as attractive are more likely to be sexually harassed by boys.
- In contrast to “passive” victims, there is a group of “provocative victims” who are hot-tempered and show high level of aggression (bully-victims). As noted, this group of students is more likely to be rejected by peers and teachers and evidence the most severe emotional and behavioral disorders.
Studies show that victims have a higher prevalence of overprotective parents or school personnel. As a result, they often fail to develop their own coping skills.
Special Case of Students Who Are Gay and Lesbian
No matter what one’s attitude toward homosexuality, school administrators are responsible for the safety of all students in their school. Consider the data on students who are gay and lesbian who are victimized.
- Research indicates that 31% of gay and lesbian youth are threatened or injured at school each year. For every gay and lesbian youth harassed for being gay, four straight students reported that they were harassed by fellow students because they were perceived as being “gay” or a “lesbian.”
- Eighty percent (80%) of the youth harassed as being gay identified themselves as being heterosexual. It has been estimated that as many as 10% of youth report uncertainty about their sexual orientation.
- Ninety-three (93%) of all students hear anti-gay comments in school. Students with atypical gender behaviors are often singled out for verbal and physical abuse.
- As a result, gay students are five (5) times more likely to skip school over fears about safety. They have a 28% dropout rate from high school. Gay and lesbian youth are more likely to use drugs and alcohol, in part, as a result of homophobia in school and rejection by parents.
- Gay and lesbian youth are two (2) or three (3) times more likely than their heterosexual peers to attempt suicide. Thirty percent (30%) of all suicides among youth (20 and younger) each year are by gay and lesbian youth.
- School shooters are often victims of anti-gay bullying.
There are several very useful references to help reduce bullying toward gay and lesbian
National Mental Health Association
YES Institute of Miami, Florida
Also see LINK - Lessons From Canada where educators must address the government’s decision to legalize the marriage of homosexual couples.
What are the signs that a child is being victimized?
Children who are victimized are often hesitant to tell an adult (i.e., parent, teacher, administrator) about their experiences because of shame, fear of retaliation, and a sense that adults cannot help to solve the problem. Research shows that children who stop being victimized over a one-year period are more likely to have told an adult than those who continued to be victimized. Adults are critical in shifting the power imbalance in bullying and in protecting victimized students. It is important, therefore, to be aware of the signs of victimization and to talk openly with students about these experiences and about the support that adults can provide. Children who are victimized may:
- Lose objects without a reasonable explanation
- Have cuts bruises, scratches
- Come home from school with torn or dirty clothing
- Need extra money
- Need extra treats in lunch bag
- Be hungry after school (when lunch is extorted)
- Be reluctant to go to school and lose interest in school work
- Have headaches, stomachaches, nervousness, difficulty sleeping (doesn’t sleep well, has bad dreams)
- Show significant changes in mood from normal – more angry, sad, fearful, depressed, becoming quiet and passive
- Be concerned about inviting friends over or accepting invitations from friends
- Have few friends
|I B.8. WHAT CAN BE DONE TO REDUCE BULLYING IN MY SCHOOL: A 10 STEP PROGRAM
At the onset of this section on bullying, we enumerated the CORE ELEMENTS of what needs to be considered in a comprehensive approach to reducing bullying. The 10 Step Program is a simplified version of the more detailed blueprint for reducing bullying.
1. Increase the commitment and leadership of the principal to reduce school
violence, bullying and harassment.
Without the principal’s investment and leadership, it is unlikely that any school intervention will work and be sustained. (See LINK to a discussion of
the principal’s responsibilities and ways to implement them)
2. Conduct a Needs Assessment
A recognition that no one intervention program fits all school needs and resources is an important beginning step. Schools differ and bullying and
harassment vary across schools and grade levels. It is critical to conduct a Needs Assessment (See III A) and ongoing assessment for bullying. (See III B)
3. Improve the schools climate and sense of school belongingness for all students.
There is a need to first assess your School’s Climate (See III B8) and discover ways to improve the School Climate and student connectedness. (See V A)
4. Increase teachers’ awareness, commitment and ability to intervene as well as integrate any intervention program into the curriculum and school routines.
Bullying unfolds in a relationship characterized by a power imbalance that makes it increasingly difficult for victimized students to end the bullying on their own. Adults have to play an essential role in protecting victimized children and reducing bullying. It is critical that teachers buy into the intervention program. Train all school personnel (See V C) on ways to identify and intervene in bullying episodes, defuse angry students (See V H), promote positive relationships,foster generalization or transfer of any school-wide programs, and improve classroom management procedures.(See V C2)
5. Implement and evaluate school-wide intervention programs that are evidence-based.
Conduct a careful review of what has been found to work and what programs do not work (See II E). Implement proven programs that assess outcomes on a regular basis (See III E). Anticipate possible barriers that will undermine and interfere with the success of the program; have a “game plan” on how to anticipate and address these potential obstacles. (See III E)
It is not sufficient to work with individual children. Solutions to bullying need to be both systemic and evidence-based.
6. Establish a follow-up intervention with “high-risk” students who do not improve with the school-wide and classroom-based interventions.
Quite simply, some students will require further interventions. The ways to conduct and evaluate these interventions are examined (See II E ) with special programs for high-risk students who bully, are victims of bullying, as well as those at highest risk who are bully-victims.
7. Efforts to bully-proof schools need to include bystander intervention programs that nurture student leadership and involvement.
Peers can play a critical role in supporting bullying and promoting a culture of aggression. But when peers intervene to come to the assistance of victims, they can be equally effective in stopping bullying. Whether it is in the form of bystander intervention programs (See V D), a peer-warning system (See Peer Warning Site) or a peer-mediation program (See site for peer-mediation,) the students’ participation is critical.
8. Involve parents from the outset and provide ongoing training and feedback.
A school-parent partnership is the “glue” that makes bullying programs work and helps to improve the students’ academic performance. The principal needs to take the leadership role in making parent participation a high priority for his/her school (See V B).
9. Improve school safety by addressing the presence of gangs.
The best-intentioned programs can be compromised by the presence of gangs and peer pressure. There is a need to systematically assess for the presence of gang influences on your school campus (See III B9).
10. Develop school-community partnerships that are designed to reduce school violence and bullying/harassment.
As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child” and this is most important when addressing bullying and harassment. Whether the member of the wider community is the School Superintendent (See V J), a member of the media or newspaper reporter who writes stories about school violence and bullying (See V K) there are a number of ways for the community to join with schools to reduce bullying.