Group Treatment & Bullying Prevention

While some forms of group treatment -- focusing on anger management, skill-building, empathy-building, or the enhancement of self-esteem -- can be effective for aggressive children, such strategies have the potential to be counterproductive when dealing with bullies. Efforts to boost the self-esteem of bullies (whether done in group or individual sessions) are unlikely to produce positive outcomes since low self-esteem does not seem to be at the root of bullying behavior; instead, research suggests that bullies tend to have average or above average self-esteem. When considering such group interventions for aggressive youth, keep in mind that they have the potential to create bullies who are even more confident and skilled than before the intervention began. At the 2002 OSDFS National Technical Assistance Meeting, Olweus said:

"Any effort to boost a bully's self-confidence or social skill set may result in more effective bullying behavior."

In addition, group treatment with aggressive youth also creates the potential for the behavior of participating students to deteriorate further as group members serve as antisocial role models for one another.