Discussion Summary: Day 4

Thank you all for your contributions to this week's online discussion about the nature and prevention of bullying. Your comments were interesting, informative, and insightful! Please be sure to explore the Additional Resources found in the Resources & Links section to learn more about bullying at school, and make sure to continue your conversations about this important topic in the Discussion Area of the National Training Center's Web site.

Click here for the Day 1 discussion summary.

Click here for the Day 2 discussion summary.

Click here for the Day 3 discussion summary.

Below is a summary of your discussion from Day 4 of this event.

Participants had a very active discussion about many of the different issues that arise and need to be addressed when trying to create a school-based bullying prevention initiative. The following are just some of the interesting ideas that emerged from this discussion:

 Make sure that school staff are on the same page and really understand
the nature of the problem:

“I don't know if we have to call it bullying in order to stop it. Even if all of the teachers don't agree what bullying is, we all agree that certain behaviors Name calling, hitting, shoving, and lying are mean or violent. We all agree that those are against the rules and that there are consequences for them.”

“My district has little consistency where bullying is concerned but I honestly feel that administration is beginning to understand the importance of addressing this issue. Although the term 'bully' is not widely used, the actions that are discussed at discipline meetings, administrative meetings, policy meetings, etc. center around bullying behaviors. Calling the behavior what it is is the first step. It needs to be part of our vocabulary before we can expect the students to use it.”

 Find a way to help the bullies:

“The one thing that is lacking from this program is counseling for the bullies. I know that you should not counsel bullies in a group setting, but how should you counsel them. Do any of your programs have a plan for this?”

 Make sure to support the victim:

“After trying for over a year to crack down on bullying, I changed my direction. Support the victim. The victim needs us to restore their self-confidence.”

 Enforce bullying-related policies:

“My state has Bully laws on the books as does the school I'm at but like you stated, the enforcement is a different story. It is inconsistent, biased in some instances and has affected the climate of our school. There doesn't seem to be a benefit if nothing is enforced consistently.”

 Make sure that young people are able to think critically about the images
they see in the media:

“With the media examples of humor we often see that it is more important to "put someone down" instead of using positive and actually funny humor. Too many times women are portrayed as a wife who is making fun of her husband's inadequacies or her children's faults. Men are often left looking like idiots for the sake of humor. We see primetime sitcom's regularly making fun of and ridiculing others, all in the name of humor. How difficult is it for children to take that a step further and "put down" kids at school or neighborhood? Then the next step is to use their new found knowledge and strength to further bully others.”

 Engage the school nurse:

“The nurse is a crucial part that is often forgotten. If you were a student and you were hurt by a bully and you didn't want to tell anyone, you would probably still want to get out of class and treat your injury. Teachers rarely deny middle schooler's requests to go to the nurse (probably because teachers do not want someone throwing up or bleeding in their class).”

 Make it clear that bullying will not be solved by another “add-on” program.
The entire school community needs to be involved in order to effectively address the problem of bullying among young people.

"I'm concerned on how do you change administration/staff paradigm that throwing another PROGRAM at a problem will not improve the bullying issue that schools need to address. We know that success requires extensive and coordinated efforts, ongoing efforts through the grades, and are integrated with the curriculum and discipline policies."

"As of today my school doesn't have any improvement or bullying prevention programs in place, but the administration is aggressively seeking committee members who are committed to change. Again, the biggest obstacle to improving school climate, discipline issues, and bullying prevention is to get the key stakeholders to acknowledge that the solution will require some changes for everyone."

"The packaged programs that have proven effective and have name recognition cannot be expected to show the school climate change without support and participation of school leaders, mandated staff training, and booster lessons after the initial implementation. The core milieu on the campus is established in the classroom. This is followed by student interactions with other staff. Teaching staff, administrators, and support staff (including custodial, cafeteria, and clerical) need to establish on their campus a family atmosphere where everyone believes that they have an influence on each other and on the students. If a student forms an impression that the school cares, efficacy of the program has to improve. Once the student cares, the message is more likely to be heard and aberrant behavior decreased."

One participant shared the following story, which highlights the importance of raising awareness among school personnel:

“I recently found a student in the cafeteria that was visibly upset and angry. When I asked him where his buddy that he usually sits with was he responded, “Out buying more ammo”. Needless to say I was taken aback by this response and sat down to inquire more. It turned out that he was being bullied on a daily basis. He reported, that he had approached multiple teachers about it and all refused to get involved or to investigate the situation. I went to the guidance department to try and get help for this student and I was told two disturbing answers: 1. He brings it on himself and 2. I don't have time to deal with that now. Thank god for the intern who has been working with him 2-3 times a week. It also happens that independent of the above situation, the assistant principal was made aware of a racially motivated bullying occurring to our Hispanic students. When she approached the guidance department she also was met with resistance to intervene. Thank goodness she used her position to start the ball rolling and asked them to work with the intern and myself to in-service staff and initiated group counseling for both the bullies and victims.”

Look beyond the school walls to create a comprehensive approach to
bullying problems among youth:

“I liked the addition of a community action plan that includes the faith community. Many teens turn to their faith community for their positive messages and who better to carry that message to school as concerned bystanders? We have a great force for good when we involve not only the schools but the parents, business members and faith community in anti-bully activities. As adults we should know what is right. Our students are looking to do what is right in their treatment of others. We need strong mentors in the schools, communities and media to help lead the way for our young children. Without our involvement and concern there will be no change.”

“Many in our community (schools, organizations, businesses, neighborhoods, police, emergency service workers, county and state officials) have a close and open communication and the potential to address the threats that bullying pose to our society, but in order to make a huge impact, our challenge is going to be to get the parents and teachers to come out in numbers and support programs that directly recognize the ramifications that bully can create in our society. I truly believe if we reach the parents of the children that are bullying and also being victimized, and we educate them on how to be "active" intervention role models, we will then reach a milestone in making an even bigger impact on the subject of bullying.”

Participants also shared some comments about how they have already used and plan to use the information from this event to help shape their schools' bullying prevention efforts.

“I have gotten a lot of great ideas from the info and discussions this week and have been just throwing lines to various staff members and am discovering, to my delight, that they want to know more. Our staff lunch conversation yesterday was centered around the topic and we had a very good discussion about the 'administrators bullying staff' idea that someone posted yesterday. I am getting closer to putting bullying on our radar screen!”

“This online event has been so valuable to the attention of implementing an anti bullying program. The overview and steps to conduct a comprehensive program implementation has provided motivation and knowledge to get started. Thanks. I will be meeting with the school administrators today to discuss a comprehensive anti bullying plan. I will be looking at purchasing an evidence based program such as Olweus Bullying Prevention Program."

“I found today's topic very helpful as I have a need to integrate either existing and/or piloted programs (Get Real About Violence; Safe School Ambassadors; Project Alert; TAPP; Sex Ed etc). Right now there is a concern that our existing programs are splintered and isolated from each other. I have ordered the Olweus Program and have hopes to use it not only as a school-wide antibullying program but as a way to integrate all prevention programs under one umbrella.”

“Great tips! Today's info is perfect timing. I just spent three hours with our school admin and guidance discussing our bullying policy. At times I think we are so ahead of ourselves, then days like this, I feel there is much more work to be dome. It is amazing the amount of work that needs to go into this to be successful. There are so many different possibilities to work with. But I guess that is the nature of the beast...bullying is a complicated issue, therefore solutions will be complicated! I am going to use some of the tips for teachers during the upcoming staff training. Thank you!”