While research has shown that bullying can lead to terrible problems for bullies, victims, and bystanders, studies have also converged to reveal that it is by no means a childhood inevitability. We now know that bullying can be prevented, and we are learning more and more about just how to do so. There are numerous national, state, and local techniques that can be employed to help schools effectively prevent, reduce, and cope with bullying among young people. In this section, we will discuss the following strategies:
Two agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -- the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) -- are now collaborating with numerous partners across the nation to develop and launch evidence-based media campaigns to prevent bullying.
HRSA's National Bullying Prevention Campaign
HRSA's Maternal and Child Health Bureau is developing a new national bullying prevention campaign designed to reach tweens -- 9- through 13-year-old youth -- and the adults who shape their world. This multi-year public awareness and prevention effort is the largest campaign ever designed to reach this age group to help prevent bullying. The campaign will include advice from young people, public service announcements, online materials, bullying prevention resource kits, and a national launch event. It will employ a cast of animated characters to depict bullying scenarios and their resolutions in entertaining "Webisodes" on the Web site. The characters also will appear in the public service announcements.
An integral feature of the National Bullying Prevention Campaign will be the Bullying Prevention Resource Kit. This kit will be the Campaign's central vehicle for disseminating information on bullying and bullying prevention initiatives. Public service announcements and media publicity will encourage interested tweens, teens, and adults to visit the campaign Web site. Visitors coming to the Web site will be directed to the Resource Kit for a comprehensive inventory of existing programs and resources (books, videos, CD-ROMs) on bullying. You are encouraged to visit the Campaign Web site to learn more about this important initiative and to submit information about quality bullying prevention materials for possible inclusion in the kit.
SAMHSA's Bullying Prevention Campaign
15+ Make Time to Listen, Take Time to Talk . . . About Bullying is a
brochure that helps parents understand the range of feelings children may experience about bullying and bullying prevention and provides guidelines
for listening and talking to children appropriately.
Bullying is NOT a Fact of Life: A Guide for Parents/Teachers provides
greater insight into how parents, teachers, or school personnel can talk to
young people about bullying.
Conversation starter cards promote behaviors that protect against bullying
or the potential for becoming a bully. In playing card format, these cards
provide specific questions about bullying that a parent or teacher can discuss with young people.
In addition, SAMHSA has planned four public service announcements with ABC affiliate ABC-7 (WJLA-TV) to be aired during the school year. Parents and other adults are the primary target audience. All public service announcements will include a toll-free number for callers to request copies of print materials.
Acknowledges that if students are to learn and achieve to high standards,
they must feel safe and secure at school
Advises state departments of education to develop model anti-bullying
policies and prevention programs to share with school districts
Mandates individual school districts to develop and implement anti-bullying
policies and/or programs, and to report those policies and programs to the state education department
Recommends that school employees receive training on addressing bullying
behavior in the classroom and on school grounds
Encourages school districts to form an anti-bullying task force, composed of
parents, students, counselors, and law enforcement in addition to school staff
Let's look at how two states are addressing the issue of bullying in schools.
Poteete briefly describes their strategy:
State Senator Herb Rozell, who introduced the bill, said that, while Oklahoma is not the first state to pass an anti-bullying law, "We went a little further with the language in our bill. Our bill goes as far as saying that not just physical violence is considered bullying; we also included gestures and frowns, and fingers can be bullying." The bill passed without opposition in the State Legislature, and schools were given until November 1, 2002, to put their policies in place.
This law requires that every school district have consistent (though not identical) policies regarding bullying in place by September 2003 that include definitions, consequences, and procedures for reporting and investigating incidents. The Commissioner of Education released a model policy on December 1, 2002 that specifically includes protection for groups defined by "race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical, or sensory handicap, or by any other distinguishing characteristic."
Preventing Discrimination Against LGBT Students
The New Jersey policy mentioned above includes language specific to the protection of LGBT students. Since this population is at particularly high risk for all forms of bullying, as mentioned on the first day of this event, it is important to consider some issues specific to this group when drafting an anti-bullying policy. First, consider the difference between harassment and discrimination: While prohibiting harassment is certainly an important and helpful step, a broader prohibition that extends to discrimination will provide even greater protection for LGBT students -- and all other students, for that matter. For example, an anti-harassment policy would not protect an LGBT student if he or she were barred by a school official from participating in a school competition due to concerns that the student's presence might reflect badly on the school. An anti-discrimination prohibition, on the other hand, has a much better chance of addressing this unfair action.
Furthermore, many students are victimized because they are perceived to be lesbian, gay, or bisexual even if they are not, or even if their sexual orientation is unknown. This type of discrimination is clearly wrong and harmful as well, and policies and laws should explicitly address this issue by defining sexual orientation as "actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality." It is also important to include language specific to the protection of transgender students, who often suffer discrimination because of their gender identities. For example, a policy or law could clarify that the definition of "sex" and/or "gender" includes "gender identity" or could amend the definition of "sexual orientation" to include "gender identity."
Although most state legislation proposes a number of criteria for schools and districts to follow when developing anti-bullying programs and policies, it also strongly recommends that local prevention activities be developed in collaboration with parents, teachers, school staff, volunteers, students, administrators, and community members. As with any legislation directed toward schools, providing opportunities for local input and involvement is likely to create greater support for prevention activities than mandating a strict course of action. According to Ron Slaby, senior scientist at Education Development Center, Inc., the following are 10 core characteristics of effective bullying prevention programs and related policies that school and community members should keep in mind when creating their initiative:
Evidence-Based: The program should be built upon principles of science and
supported by scientifically valid evidence of effectiveness. It should be replicable, accountable, and open to modification based on research evidence.
Buy-In: The program should motivate participants and other stakeholders to
believe that bullying is a serious and preventable problem, that the specific program selected will work, and that they themselves can make a difference.
Support for Implementation: The program should provide a systematic
method, curricular materials, and useful tools for staff training, program delivery, and program maintenance.
User-Friendly: The program should present strategies that are clear, relevant,
and comprehensible to both teachers and students. In order to achieve a high degree of user-friendliness, the strategies should be developed and revised through formative evaluation based on user feedback.
Practice: The program should offer structured and repeated opportunities for
students to apply and adapt new habits of thought and action -- both during training sessions and at other times (e.g., through modeling, role-playing, and giving corrective feedback to self and others).
Bystander Involvement: The program should engage bystanders, as well as
bullies and victims. It should address shared beliefs that support bullying, promote awareness of the influence that bystanders can have, break the "code of silence," and provide support for safe and effective bystander involvement.
Mutual Commitment and Responsibility: The program and its supporting
policy should call upon all members of the school and community to redefine their shared commitment and responsibility toward bullying. This includes adopting a proactive bystander strategy, practicing the ideals of participatory democracy, and calling upon an infusion (rather than a diffusion) of responsibility for everyone.
Sustainability: The program and its supporting policy should empower
participants to broaden and sustain prevention activities -- developing support systems at all levels, and turning limited interventions into a broad schoolwide philosophy.
Federal agencies and other national organizations have recently undertaken large-scale reviews of the numerous prevention programs that are currently available to schools and communities. These initiatives have established strict criteria, similar to those described above, for assessing the quality and effectiveness of programs. The following are just a few of the programs that have been identified by these important review efforts as potentially effective in addressing the problem of bullying among young people. To learn more about the programs listed here, as well as other high-quality programs identified by federal and national reviews, visit this event's Resources & Links section.
Aggressors, Victims, and Bystanders (AVB): Thinking and Acting to Prevent
Violence has been designated a "promising program" by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. AVB is one of the Teenage Health Teaching Modules. This set of modules as a whole was also designated a "promising program" by the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools and by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as well as a "select program" by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). AVB is typically delivered in 12 classroom sessions, and it emphasizes the critical role of bystanders in preventing bullying and other forms of school violence. At the heart of the program is the "Think-First Model of Conflict Resolution," which includes the following steps: (1) keep cool, (2) size up the situation, (3) think it through, and (4) do the right thing. Students are provided with opportunities, in small and large groups, to practice all four steps.
Don't Laugh at Me was developed as a joint project between Operation
Respect, a non-profit organization founded by Peter Yarrow of the folk group
Peter, Paul & Mary, and Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR). Linda Lantieri, who developed ESR's Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP), was the principal program designer, and RCCP has been recognized as a "select program" by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Don't Laugh at Me is a series of programs (one for grades 2 through 5, another for grades 6 through 8, and a third for summer camps and after-school programs) that use inspiring music and video, along with curriculum guides based on those of RCCP. This series deals intensively with the need to address issues of difference among students.
The Incredible Years (TIY) has been designated a "model program" by both the
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Blueprints
for Violence Prevention Initiative at the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. Functioning on the premise that the best time to teach children to control their aggression is when they are first learning aggression, TIY was first designed for children aged 2 to 8 with high levels of aggressive behavior. In the original version of this program, parents and children were trained in problem-solving and non-aggressive social skills. This program has also tested positively as a broader anti-aggression program for a general audience of children in preschool and early elementary school. In this version, the program serves all children in a classroom rather than targeting only the troubled children and their parents. TIY counselors train parents, teachers, and family service workers to promote and support positive behaviors among children.
Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT), a 10-week anti-
aggression program, has been designated a "promising program" by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Blueprints for Violence Prevention initiative at the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. This program has three major components: (a) classroom-based problem-solving and social skills training for students, (b) parent training, and (c) playground-based behavior modification. Students learn new skills and parents learn how to support and reinforce those skills, which are tested on the playground. Adult monitors reward individuals and groups who practice positive behaviors and reduce privileges in response to aggressive behaviors. The goal is to promote social coping strategies among students and create an environment in which parents, teachers, and peers work together to help prevent aggression and bullying.
Steps to Respect was developed by the Committee for Children as a
supplement to their Second Step program, which has been designated an "exemplary program" by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, a "model program" by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and a "select program" by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). This program trains adults to effectively deal with bullying while teaching skills to help children develop healthy relationships and decrease bullying behavior. Language arts and social and emotional learning are combined in the curriculum's literature lessons, which are based on popular children's books.
The programs described here are valuable additions to any school's efforts to create a safe and comfortable learning environment for students. They all have the potential to be implemented within the context of a comprehensive school safety program, and some even include elements that extend beyond the classroom -- such as parent training and information for school administrators. However, as valuable as these programs are, none of them are actually considered comprehensive bullying prevention programs. The Bullying Prevention Program, developed by Dan Olweus, is a well-researched and widely-used comprehensive program that has been designated a "model program" by both the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Blueprints for Violence Prevention initiative at the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. This program will be the focus of tomorrow's session on the need for a comprehensive approach to the prevention of bullying.
Now that we have examined various bullying prevention strategies -- including educational campaigns, state anti-bullying legislation and policies, and school-based programs, we will go on tomorrow to explore the need for and components of a comprehensive approach to the prevention of bullying problems at school. First, we will briefly review two comprehensive school improvement programs that have been widely recognized in federal and national reviews. Next, we will look closely at the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program as an exemplar of a comprehensive bullying prevention initiative. Finally, we will explore some bullying prevention action steps for school administrators, teachers, parents, and students.
Day 3 Youth Artwork:
2. Bullying Should Not Be Allowed: This picture is from the Chill Out Space of the Bullying.
No Way! Web site.
Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. Blueprints for Violence Prevention. Available on-line at: www.colorado.edu/cspv/blueprints/index.html. Retrieved January, 2004.
Colbert, D. (2003). An End to Bullying: SAMHSA Expands 15+ Program. SAMHSA News, 11 (4). Available on-line at: www.samhsa.gov/news/Newsletter/VolumeXI_4/article6.htm. Retrieved January, 2004.
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (2003). Safe and Sound: An Education Leader's Guide to Evidence-Based Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs. Available on-line at: www.casel.org/projects_products/safeandsound2.php. Retrieved January, 2004.
Health Resources and Services Administration. Bullying Resource Submission Site. Available on-line at: www.bullyingresources.org/. Retrieved January, 2004.
Limber, S. P. (2003). Implementation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program: Lessons Learned from the Field. In D. Espelage & S. Swearer (Eds.) Bullying in American Schools: A Social-Ecological Perspective (pp. 351-364). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Schoolwide Prevention of Bullying. Available on-line at: www.nwrel.org/request/dec01/foreword.html. Retrieved January, 2004.
Olweus, D. (2002). Bully Prevention: Research and Strategies. Presentation audiotaped at the 2nd National Technical Assistance Meeting: Leave No Child Behind, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Washington, DC, August. [A.V.E.R. Associates, 6974 Ducketts Lane, Elkridge, MD 21075; 410-796-8940].
Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program. Safe, Disciplined, and Drug-Free Expert Panel. Available on-line at: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/exemplary01/panel.html?exp=0. Retrieved January, 2004.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA Model Programs: Effective Substance Abuse and Mental Health Programs for Every Community. Available on-line at: modelprograms.samhsa.gov/. Retrieved January, 2004.
Vossekuil, B., Fein, R. A., Reddy, M., Borum, R., & Modzeleski, W. (2002). The Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications for the Prevention of School Attacks in the United States. Available on-line at: www.secretservice.gov/ntac/ssi_final_report.pdf. Retrieved January, 2004.
Zehr, M.A. (May 16, 2001). Legislatures Take on Bullies with New Laws. Education Week, 20(36), 18, 22.