Anti-bullying programs that are now commonplace in schools may be having the opposite of their intended effect, according to new research from the University of Texas, Arlington.
In a study published in the Journal of Criminology on Thursday, a team of researchers found that students at schools with anti-bullying initiatives are actually more likely to be victims of bullying than students who attend schools without such programs.
The findings contradict the popular belief that anti-bullying programs help prevent physical and emotional bullying. Lead author Seokjin Jeong said in a statement that the programs may help students learn what a bully does and looks like, teaching them how to better hide their behaviors.
"The schools with interventions say, 'You shouldn't do this,' or 'you shouldn't do that,'" Jeong said. "But through the programs, the students become highly exposed to what a bully is and they know what to do or say when questioned by parents or teachers."
Additionally, the study says that although bullies may learn a variety of anti-bullying techniques, they may simply choose not to practice what they have learned.
"Sometimes, bullies maintain their dominant social status among peers in school," the study says. "As a result, the preventive strategies may become ineffective."
Jeong and his co-author, Michigan State University doctoral student Byung Hyun Lee, analyzed data from the 2005-06 Health Behavior in School-Aged Children survey, which has been conducted every four years since 1985. Because the HBSC survey preceded other national anti-bullying efforts, such as 2010's "It Gets Better" campaign, the researchers conducted a separate survey of students and school administrators about school climate and violence prevention strategies for comparison. Together, data for more than 7,000 students from 195 different schools were analyzed.
Jeong and Lee suggested that schools should develop "more sophisticated" strategies that go beyond implementing preventive programs and move towards "systemic change within the schools," such as employing guards, using metal detectors or conducting bag and locker searches.
Additionally, the authors said researchers need to do more to identify the dynamics involved between bullies and their victims in order to develop prevention tactics for the problem, which affects more than 70 percent of middle and high school students, according to the American Psychological Association. Research shows that victims of bullying have a much higher risk of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and suicide.
But an increase in the number of reported incidents might not be a bad thing, according to Elizabeth Englander, a psychology professor at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts.
“The devil is in the details,” Englander says. “An increase in the number of cases the school is aware of can actually be a good sign … because if you as the adult become aware of an increased number of cases, it means that more students are reporting. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the actual prevalence is increasing. It may just mean that students are actually doing what you want them to do, which is reporting to adults.”
reply to post by greencmp
I see the logic behind this.
It's much like when criminals go to jail, all you're doing in the end is creating stronger, faster and smarter criminals, who now have connections.
So I can imagine how kids, bullies in particular, would adapt to that situation so they can carry on their behavior. IMO those kids need some hard knocks. I'm not a fan of violence or anything, but a lot of these kids just need to be put in their places and in a big way.
Secondly, kids need to grow thicker skins in general. This whole culture of 'everybody is a winner and I'm a special snowflake' contributes to the problem of kids being overly emotional, and incapable of dealing with conflict on any level.
(From the OP's source) Jeong and Lee suggested that schools should develop "more sophisticated" strategies that go beyond implementing preventive programs and move towards "systemic change within the schools," such as employing guards, using metal detectors or conducting bag and locker searches.
If you're still being a bully by the time you are an adult, there is a problem. I would always put these people in their place even if they were a supervisor at work, I would go over their heads. They certainly would think twice before opening their mouths again.
If you start with your own children at home and then from the first time they enter school and continue in each grade, instill a sense of pride for being a good, compassionate and kind individual and to treat others as you yourself would like to be treated. The parents and then teachers working together would help. Zero tolerance means zero tolerance. Allowing kids to get away with bad behavior like bullying others should not be accepted.
Do nothing and all hell breaks loose. Kids bully other kids. The victoms sometimes comit suicide. Kids are vulnerable. Just how tough skinned can you make them? Hell, have them learn self defense so they can stand up for themselves in a bad situation, but don't allow them to get bullied or be the bully.edit on 10-10-2013 by Night Star because: (no reason given)
(aka central planning).
We know that it doesn't work for smoking
reply to post by greencmp
(aka central planning).
You should probably keep your political biases to yourself..
We know that it doesn't work for smoking
It actually has worked for smoking. Less people are smoking today than 10 years ago.
Overall, it's not surprising. What we call "bullying" is a stand-in for a much deeper, psychological and existential dilemma. One side of us - generally our emotional, egoistic side, feels tempted to dominate others. The other side - the rational and reasonable part - tries to curtail the desires of the ego because it recognizes how damaging it can be.
Perhaps a solution should involve a positive and negative approach; continue the anti-bullying campaigns (it's idiotic to assume kids become more eager to bully after being chastened not to bully) in schools. Increasing awareness, in general, promotes intelligent behavior. On the opposite side, we need to show very little tolerance for bullying. A 3 strike approach. If a kid is seen to be bullying another student 3 times, he should receive a suspension. If he receives another 3 strikes - expel him.
If it's between leniency towards the bully and allowing him to stay in school, or leniency towards the student being bullied, and expelling the bully, the latter is clearly the ethical road to take.
Too often teachers are lazy and complacent when they see bullying in their classrooms.
This problem is not an easy one because there are persuasive arguments for and against. On one side, you have cultural conservatives who invoke the evolutionary biological argument that rationalizes bullying as typical pack behavior: the alpha males pick on those at the bottom of the social order. It's how nature has designed mammalian group dynamics, it's what our biology primes us towards. Baboons and Chimpanzees are notorious exemplars of bullying in primate social systems. On the other hand, Bonobos are gentle, maternalistic primates with far softer features and magnanimous ways of relating. They share more than chips do (Robert Sapolsky would call baboons the assholes of the animal kingdom :cheers
I disagree with those who argue that schools should outlaw every type of aggressive activity: red rover, tag, football, dodgeball, red-ass, etc. are awesome games that most boys grew up playing. I want to preserve these activities in our schools without the testosterone leaking outside the playground into the classroom.
The cause of bullying is obviously related to the emotional excitation of childhood/adolescence and the immature development of the prefrontal cortex - the executive brain - which doesn't reach full maturity till the early 20s. Bullying happens in these years because kids are emotionally charged and lack the intellectual awareness to recognize the damage they can cause other kids. They simply do not understand.
Awareness campaigns are designed to stimulate awareness of what bullying can do to another person via the visceral experience of empathy. Since kids lack the ability to appreciate logical arguments, activists need to increase a kids sense of compassion through a combination of positive and negative imagery.
As for the bullied kids themselves, it's unfortunate that so many kids have to tolerate this. If we want to pride ourselves as being a moral society, decreasing the prevalence of bullying is an important start.
I know a few people (being a developmental psychologist with a focus on developmental trauma, I deal with many adults who've been traumatized by elementary or highschool bullying) who as kids experienced intense bullying; one was very short, another was overweight. Both of these kids came from a dysfunctional household; with the former, the mother was a drunk, father was absent. In the case of the latter, the mother was going through a major depression and the father was stressed out in juggling work and taking care of his sick wife.
It's true that some people believe the bullying they experienced in elementary and highschool to have strengthened them - but many more, the muted, socially outcast ones we don't hear about but who are dependent on governmental social programs - have been traumatized.
Some people can be so lax and blithe when they discuss the "merits" of bullying; it puts "meat" on your bones; and for those who didn't respond with the type of fortitude that they did? They callously dismiss as weaklings be weeded out by natural selection.
If we want to be a moral and ethical society, we need to help the millions of people who till this day suffer the scars of bullying. We need to increase awareness in our schools; we need to increase a sense of compassion and comradery between students. We cannot tolerate this.
Awareness programs ARE good, but we also need to show a little more teeth with kids who consitently bully other kids.