February 13, 2007

Students against bullying

Posted in Bullying, School safety in other places, Student safety, Student violence at 9:24 am by madisonparent

Principals say they can’t help students who are victims of bullying if the victims won’t finger their bullies. Students say they won’t finger their bullies when they expect to be met with an ineffective response by school authorities, followed by retaliation by the bully. Is there a “third way”?

Anti-bullying efforts may be more likely to succeed when student bystanders stand up to the bully and support the victim, as University of South Australia researchers Ken Rigby and Bruce Johnson describe in their article “Playground Heroes” in Greater Good Magazine (via Joanne Jacobs):

Why have anti-bullying programs met with so little success? We suggest two important reasons[:]


The first is that educators have concentrated on encouraging teachers and counselors to watch what is happening and take strong disciplinary action when bullying has occurred. Unfortunately, school authorities are commonly unaware of what is going on.


The second reason why anti-bullying programs often fail is because they are not effectively supported by children. One of the startling facts to emerge from the research into children’s behavior in recent years has been the almost ubiquitous presence of other children when bullying takes place in schools.


Once we recognize that the most effective influence on children’s bystander behavior is what they think their friends expect of them (not what their teacher or parents think), we can begin to devise ways in which positive peer influence can make itself felt.

Locally, students at Cherokee Middle School appeared before the School Board’s Community Partnerships Committee last night to describe the public service skits they have filmed, working with the Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools, to educate their fellow middle schoolers on bullying and ways they can stop being passive bystanders and turn into active allies of bullied victims.

In Connecticut high schools, the “Names” anti-bullying program has been in place for over a decade under the guidance of the Connecticut Office of the Anti-Defamation League, as recently described in this recent article from the New York Times (registration required/short-term link). The program includes efforts to encourage bystanders to become allies.

In Arizona, the Arizona Bullying Prevention Partnership has launched a statewide initiative to implement Olweus bullying prevention training in elementary, middle and junior high schools.

What can we parents do?

There’s a vast array of ideas and resources available online, including:

But the first step is to stop being mere bystanders ourselves.


1 Comment »

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