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Creating a Positive School Environment

Creating a Positive School EnvironmentBullying Prevention and Intervention

Material from Bullying Prevention and Intervention presentation by Susan M. Swearer, Ph.D.WHAT IS BULLYING?While the definition of bullying can be agreed upon by scholars and educators; students, parents, and teachers often struggle with the distinction between teasing and bullying.The same aggressive behaviors (taunting, teasing, hitting, pushing) can be playful or part of bullying depending on whether they occur between friends or frenemies.

Adults typically dont see bullying.

The dividing line between bullying (repeatedly and to intimidate) and being mean (a single aggressive act) is not immediately apparent to adults.

Bullying is a very complex dynamic.Why Adults Cant Always Tell What Behaviors are Bullying What we are Up Against?Bullying is not an issue that needs to be addressed we are more concerned with academic success.Not all districts/schools have problems with bullying.A new policy will not eradicate bullying. Have they forgotten what growing up is like?Bullying is just part of life.I was bullied and I turned out fine.

*From a school administrators survey

Definition of BullyingStudents are being bullied when another student or students:

Say mean and hurtful things to them or make fun of them (verbally or electronically).Completely ignore or exclude them from their group of friends or leave them out on purpose.Hit, kick, push, shoveTell lies, spread false rumors about them or end mean notes and try to make other students dislike them.

ThereforeBullying is:A negative, mean behavior thatOccurs repeatedly (over time)in a relationship that is characterized by an imbalance of power or strength.

Olweus, 1999Bullying/Victim Continuum DefinitionsBullying reports bullying othersVictim reports being bullied by othersBully-victim reports bullying others & being bulliedBystander reports observing others being bulliedNo Status/Not involved does not report any involvement with bullying

Cyber-BullyingCyber-bullying involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.

Bill Belsey:www.cyberbullying.caMethods of CommunicationSocial networks like Facebook, MySpace, TwitterEmailsCell phonesTextsSextingBlogsWebsites like FormspringInstant MessagingRelational Aggression Between GirlsRelational aggression encompasses behaviors that harm others by damaging, threatening to damage or manipulating one's relationships with his/her peers, or by injuring one's feelings of social acceptance.


For example:Giving someone a mean look or staring at themPurposefully ignoring someone when angry (giving the "silent treatment") Spreading rumors about a disliked classmate Telling others not to play with a certain classmate as a means of retaliation

*Most of these acts are unseen by adults and have no written rules against them.

http://www.opheliaproject.org/main/ra_about3.htmlActs of Relational AggressionWe Need to Ask the Right Question:What are the conditions that allow bullying behaviors to occur?Family and School Risk Factors for BullyingFamilyLack of supervisionLack of attachmentNegative, critical relationshipsLack of discipline or consequencesSupport for aggressionModeling of aggression

SchoolLack of supervisionLack of attachmentNegative, critical relationshipsLack of discipline or consequencesSupport for aggressionModeling of aggressionSchool Influences that contribute to bullyingPoor classroom managementLack of adult supervisionLack of awareness of problemPoor understanding of bullyingTeachers less likely to consider verbal and relational/emotional forms of aggression as bullyingDiscomfort in responding to students aggressionAcceptance of bullying which increases as students get older

From: Does bullying affect school climate? If so? How? Tony Warren

The Cost of BullyingLower academic performancePsychological consequences: depression, anxiety, antisocial behaviorFeelings of helplessness, anger, and frustrationCosts of litigationDropout and suicideThe Reasons Victims Gave for Not Telling Include:Fearing retaliationFeeling shame at not being able to stand up for themselvesFearing they would not be believedNot wanting to worry their parentsHaving no confidence that anything would change as a resultThinking their parents or teachers advice would make the problem worseFearing their teacher would tell the bully who told on him or herThinking it worse to be thought of as a snitch

From: Does bullying affect school climate? If so? How? Tony Warren

There are No Easy Solutions!Bullying is a complex phenomenon that MUST include interventions at all levels:


Effective Strategies to Counter Bullying in SchoolsEnlisting the principals commitment and involvementUsing a multifaceted , comprehensive approachUsing the whole school approachIncrease student reporting of bullyingReducing the amount of time students can spend less supervisedMonitor areas where bullying can be expected (e.g. bathrooms)Posting classroom signs school-wide prohibiting bullying and listing the consequences for it

From: Does bullying affect school climate? If so? How? Tony Warren

Less Effective StrategiesTraining students in conflict resolution and peer mediationAdopting a zero tolerance policyProviding group therapy for bulliesEncouraging victims to simply stand up to bullies

From: Does bullying affect school climate? If so? How? Tony Warren

Bystanders are a Key to Reducing BullyingWhen bystanders take a stand against bullying they help create an environment that is safer and more conducive to learning.

(Tremlow, Peaceful Schools Project, study with Topeka schools, 2002)Document Bullying IncidentsDevelop a confidential reporting systemDetermine a method for reporting bullyingDocument the incident in detailUse forms consistentlyFollow-up consistently

Helping Victims, Bully-Victims, Bullies, and BystandersMake sure students are aware of the confidential reporting system for bullyingHave an open door policy with counselors to address the needs of students involved in bullyingStay away from a shame/blame mentality

Therapeutic InterventionsUnderstand the connection between bullying and mental health issuesDevelop a strong community referral systemUtilize school counselors and school psychologistsAssess and treat depression and anxiety linked to bullying/victimizationCognitive-behavior therapy is the front-line treatment for depression and anxiety

Bullying Intervention Program (BIP: Swearer & Givens, 2006)Critical Components of Effective Bullying Prevention and InterventionStart with an anti-bullying policy that includes provisions for assessment and intervention.

Increase awareness about the negative consequences of bullying videos, plays, classroom presentations.

Collect data in individual schools.

Analyze data

Use the data to make decisions about bullying prevention and intervention.

Repeat annually to track bullying/victimization over time.The Promoting Positive Peer Relationships (P3R) bullying prevention initiative has been developed with this concept in mind. Three of Americas leading specialists on bullying and school violence Professor Dorothy Espelage (UIUC), Associate Professor Susan Swearer (UNL) and Professor Shane Jimerson (UCSB) collaborated in developing P3R and have jointly written the accompanying text and curriculum materials.

Designed for school and after-school programs, P3R is composed of four resources, each built around professional films produced in collaboration with students. There are two curriculum resources Classroom Resource, Make-You-Own-Film Resource plus two adult education resources Professional Development Resource, Community Education Resource.

Stories of Us Program OverviewIts not the program or the book its the people!

Be the change that you want to see in the world. - Ghandi


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Creating a Positive School Environment Bullying Prevention and Intervention Material from “Bullying Prevention and Intervention “ presentation by Susan M. Swearer, Ph.D.
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