Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

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Bullying in Schools

Guide No.12 (2002)

by Rana Sampson

Translation(s): O Bullying nas Escolas (Portuguese)

The Problem of Bullying in Schools

There is new concern about school violence, and police have assumed greater responsibility for helping school officials ensure students' safety. As pressure increases to place officers in schools, police agencies must decide how best to contribute to student safety. Will police presence on campuses most enhance safety? If police cannot or should not be on every campus, can they make other contributions to student safety? What are good approaches and practices?

Perhaps more than any other school safety problem, bullying affects students' sense of security. The most effective ways to prevent or lessen bullying require school administrators' commitment and intensive effort; police interested in increasing school safety can use their influence to encourage schools to address the problem. This guide provides police with information about bullying in schools, its extent and its causes, and enables police to steer schools away from common remedies that have proved ineffective elsewhere, and to develop ones that will work.

† Why should police care about a safety problem when others, such as school administrators, are better equipped to address it? One can find numerous examples of safety problems regarding which the most promising part of the police role is to raise awareness and engage others to effectively manage the problems. For example, in the case of drug dealing in privately owned apartment complexes, the most effective police strategy is to educate property owners and managers in effective strategies so they can reduce their property's vulnerability to drug markets.

Bullying is widespread and perhaps the most underreported safety problem on American school campuses.1 Contrary to popular belief, bullying occurs more often at school than on the way to and from there. Once thought of as simply a rite of passage or relatively harmless behavior that helps build young people's character, bullying is now known to have long-lasting harmful effects, for both the victim and the bully. Bullying is often mistakenly viewed as a narrow range of antisocial behavior confined to elementary school recess yards. In the United States, awareness of the problem is growing, especially with reports that in two-thirds of the recent school shootings (for which the shooter was still alive to report), the attackers had previously been bullied. "In those cases, the experience of bullying appeared to play a major role in motivating the attacker."2,

† It is important to note that while bullying may be a contributing factor in many school shootings, it is not the cause of the school shootings.

International research suggests that bullying is common at schools and occurs beyond elementary school; bullying occurs at all grade levels, although most frequently during elementary school. It occurs slightly less often in middle schools, and less so, but still frequently, in high schools.†† High school freshmen are particularly vulnerable.

†† For an excellent review of bullying research up through 1992, see Farrington (1993).

Dan Olweus, a researcher in Norway, conducted groundbreaking research in the 1970s exposing the widespread nature and harm of school bullying.3 Bullying is well documented in Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, providing an extensive body of information on the problem. Research from some countries has shown that, without intervention, bullies are much more likely to develop a criminal record than their peers,††† and bullying victims suffer psychological harm long after the bullying stops.

††† As young adults, former school bullies in Norway had a fourfold increase in the level of relatively serious, recidivist criminality (Olweus 1992). Dutch and Australian studies also found increased levels of criminal behavior by adults who had been bullies (Farrington 1993; Rigby and Slee 1999).

Definition of Bullying

Bullying has two key components: repeated harmful acts and an imbalance of power. It involves repeated physical, verbal or psychological attacks or intimidation directed against a victim who cannot properly defend him- or herself because of size or strength, or because the victim is outnumbered or less psychologically resilient.4

Bullying includes assault, tripping, intimidation, rumorspreading and isolation, demands for money, destruction of property, theft of valued possessions, destruction of another's work, and name-calling. In the United States, several other school behaviors (some of which are illegal) are recognized as forms of bullying, such as:

Not all taunting, teasing and fighting among schoolchildren constitutes bullying.6 "Two persons of approximately the same strength (physical or psychological)"fighting or quarreling" is not bullying. Rather, bullying entails repeated acts by someone perceived as physically or psychologically more powerful.

Related Problems

Bullying in schools shares some similarities to the related problems listed below, each of which requires its own analysis and response. This guide does not directly address these problems:

Extent of the Bullying Problem

Extensive studies in other countries during the 1980s and 1990s generally found that between 8 and 38 percent of students are bullied with some regularity, and that between five and nine percent of students bully others with some regularity. Chronic victims of bullying, bullied once a week or more, generally constitute between 8 and 20 percent of the student population.7

† A South Carolina study found that 20 percent of students bully others with some regularity (Limber et al. 1998). In an English study involving 25 schools and nearly 3,500 students, 9 percent of the students admitted to having bullied others by sexual touching [Glover and Cartwright, with Gleeson (1998)].

In the United States, fewer studies have been done. A recent study of a nationally representative sample of students found higher levels of bullying in America than in some other countries. Thirteen percent of sixth- through 10th-grade students bully, 10 percent reported being victims, and an additional six percent are victim-bullies.8 This study excluded elementary-age students (who often experience high levels of bullying) and did not limit bullying to school grounds. Several smaller studies from different parts of the country confirm high levels of bullying behaviors, with 10 to 29 percent of students reported to be either bullies or victims. 9,††

†† In some of the studies, lack of a common definition of bullying potentially distorts the estimates of the problem (Harachi, Catalano and Hawkins 1999). In addition, in the United States, the lack of a galvanized focus on bullying has resulted in a lack of large-scale school research efforts (such as those in Scandinavia, England, Japan, and Australia). Thus we have only limited insights into the problem of bullying here.

Clearly, the percentage of students who are bullies and victims varies by research study, often depending on the definition used, the time frame examined (e.g., ever, frequently, once a week) and other factors.†† Despite these differences, bullying appears to be widespread in schools in every country studying the problem.†††

† For the first time, during the 199798 school year, the United States participated in an international study of young people's health, behavior and lifestyles, which included conducting surveys on school bullying. (European countries have participated in the study since 1982.) Researchers gathered data on 120,000 students from 28 countries. Upwards of 20 percent of 15-year-old U.S. students reported they had been bullied at school during the current term (see "Annual Report on School Safety." However, a 2000 U.S. Department of Education report on school crime (based on 1999 data), using a very narrow—and perhaps too limited—definition of bullying than the earlier report, showed that 5 percent of students ages 12 through 18 had reported being bullied at school in the last six months (Kaufman et al. 2000).[Full text ] [Full text ]

†† The "Annual Report on School Safety," developed in response to a 1997 school shooting in West Paducah, Ky., did not until 1999 contain any data on school bullying. The 1999 school bullying data are aggregate, useful only in international comparisons, since specific types of bullying are not categorized. The report tracks thefts, weapons, injuries, threats, and physical fights, and some measures of harassment and hate crimes. However, the proportion of incidents that have their roots in bullying is not specified.

††† The words "bully" and "bullying" are used in this guide as shorthand to include all of the different forms of bullying behavior.

A Threshold Problem: The Reluctance To Report

Most students do not report bullying to adults. Surveys from a variety of countries confirm that many victims and witnesses fail to tell teachers or even parents.10 As a result, teachers may underestimate the extent of bullying in their school and may be able to identify only a portion of the actual bullies. Studies also suggest that children do not believe that most teachers intervene when told about bullying.11

"If the victims are as miserable as the research suggests, why don't they appeal for help? One reason may be that, historically, adults' responses have been so disappointing."12 In a survey of American middle and high school students, "66 percent of victims of bullying believed school professionals responded poorly to the bullying problems that they observed."13 Some of the reasons victims gave for not telling include:

† Similarly, many sexual assault and domestic violence victims keep their abuse a secret from the police. Police in many jurisdictions see increased reporting of these crimes as an important first step to reducing the potential for future violence, while victims often see it as jeopardizing their safety. Some of the same interests and concerns are found in the area of school bullying.

The same is true of student-witnesses. Although most students agree that bullying is wrong, witnesses rarely tell teachers and only infrequently intervene on behalf of the victim. Some students worry that intervening will raise a bully's wrath and make him or her the next target. Also, there may be "diffusion of responsibility"; in other words, students may falsely believe that no one person has responsibility to stop the bullying, absent a teacher or a parent.

Student-witnesses appear to have a central role in creating opportunities for bullying. In a study of bullying in junior and senior high schools in small Midwestern towns, 88 percent of students reported having observed bullying.14 While some researchers refer to witnesses as "bystanders," others use a more refined description of the witness role. In each bullying act, there is a victim, the ringleader bully, assistant bullies (they join in), reinforcers (they provide an audience or laugh with or encourage the bully), outsiders (they stay away or take no sides), and defenders (they step in, stick up for or comfort the victim).15 Studies suggest only between 10 and 20 percent of noninvolved students provide any real help when another student is victimized.16

Bullying Behavior

Despite country and cultural differences, certain similarities by gender, age, location, and type of victimization appear in bullying in the U.S. and elsewhere.

One of the things we do not yet know about bullying is whether certain types of bullying, for instance racial bullying or rumor spreading, are more harmful than other types. Clearly, much depends on the victim's vulnerability, yet certain types of bullying may have longer-term impact on the victim. It is also unclear what happens when a bully stops bullying. Does another student take that bully's place? Must the victim also change his or her behavior to prevent another student from stepping in? While specific studies on displacement have not been done, it appears that the more comprehensive the school approach to tackling bullying, the less opportunity there is for another bully to rise up.

Bullies

Many of the European and Scandinavian studies concur that bullies tend to be aggressive, dominant and slightly below average in intelligence and reading ability (by middle school), and most evidence suggests that bullies are at least of average popularity.27 The belief that bullies "are insecure, deep down" is probably incorrect.28 Bullies do not appear to have much empathy for their victims.29 Young bullies tend to remain bullies, without appropriate intervention. "Adolescent bullies tend to become adult bullies, and then tend to have children who are bullies."30 In one study in which researchers followed bullies as they grew up, they found that youth who were bullies at 14 tended to have children who were bullies at 32, suggesting an intergenerational link.31 They also found that "[b]ullies have some similarities with other types of offenders. Bullies tend to be drawn disproportionately from lower socioeconomic-status families with poor child-rearing techniques, tend to be impulsive, and tend to be unsuccessful in school."32

In Australia, research shows that bullies have low empathy levels, are generally uncooperative and, based on self-reports, come from dysfunctional families low on love. Their parents tend to frequently criticize them and strictly control them.33 Dutch (and other) researchers have found a correlation between harsh physical punishments such as beatings, strict disciplinarian parents and bullying.34 In U.S. studies, researchers have found higher bullying rates among boys whose parents use physical punishment or violence against them.35

Some researchers suggest that bullies have poor social skills and compensate by bullying. Others suggest that bullies have keen insight into others' mental states and take advantage of that by picking on the emotionally less resilient.36 Along this line, there is some suggestion, currently being explored in research in the United States and elsewhere, that those who bully in the early grades are initially popular and considered leaders. However, by the third grade, the aggressive behavior is less well-regarded by peers, and those who become popular are those who do not bully. Some research also suggests that "[bullies] direct aggressive behavior at a variety of targets. As they learn the reactions of their peers, their pool of victims becomes increasingly smaller, and their choice of victims more consistent."37 Thus, bullies ultimately focus on peers who become chronic victims due to how those peers respond to aggression. This indicates that identifying chronic victims early on can be important for effective intervention.

A number of researchers believe that bullying occurs due to a combination of social interactions with parents, peers and teachers.38 The history of the parent-child relationship may contribute to cultivating a bully, and low levels of peer and teacher intervention combine to create opportunities for chronic bullies to thrive (as will be discussed later).

Incidents of Bullying

Bullying most often occurs where adult supervision is low or absent: schoolyards, cafeterias, bathrooms, hallways "Olweus (1994) found that there is an inverse relationship between the number of supervising adults present and the number of bully/victim incidents."40 The design of less-supervised locations can create opportunities for bullying. For instance, if bullying occurs in a cafeteria while students vie for places in line for food, line management techniques, perhaps drawn from crime prevention through environmental design, could limit the opportunity to bully. A number of studies have found that bullying also occurs in classrooms and on school buses, although less so than in recess areas and hallways. Upon greater scrutiny, one may find that in certain classrooms, bullying thrives, and in others, it is rare. Classroom bullying may have more to do with the classroom management techniques a teacher uses than with the number of adult supervisors in the room.

Other areas also offer opportunities for bullying. The Internet, still relatively new, creates opportunities for cyber-bullies, who can operate anonymously and harm a wide audience. For example, middle school, high school and college students from Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley area posted website messages that were

"full of sexual innuendo aimed at individual students and focusing on topics such as "the weirdest people at your school." The online bulletin boards had been accessed more than 67,000 times [in a two-week period], prompting a sense of despair among scores of teenagers disparaged on the site, and frustration among parents and school administrators."One crying student, whose address and phone number were published on the site, was barraged with calls from people calling her a slut and a prostitute.41

A psychologist interviewed for the Los Angeles Times remarked on the harm of such Internet bullying:

It's not just a few of the kids at school; it's the whole world."Anybody could log on and see what they said about you....What's written remains, haunting, torturing these kids.42

The imbalance of power here was not in the bully's size or strength, but in the instrument the bully chose to use, bringing worldwide publication to vicious school gossip.

Victims of Bullying

Consequences of Bullying

Victims of bullying suffer consequences beyond embarrassment. Some victims experience psychological and/or physical distress, are frequently absent and cannot concentrate on schoolwork. Research generally shows that victims have low self-esteem, and their victimization can lead to depression49 that can last for years after the victimization.50 In Australia, researchers found that between five and ten percent of students stayed at home to avoid being bullied. Boys and girls who were bullied at least once a week experienced poorer health, more frequently contemplated suicide, and suffered from depression, social dysfunction, anxiety, and insomnia.51 Another study found that adolescent victims, once they are adults, were more likely than nonbullied adults individuals to have children who are victims.52

Chronic Victims of Bullying

While many, if not most, students have been bullied at some point in their school career,53 chronic victims receive the brunt of the harm. It appears that a small subset of six to ten percent of school-age children are chronic victims,54 some bullied as often as several times a week. There are more chronic victims in elementary school than in middle school, and the pool of chronic victims further shrinks as students enter high school. If a student is a chronic victim at age 15 (high school age), it would not be surprising to find that he or she has suffered through years of victimization. Because of the harm involved, anti-bullying interventions should include a component tailored to counter the abuse chronic victims suffer.

† These figures are based on studies in Dublin, Toronto and Sheffield, England (Farrington 1993). Olweus, however, in his Norwegian studies, found smaller percentages of chronic victims.

Several researchers suggest, although there is not agreement, that some chronic victims are "irritating" or "provocative" because their coping strategies include aggressively reacting to the bullying.55 The majority of chronic victims, however, are extremely passive and do not defend themselves. Provocative victims may be particularly difficult to help because their behavior must change substantially to lessen their abuse.

Both provocative and passive chronic victims tend to be anxious and insecure, "which may signal to others that they are easy targets."56 They are also less able to control their emotions, and more socially withdrawn. Tragically, chronic victims may return to bullies to try to continue the perceived relationship, which may initiate a new cycle of victimization. Chronic victims often remain victims even after switching to new classes with new students, suggesting that, without other interventions, nothing will change.57 In describing chronic victims, Olweus states: "It does not require much imagination to understand what it is to go through the school years in a state of more or less permanent anxiety and insecurity, and with poor self-esteem. It is not surprising that the victims' devaluation of themselves sometimes becomes so overwhelming that they see suicide as the only possible solution."58,

† A handful of chronic victims make the leap from suicidal to homicidal thoughts. Clearly, access to guns is also an issue.

In the United States, courts appear open to at least hearing arguments from chronic victims of bullying who allege that schools have a duty to stop persistent victimization.59 It has yet to be decided to what extent schools have an obligation to keep students free from mistreatment by their peers. However, early and sincere attention to the problem of bullying is a school's best defense.

Understanding Your Local Problem

The information provided above is only a generalized description of bullying in schools. You must combine this general information with a more specific understanding of your school's problem. Analyzing a school's problem carefully will help you design a more effective response strategy. Police who work with schools may even find that many of the thefts, assaults and batteries, hate crimes, and threats on school campuses (elementary, middle and high school level) are symptoms of bullying and are perpetrated by a small percentage of chronic tormentors.

Asking the Right Questions

† The problem of bullying requires extensive surveying of those affected. It is recommended that police link with local colleges, universities or researchers to prepare and pretest survey instruments. Internationally valid questionnaires, adapted from Olweus' questionnaires, are available to survey students, classroom teachers and other staff involved in managing bullying problems. These have been used as part of a comparative project in Japan, Norway, England, the Netherlands, and the state of Washington, and require written permission for use from Dan Olweus (Research Center for Health Promotion, Christies Gate 13, N-5015, Bergen, Norway). The value of using these questionnaires is the ability to make comparisons among a wide range of other sites. If you use anonymous written surveys of students, it is important to develop some other means for gathering information from students on the specific identities of chronic victims and chronic bullies. Once gathered, compare this information with that in school records and with teachers' observations to see if there is some agreement. For additional information on bullying surveys, also see the European Commission's TMR Network Project on bullying, involving collaboration among five European countries.

The following are some critical questions you should ask in analyzing your particular problem of bullying in schools, even if the answers are not always readily available. The answers to these and other questions will help you guide the school in choosing the most appropriate set of responses later on.

The School

Offenders

Victims and Victimization

Locations Where Bullying Occurs

Measuring Your Effectiveness

You should encourage the school to measure its bullying problem before implementing responses, to determine how serious the problem is, and after implementing them, to determine whether they have been effective. Measurement allows school staff to determine to what degree their efforts have succeeded, and suggests how they might modify their responses if they are not producing the intended results. For more detailed guidance on measuring effectiveness, see the companion guide to this series, Assessing Responses to Problems: An Introductory Guide for Police Problem-Solvers. The following potentially useful measures of the effectiveness of responses to bullying should be taken using before-andafter surveys:

Responses to the Problem of Bullying in Schools

Your analysis of your local problem should give you a better understanding of, among other things, the extent of the problem, including the level of bullying and the identification of bullying hot spots, chronic victims and chronic offenders. Outlined below are approaches used to address bullying, along with information about their effectiveness.

General Requirements for an Effective Strategy To Counter Bullying in Schools

  1. Enlisting the school principal's commitment and involvement. The school principal's commitment to and involvement in addressing school bullying are key. In fact, in comparing schools with high and low bullying rates, some research suggests that a principal's investment in preventing and controlling bullying contributes to low rates.60 A police officer's knowledge of and interest in the problem may serve to convince a principal to invest the time and energy to collaboratively and comprehensively tackle it.
  2. Using a multifaceted, comprehensive approach. A multifaceted, comprehensive approach is more effective than one that focuses on only one or two aspects of school bullying. A multifaceted, comprehensive approach includes:
    • establishing a schoolwide policy that addresses indirect bullying (e.g., rumor spreading, isolation, social exclusion), which is more hidden, as well as direct bullying (e.g., physical aggression);
    • providing guidelines for teachers, other staff and students (including witnesses) on specific actions to take if bullying occurs;
    • educating and involving parents so they understand the problem, recognize its signs and intervene appropriately;
    • adopting specific strategies to deal with individual bullies and victims, including meeting with their parents;
    • encouraging students to report known bullying;
    • developing a comprehensive reporting system to track bullying and the interventions used with specific bullies and victims;
    • encouraging students to be helpful to classmates who may be bullied;
    • developing tailored strategies to counter bullying in specific school hot spots, using environmental redesign, increased supervision (e.g., by teachers, other staff members, parents, volunteers) or technological monitoring equipment; and
    • conducting post-intervention surveys to assess the strategies' impact on school bullying.

Specific Responses To Reduce Bullying in Schools

  1. Using the "whole-school" approach.† Olweus developed and tested the whole-school approach in Scandinavia. It contains elements listed under requirement 1 and 2 above (school principal's involvement and the multi-faceted, comprehensive approach) and it has undergone repeated evaluations in other countries, including the United States, with a range of successful results, including a 50 percent reduction in bullying in 42 schools in one area of Norway. However, most other applications of this approach achieve improvements in the 20 to 30 percent range, which is significant.61 In some studies, the results are achieved primarily in the second year. This approach can reduce the level of bullying and other antisocial behavior, such as vandalism, fighting, theft, and truancy, and improve the "social climate," order and discipline in class.

    † Some research refers to the wholeschool approach as the "schoolwide" approach or "organizational" approach. The three are identical, requiring interventions at the school, class and individual level.

    The whole-school approach is somewhat easier to implement in elementary schools, due to their size and structure. Students in these schools generally interact with only one or two teachers a year, guaranteeing higher levels of consistent messages from teachers to students.62 However, significant gains can also be achieved in middle and high schools Research tells us that the whole-school approach requires renewed effort each year (reinforcing anti-bullying strategies with returning students, their parents and school staff), which may be at odds with a school's, or even a police department's, concern about tackling the latest hot topic. However, onetime efforts will be less effective. Thus, schools must prepare themselves to maintain momentum for anti-bullying initiatives year after year.
  2. Increasing student reporting of bullying. To address the problem of students' resistance to reporting bullying, some schools have set up a bully hot line. One in England received thousands of calls shortly after it was established. Some schools use a "bully box"; students drop a note in the box to alert teachers and administrators about problem bullies. Other approaches to increase reporting are also used. In one Kentucky town, a police officer, keen to increase reporting, developed a short in-class segment titled "Hero vs. Snitch," in which he discussed why reporting is heroic behavior, not tattling.
  3. Developing activities in less-supervised areas. In these areas (e.g., schoolyards, lunchrooms), trained supervisors spot bullying and initiate activities that limit opportunities for it. Such activities must be of interest to bullies and curb their behavior.
  4. Reducing the amount of time students can spend less supervised. Since much bullying occurs during lesssupervised time (e.g., recess, lunch breaks, class changes), reducing the amount of time available to students can reduce the amount of bullying.
  5. Staggering recess, lunch and/or class-release times. This approach minimizes the number of bullies and victims present at one time, so supervisors have less trouble spotting bullying. However, supervisors must be mindful that most bullies are in the same grade as their victims.
  6. Monitoring areas where bullying can be expected (e.g., bathrooms). Adult monitoring can increase the risk that bullies get caught, but may require increased staffing or trained volunteers.
  7. Assigning bullies to a particular location or to particular chores during release times. This approach separates bullies from their intended victims. Some teachers give bullies constructive tasks to occupy them during release times. Careful victim monitoring is required to ensure that bullies do not pick on victims at other times.
  8. Posting classroom signs prohibiting bullying and listing the consequences for it. This puts would-be bullies on notice and outlines the risks they take. Teachers must consistently enforce the rules for them to have meaning. Schools should post signs in each classroom and apply ageappropriate penalties.
  9. Providing teachers with effective classroom management training. To address bullying, schools should ensure that all their teachers have effective classroom management training. Since research suggests that classes containing students with behavioral, emotional or learning problems have more bullies and victims, teachers in those classes may require additional tailored training in spotting and handling bullying.
  10. Having high-level school administrators inform late-enrolling students about the school's bullying policy. This removes any excuse new students have for bullying, and stresses the importance the school places on countering it.

Responses With Limited Effectiveness

  1. Training students in conflict resolution and peer mediation. A number of schools adopt conflict resolution and peer mediation training to address bullying (and other) problems. "Because bullying involves harassment by powerful children of children with less power (rather than a conflict between peers of relatively equal status), common conflictresolution strategies or mediation may not be effective."64 In fact, they may actually further victimize a child.65 The training often offers too little for those students who really need it, and too much for those who already have the skills. The whole-school approach, in contrast, does not assume that students alone can solve the bullying problem; interventions at all levels are required: school, class, individual, teacher, parent, and peer.

    † In terms of peer mediation, one Flemish study found that elementaryand many middle school-age students lack confidence in successfully intervening (Stevens, Van Oost and De Bourdeaudhuij 2000). In another study, researchers found that only small numbers of students were willing to go to peer-support training, and that it was harder to get boys or male teachers involved (Naylor and Cowie 1999). In one study in Australia, however, Peterson and Rigby (1999) found a tremendous number of peer interventions, as part of a whole-school approach. The result was a modest decline in reported bullying of students in their first year of high school, but not in the other years. The authors still found this significant because the transition year into high school can be intense for bullying.

  2. Adopting a "zero tolerance" policy. Some schools, in their rush to "do something" about bullying, adopt a "zero tolerance" policy against it, without an in-depth analysis of their specific problem or the comprehensive involvement of administrators, teachers, other staff, student-witnesses, parents, bullies, and victims at the school, class, and individual level. This approach may result in a high level of suspensions without full comprehension of how behavior needs to and can be changed. It does not solve the problem of the bully, who typically spends more unsupervised time in the home or community if suspended or expelled. Zero tolerance may also ultimately have a chilling effect on reporting of bullying.
  3. Providing group therapy for bullies. Some schools provide self-esteem training for bullies. This may be misdirected: research suggests that most bullies do not lack in self-esteem.66
  4. Encouraging victims to simply "stand up"to bullies. Without adequate support or adult involvement this strategy may be harmful and physically dangerous for a victim of bullying.67

Sample Brochure Educating Parents About School Bullying

† This brochure is copied (with minor changes) with the permission of its author, Susan Limber, Clemson University, Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life. This particular brochure is most appropriate for parents of elementary or middle school students.

The ___________________ School District is collaborating with the ______________________ Police Department to implement the Bullying Prevention Program to address bullying among children in grades ____ to ____.

What is bullying?

Bullying occurs when one child or group of children repeatedly hurts another child through actions or words. Bullying may involve physical aggression, such as fighting, shoving or kicking; verbal aggression, such as name-calling; or more subtle aggression, such as socially isolating a child.

Why focus on bullying?

All of us are concerned about the levels of violence among young people in our communities and schools. Studies have shown that 60 percent of children identified as bullies in middle school go on to have arrest records. We need to address these children's behavioral problems at an early age, before they become even more serious. In addition, victims of bullies may have problems with depression, poor school attendance and low self-esteem. It is important to help create a school environment where all children feel safe and can learn to the best of their abilities.

What does this program involve?

The Bullying Prevention Program involves the total effort of all school staff (teachers, principals, guidance counselors, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, etc.), as well as students, parents and other community members, to reduce bullying.

The school's efforts will include:

Will this program help?

Studies have shown that the Bullying Prevention Program can be very effective in reducing bullying and related antisocial behavior among schoolchildren. In places where this program has been used, bullying has been reduced by 25 to 50 percent. Fighting, vandalizing, drinking, and other antisocial behaviors also have decreased, and children and school personnel involved in the program have reported that they felt more positive about school.

How can parents get involved?

How can I tell if my child is being bullied? Your child may be the victim of bullying if he or she:

If your child shows several of these warning signs, it's possible he or she is being bullied. You may want to talk with your child to find out what is troubling him or her, and schedule a conference to discuss your concerns with school staff.

How can I tell if my child is bullying others? Your child may be bullying others if he or she:

If your child shows several of these warning signs, it's possible that he or she is bullying others. You may want to spend some extra time talking with your child about his or her behavior, and schedule a conference to talk about the issue with school staff.

For more information about the Bullying Prevention Program, please contact ___________________.

Additional Resources

Morrison, Brenda (2002) “Bullying and victimisation in schools: a restorative justice approach.” [PDF] Trends and Issues, No. 219. Canberra, Australia: Australian Institute of Criminology.

Rigby, Ken (2002). A Meta-Evaluation of Methods and Approaches to Reducing Bullying in Pre-School and Early Primary School in Australia. [PDF] Canberra: Attorney-General’s Department.

Additional reports on school crime and safety are available from the National Center for Education Statistics website at www.nces.ed.gov.

Information about the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence model Bullying Prevention Program can be found at www.colorado.edu/cspv/blueprints/model/programs/BPP.html

Stop Bullying Now! This website focuses on reducing school bullying among the 'tweens population (the middle school years) with excellent resources for both teachers and children. Found at: www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/ indexAdult.asp?Area=additionalresources

Abstracts of publications that have appeared since this guide was written

Bullying prevention is crime prevention. Fox, J.A., D.S. Elliott, R.G. Kerlikowske, S.A. Newman, and W. Christeson (2003). Washington, D.C.: FIGHT CRIME: INVEST IN KIDS.

This report examines the nature and extent of bullying in the U.S., and identifies effective anti-bullying/anti-aggression prevention programs. Of children in sixth through tenth grade, more than 3.2 million (nearly one in six) are victims of bullying each year, while 3.7 million bully other children. Preventing kids from becoming bullies and intervening to stop bullying, however, can not only protect children from the pain that bullying inflicts immediately, but can protect all of us from crime later on. Whereas programs have been developed that can cut bullying and future arrests by as much as fifty percent, these programs need to be implemented in America's schools. In particular, three models have been rigorously tested and proven highly effective: the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT), and The Incredible Years. Whereas these programs are relatively inexpensive, especially considering the results they deliver, they should also be considered investments, which will more than pay for themselves through reduced school violence, fewer placements for special education, fewer suicides and less future crime. Inaction now guarantees that more students and ordinary citizens will become victims of bullying and violence, hence it is time to ensure that every school in America has an effective anti-bullying program.

The Nature and Extent of Bullying at School. Dake, J.A., J.H. Price, and S.K. Telljohann (2003). Journal of School Health, 73(5):173-180.

In elementary schools, the prevalence of bullying ranges from 11.3% in Finland to 49.8% in Ireland. The only U.S. study of elementary students found that 19% were bullied. Bullying behavior declines as students progress through the grades. School bullying is associated with numerous physical, mental, and social detriments. A relationship also exists between student bullying behavior and school issues such as academic achievement, school bonding, and absenteeism. Prevention of school bullying should become a priority issue for schools. The most effective methods of bullying reduction involve a whole school approach. This method includes assessing the problem, planning school conference days, providing better supervision at recess, forming a bullying prevention coordinating group, encouraging parent-teacher meetings, establishing classroom rules against bullying, holding classroom meetings about bullying, requiring talks with the bullies and the victims, and scheduling talks with the parents of involved students.

Summary of Responses

The table below summarizes the responses to bullying in schools, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

General Requirements for an Effective Strategy To Counter Bullying in Schools
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
1 Enlisting the school principal's commitment and involvement Police officers convince the principal of the importance of tackling bullying "officers are aware of best practices Officers may need to engage others, such as parents, to help influence the principal; unfortunately, in some cases, only a crisis will galvanize the principal's attention
2 Using a multifaceted, comprehensive approach Once baseline surveys are completed, the school adopts a comprehensive series of strategies to address the specific survey findings "the principal assigns a high- level project (or team) manager to ensure the full implementation and progress of the strategies Sometimes it is difficult to isolate the effectiveness of individual interventions
Specific Responses To Reduce Bullying in Schools
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
3 Using the "whole- school" approach Baseline data reveal the details of the problem; interventions are implemented at the school, class and individual level

"school administrators are fully committed to addressing the problem, and are knowledgeable of the components of the approach

For examples of policies for the school, class, students, and parents, see Glover and Cartwright, with Gleeson (1998).

Availability and use of local resources, such as university researchers, to assist in survey development and testing, or alternatively, use of Olweus' survey; parental permission may be needed to survey students; community's and school's commitment to uncovering the full details of the problem
4 Increasing student reporting of bullying Increases bullies' risk of getting caught "students are convinced that reporting is appropriate behavior Some schools establish a hot line, while others install a bully box where students can leave notes alerting school personnel to bullying; non-anonymous reporting should be encouraged to lessen student fear of reprisal
5 Developing activities in less- supervised areas Increases the effort bullies must make by decreasing their opportunity to bully "the activities interest bullies and are designed to limit their ability to victimize others Requires staff or volunteers (students, parents, seniors) and age-appropriate programming
6 Reducing the amount of time students can spend less supervised Increases the risk that bullying will be exposed and reduces the amount of time for it to occur "supervisors are trained to spot and respond to bullying Requires scheduling changes
7 Staggering recess, lunch and/or class- release times Ensures fewer bullies and victims are together at the same time, increasing supervisors' ability to spot bullying "bullies and victims are not in the same classes or, if they are, supervisors are well trained to spot and respond to bullying If some bullies are in the same classes with their victims, other remedies are also needed
8 Monitoring areas where bullying can be expected (e.g., bathrooms) Increases bullies' risk of getting caught "it is done frequently enough to make the risk real May require increased staffing or trained volunteers
9 Assigning bullies to a particular location or to particular chores during release times Increases the effort bullies must make to bully because this separates bullies from victims "careful consideration is given to which of the two approaches is more appropriate for each particular bully Isolating bullies may further anger them and cause additional problems for their victims
10 Posting classroom signs prohibiting bullying and listing the consequences for it Removes the excuse of ignorance and underscores the risks "signs are posted in all classrooms Signs and consequences should be age appropriate
11 Providing teachers with effective classroom management training Increases bullies' risk of getting caught in classrooms, and decreases victims' risk of harm "teachers are committed to stopping classroom bullying, and those teaching higher-risk classes are given additional specialized training Identifying those teachers who need extra assistance must be handled delicately, although it should be noted that most U.S. teachers receive no instruction on classroom management techniques, so it is not surprising that some have fewer skills in these
12 Having high-level school administrators inform late- enrolling students about the school's bullying policy Decreases late- enrolling students' risk of bullying or being bullied "done at the time of enrollment and by someone perceived as having a high level of authority Schools may consider having late-enrolling students sign "bully free agreements" acknowledging the rules and the consequences for violations
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
13 Training students in conflict resolution and peer mediation Allows students to play the key role in resolving bullying problems "conflicts are between students of relatively equal status, and not between bullies and weaker victims May be more appropriate for problems other than bullying (e.g., conflicts between peers of equal power or status)
14 Adopting a "zero tolerance" policy Guarantees that bullies who get caught will be penalized on the first offense "used as a last resort, after other responses have failed Bullying is too widespread, longstanding and complex for it to stop simply due to such a policy
15 Providing group therapy for bullies Intended to build self-esteem of bullies "bullies suggest that they have low self-esteem and it is the cause of their bullying Most bullies do not have low-esteem
16 Encouraging victims to simply "stand up" to bullies Directly pits victim against bully "accompanied by adequate support or adult involvement May be harmful or physically dangerous

Endnotes

[1] Batsche and Knoff (1994).

[2] U.S. Secret Service (2000). [Full Text ]

[3] Olweus (1978); an earlier edition was published in Swedish in 1973.

[4] Smith et al. (eds.) (1999); Farrington (1993); Smith and Brain (2000).

[5] U.S. Department of Education (1998).

[6] Olweus (1992).

[7] Olweus (1992); Rigby and Slee (1999); Ortega and Lera (2000); Salmivalli (1999); Farrington (1993).

[8] Nansel et al. (2001).

[9] Perry, Kusel and Perry (1988); Harachi, Catalano and Hawkins (1999), citing Bosworth, Espelage, DuBay, Dahlberg, and Daytner (1996); Hoover, Oliver and Hazler (1992); Olweus and Limber (1999), citing Melton, Limber, Cunningham, Osgood, Cambers, Flerx, Henggeler, and Nation (1998).

[10] Rigby and Slee (1999); Smith, Morita, Junger-Tas, Olweus, Catalano and Slee (1999).

[11] Farrington (1993), citing Whitney and Smith (1991).

[12] Clarke and Kiselica (1997).

[13] Hoover, Oliver and Hazler (1992); Australian students reported similarly [Rigby (1996)]. [Full Text ]

[14] Limber (1998), citing Hazler, Hoover and Oliver (1991).

[15] Salmivalli (1999); also see Olweus and Limber (1999).

[16] Salmivalli (1999); Stevens, Van Oost and De Bourdeaudhuij (2000), citing Pepler (1994).

[17] Clarke and Kiselica (1997).

[18] Rigby and Slee (1999). 19 Limber et al. (1998).

[19] Smith and Sharp (1994).

[20] Rigby and Slee (1999); Ortega and Lera (2000).

[21] Farrington (1993), citing Stephenson and Smith (1991), and Whitney and Smith (1991).

[22] Farrington (1993), citing Stephenson and Smith (1991), and Whitney and Smith (1991).

[23] Farrington (1993), citing Zeigler and Rosenstein-Manner ( 1991), and Stephenson and Smith (1991).

[24] Nansel et al. (2001).

[25] Farrington (1993), citing Ziegler and Rosenstein-Manner (1991).

[26] Home Office (1996).[Full Text ]

[27] Farrington (1993).

[28] Olweus (1978); Smith and Brain (2000); but see Bernstein and Watson (1997).

[29] Bernstein and Watson (1997).

[30] Farrington (1993).

[31] Farrington (1993) reporting on his earlier research.

[32] Farrington (1993).

[33] Rigby and Slee (1999).

[34] Junger-Tas and Van Kesteren (1999).

[35] Harachi, Catalano and Hawkins (1999).

[36] See generally Smith and Brain (2000) for a discussion of the research on this topic.

[37] See Harachi, Catalano and Hawkins (1999) for a discussion of these different avenues of recent bullying research.

[38] Stevens, De Bourdeaudhuij and Van Oost (2000).

[39] Farrington (1993); Zeigler and Rosenstein-Manner (1991).

[40] Clarke and Kiselica (1997).

[41] Banks, Kaplan and Groves (2001).

[42] Banks, Kaplan and Groves (2001), quoting therapist Veronica Thomas.

[43] Farrington (1993), citing Whitney and Smith (1991).

[44] Farrington (1993); also see Bernstein and Watson (1997), citing Olweus (1978); Perry, Kusel and Perry (1988).

[45] Bernstein and Watson (1997), citing Olweus (1978).

[46] Schwartz, Dodge and Cole (1993).

[47] Hodges and Perry (1997).

[48] Junger-Tas and Van Kesteren (1999).

[49] Smith and Brain (2000).

[50] Farrington (1993).

[51] Rigby and Slee (1999).

[52] Farrington (1993).

[53] Junger-Tas and Van Kesteren (1999).

[54] See Bernstein and Watson (1997) for a discussion of the research on chronic victims; also see Perry, Kusel and Perry (1988).

[55] Farrington (1993); Olweus (1993).

[56] See generally Bernstein and Watson (1997).

[57] Bernstein and Watson (1997); also see Salmivalli (1999).

[58] Olweus (1992).

[59] Harachi, Catalano and Hawkins (1999).

[60] Farrington (1993), citing Stephenson and Smith (1991); for similar conclusions, also see Roland (2000).

[61] Olweus and Limber (1999); Pitts and Smith (1996); also see the evaluation by The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. [Full Text ] [Full text ]

[62] Stevens, De Bourdeaudhuij and Van Oost (2000); Stevens found zero outcomes in secondary schools.

[63] Pitts and Smith (1996); but see Stevens, De Bourdeauhuij and Van Oost (2000).[Full text ]

[64] Limber et al. (1998).

[65] Personal correspondence from Sue Limber to the author, November 9, 2001.

[66] Personal correspondence from Sue Limber to the author, November 9, 2001.

[67] Personal correspondence from Sue Limber to the author, November 9, 2001.

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