Friday, December 4, 2009

The Bullying Cycle: Which Abuses Among Children are Some School Systems and Communities Trying to End?

[diagram of bullying cycle of abuse and collaboration is from here]

Consider the impact of implementing similar programs into all schools requiring a zero tolerance policy on racist, ableist, classist, sexist, and heterosexist abuse and violence, as well as teaching children how to behave differently, and how to intervene effectively to stop such traumatic and tormenting behavior when it arises. We have intervention models for bullying in schools because boys are bullied, almost always by other boys. Girls are bullied too, by usually by heterosexual boys and girls, but girls are also visually and photographically violated, sexually harassed, groped, stigmatised as various misogynistic tropes in the male supremacist [lack of] imagination. Many girls are, of course, coerced into having "sex" with boys, as well as grossly sexually assaulted and raped by boys. Lesbian and genderqueer girls, and gay and so-called "effeminate" boys--meaning some boys--are also sexually harassed and abused along with being physically, emotionally, and psychologically tormented by het-identified boys, often threatened with violence including rape.

All children being bullied, harassed, stigmatised school-wide, made fun of, beaten, and raped are at high risk for suicide, but even if no children who endured such communal callousness and cruelty committed suicide, this behavior has got to end ASAP, by any means necessary. I have yet to see the sort of approaches below employed and supported by entire communities to end sexual harassment and rape of girls (and women) in (and beyond) school systems. You have one guess as to why that is. Here's a clue: because the victims aren't boys. I know of no such community plans and intervention programs to end marital  rape. You have less than one guess as to why that is.

What follows is from here

Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (BPP)

In 1982, three Norwegian boys, ages 10 through 14, committed suicide, apparently as a result of severe bullying by their classmates. The event triggered shock and outrage, led to a national campaign against bullying behavior, and ultimately resulted in the development of a systematic school-based bullying intervention program.

That program, developed by psychology professor Dan Olweus, was tested inititally with more than 2,500 students in Bergen, Norway. Within two years, incidents of school bullying had dropped by more than 50%.  Since then, a number of countries, including England, Germany and the United States, have implemented Olweus' program with similar results.

According to the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program saves the state’s taxpayers $5.29 for every $1 spent. For a copy of the institute’s 2001 report “The Comparative Costs and Benefits of Programs to Reduce Crime,” call 360.586.2677 or e-mail

BPP, which Olweus based on principles derived from research into behavior modification techniques for aggressive or violent children, restructures the learning environment to create a social climate characterized by supportive adult involvement, positive adult role models, firm limits, and consistent, noncorporal sanctions for bullying behavior.

The main arena for the program is the school, and school staff has the primary responsibility for introducing and implementing it. All students within a school participate in most aspects of the program. Additional individual interventions are targeted at students who are identified as bullies or victims of bullying.

Schoolwide components of the program include the administration of an anonymous questionnaire to assess the nature and prevalence of bullying at each school, a school conference day to discuss bullying and plan interventions, formation of a Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee, and increased supervision of students at "hot spots" for bullying. Classroom components include the establishment and enforcement of class rules against bullying, and holding regular class meetings with students. Individual components include interventions with children identified as bullies and victims, and discussions with parents of involved students, with the assistance of counselors or school-based mental health professionals.

According to the Center for Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV), the Olweus model has consistently been found to produce:
  • A substantial reduction in both boys’ and girls’ reports of bullying and victimization, and in students’ reports of antisocial behavior including fighting, truancy, theft and vandalism
  • Significant enhancement of the social climate of schools, as reflected in students’ reports of improved order and discipline, more positive social relationships, and a more positive attitude toward schoolwork and school.

Click here to learn more about the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.

Bully-Proofing Your School (BPYS)
BPYS has been implemented in dozens of school districts and communities in Colorado and other states since its development in the mid-1990s by the Denver-based nonprofit organization Creating Caring Communities. BPYS follows many of the principles involved in the Olweus program, but provides a more-defined curriculum for teachers to use.

Components of BPYS, which targets students in kindergarten through 8th grade, include teacher/staff training, student instruction, parent education, classroom intervention, creating a caring environment and victim support.

Implementation occurs in three phases beginning with a definition of bullying, a discussion of its impact, and establishment of classroom rules regarding bullying. The second phase involves developing skills and techniques for dealing with bullying and increasing resilience to victimization. In the third phase, emphasis is placed on change in school culture through converting children who are neither bullies nor victims of bullying — the silent majority — into the "caring majority." Click here for more information about Creating Caring Communities.

PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies) Curriculum
The PATHS Curriculum was developed by a consortium of American universities in the late 1990s and is now being used by several hundred schools in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. It provides elementary school teachers with a systematic developmental procedure for helping children understand their feelings, tolerate frustration and come up with constructive solutions for dealing with conflict. In the classroom, teachers give frequent, short lessons on interpreting social cues and others’ perspectives, developing positive relationships, using self-control and solving interpersonal problems. Students also learn how to reduce stress, communicate better, develop a positive attitude, and understand the difference between feelings and behaviors.

The PATHS Curriculum is taught three times a week for a minimum of 20-30 minutes per day, ideally beginning in kindergarten and continuing through grade 5. Teachers receive training in a two- to three-day workshop and in biweekly meetings with the curriculum consultant. Although primarily focused on the school and classroom settings, the program also includes information and activities for use with parents.

PATHS has been field-tested and researched with children in regular education classroom settings, as well as with a variety of special-needs students, and been shown to significantly improve protective factors and reduce behavioral risk factors. Click here for additional information.

Second Step
Second Step, a preschool-through-grade 9 program developed by the Seattle-based Committee for Children, weaves lessons about empathy, impulse control and other social skills into everyday curriculum, as well as involving families through group meetings, a parents’ guide and a video program.

The Second Step curriculum, which is currently being taught in more than 15,000 schools throughout the United States and Canada, has been proven effective in reducing aggressive behavior and increasing healthy interactions among participating students. Click here for additional information.

Steps to Respect
Also designed by the Seattle-based Committee for Children, Steps to Respect is a program for grades 3-6 that focuses on (1) establishing a schoolwide framework of anti-bullying policies and procedures; (2) training staff and parents to handle bullying; and (3) teaching students to recognize, refuse and report bullying. The program includes step-by-step planning and implementation tools and guidance, adult training, and classroom resources ranging from DVDs and selected readings to fully scripted skill-building lessons. Click here for additional information.

Safe School Ambassadors
Safe School Ambassadors is a program that trains selected students, in grades 4-12, to intervene with their peers to prevent and stop acts of cruelty and reduce tension. The program engages the socially influential "opinion leaders" from a school's diverse groups and equips them with nonviolent communication and intervention skills to use with their peers. The training and ongoing group meetings empower students to use the skills at the time of an incident to prevent or stop it.

Materials are provided for elementary, middle and secondary grade levels and include videos and training exercises. The Safe School Ambassadors program is currently in use in more than 400 schools in the United States and Canada. Click here for additional information.

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