Friday, May 4, 2012

School Bullying Prevention Programs: Just how effective are they?

Wouldn't it be great if there was a bullying prevention program that could be implemented in schools that could significantly reduce bullying behavior among students?  The fact of the matter is that there is no bullying prevention program that could tackle such an issue at a significant extent.  According to recent research, the efficacy of bullying prevention programs is anywhere from 17 to 23%.  One of the primary reasons why bullying prevention programs fail in our schools is because they're designed around a one size fits all policy.  Even the Department of Education recommends that schools resist prefab curriculums to reduce bullying behavior. 

Research regarding the issue of school bullying and violence continues to be in its infancy stages.  Since the Columbine high school incident several years ago, it appears that much of the research is problem rather than intervention focused.  Much of the research focuses on how many kids are affected and how they are affected by bullying rather than how to effectively intervene to prevent bullying from occurring in the first place.

In spite of this fact, there is a large body of research based interventions and strategies that can be easily implemented within schools that does not require the need for a curriculum based bullying prevention program.  As bullying prevention programs typically cost school districts thousands of dollars to implement, there are plenty of strategies that can be used that literally cost nothing.  I have found that schools often  fail to implement these strategies either because they lack awareness of these strategies, the strategies do not comply with their current policies, or they simply choose not to implement these strategies.

Did you know that according to recent research, school bullying is reduced significantly when teachers begin each school day with a class discussion about bullying and its definition?  One of the reasons why this technique reduces bullying behavior is because it brings awareness to the problem.  Additionally, students feel that their teacher is invested in stopping the bullying behavior.

Did you know that when teachers encourage their students to create classroom rules and consequences, misbehavior significantly reduces?  Oftentimes teachers make the mistake of starting the school year by introducing his or her own if set of rules and consequences.  When students feel that they have a say in the behavior management program of their classroom, their behavior automatically improves.

Did you know that when teachers encourage their students to research bullying behavior in literature and report on these incidences during class discussions, this technique significantly reduces bullying behavior?  This strategy is very effective as it combines academics with bullying prevention.

Did you know that recent research reports that organized recess significantly reduces bullying behavior?  This research suggests that working with the students in terms of developing organized play and activities during recess is more effective in curbing bullying behavior than just encouraging them to come up with activities on their own.

Did you know that token economy systems are a very effective tool to reduce bullying behavior?  Naturally, there is a right and a wrong way to implement such a system.  Once implemented correctly, a token economy system could drastically change behaviors during structured and unstructured arenas.

Did you also know that it is important for every school to have their own support group specifically for victims of bullying?   Such a group would provide victims a safe environment to vent their thoughts and feelings as well as teach them bullying prevention, social, and anger management skills.

During this article, I only touched on a few research based bullying prevention strategies and techniques that should be implemented in every school.  Hopefully, this article offers some insight into some very easy, cost effective, and reliable techniques and strategies they could be implemented within the school environment to reduce bullying and violence behavior.  I plan to continue to write additional articles regarding this topic to bring more insight and awareness on effective research based bullying prevention strategies and techniques.

About the Author

Mark Lakewood, CEO is a distinguished bullying prevention expert, author, and speaker with over 20 years of clinical experience as a mental health therapist. He created an effective bullying prevention game for children. For more information on research-based bullying prevention techniques, register to attend the 'Standing Up To Bullying' conference that Mr. Lakewood presents nationwide.

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