My thirteen-year-old is typically not impressed with school assemblies that attempt to make him a better person. Several of these assemblies have dealt with bullying problems in schools and how kids can help to provide a bully-free environment. Unfortunately he is not impressed with this kind of knowledge either.
Maybe it's because he is a boy (and that he tends to tune out any voice belonging to anyone over the age of 25). According to one study on the effects of bully prevention programs, middle school girls were positively influenced more than the boys after one year. According to researcher Nancy Bowllan, the program had negligible effect on the boys. The teachers felt that they were more effective at identifying bullies, talking to bullies, and conversing with tormented students.
In other words, those who listened benefited!
But do all programs have such mixed results? This is an important question, considering that many states are requiring their school districts to implement anti-bullying programs. In the past, many anti-bully programs have produced few positive effects, according to Kansas University professor Todd Little.
However, there is hope for the bullied, for a recent Finnish anti-bully program has halved the risk of being tormented in after just one year of implementation. The program, called KiVA, includes videos, computer games, posters, and role-playing. Small teams of trained teachers work to address specific incidents of bullying.
The program also emphasizes striving for a bully-free environment--one that encourages bystanders to stand up to the tormentors of the school. Children and teachers need to be educated about the make-up of a typical bully.
"People have traditionally framed bullying as social incompetence, thinking that bullies have low self-esteem or impulse problems," said Patricia Hawley, KU associate professor of developmental psychology. "But recent research shows that bullying perpetrators can be socially competent and can win esteem from their peers."
The key is to keep others from idolizing bullies in order to demolish their support system which would create a more peaceful environment.
The University of Kansas plans to help implement the Finnish program into neighboring schools as soon as the 2012-2013 school year.
Let's hope it works! And the kids listen!
Keep Kicking Those Bullies!