Why some school bullying programs aren’t working
Bullying prevention programs are intended to deter bullying. The programs are designed to help protect kids from repeated harassment or physical and emotional attacks. However, a new study reveals that students who attend schools with anti-bullying programs may be more likely to be victims of bullying than students at schools without these programs.
The study, published online in September in the Journal of Criminology, analyzed data from the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children 2005-2006 U.S. study, which sampled 7,001 students between the ages of 12 and 18 from 195 different schools.
Researchers found that the majority of schools in the sample have bullying prevention programs as well as security measures such as a closed campus, visitor check-in and bag/locker checks.
Of the students sampled, nearly 55 percent reported experiencing some type of victimization by a peer during the school year. Among those bullied, slightly more than half had been emotionally bullied (name-calling, subjects of rumors or ignored) and 14 percent had been physically bullied (being hit, kicked, pushed, shoved or locked indoors).
“One possible reason for this is that the students who are victimizing their peers have learned the language from these anti-bullying campaigns and programs,” said lead study author Seokjin Jeong in a statement.
“The schools with interventions say, ‘You shouldn’t do this,’ or ‘You shouldn’t do that.’ But through the programs, the students become highly exposed to what a bully is and they know what to do or say when questioned by parents or teachers,” said Jeong, an assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at University of Texas Arlington.
According to the study, approximately, 1.5 million school-aged adolescents report they have been a victim of violence while at school. Seventy-five percent of U.S. public school principals also cited that their school reported one or more violent incidents to the police and 25 percent of public schools reported school bullying on a daily or weekly basis.
The study results suggested that future attention should be paid to sophisticated strategies rather than just implementation of bullying prevention programs along with school security measures such as guards, metal detectors, and bag and locker searches.
Jeong said since bullying is a relationship problem, researchers need to better identify the bully-victim dynamics to develop prevention policies accordingly.
“This important discovery will result in improvements in health, in learning, and in relationships with unlimited positive impact,” added Beth Wright, dean of the University of Texas Arlington College of Liberal Arts.
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