TITLE

INVOLVING COMMUNITY TO STRENGTHEN A SUCCESSFUL MIDDLE SCHOOL BULLYING PROGRAM

AUTHOR(S)
Hester, Jackie; Bolen, Yvette; Hyde, Lisa
PUB. DATE
September 2014
SOURCE
Review of Higher Education & Self-Learning;2014, Vol. 7 Issue 25, p76
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
In middle schools and high schools across America, a troubling social epidemic continues to rise among adolescents and teens: bullying. According to the American Psychological Association, it is estimated that approximately 70% of all adolescent students experience bullying; however, only 20-40% report it. The short-term and long-term implications for victims of bullying are massive: anxiety, anger, depression, and suicide are among an exhaustive list of the negative consequences. To combat this prevalent dilemma in schools, there is active research in the prevention of bullying. Among those, one middle school in a rural school system in North Alabama implemented an award-winning bullying program that not only involved administrators and teachers but the surrounding community as well. The primary focus was to decrease the number of bullying incidents which occur during school hours. The program, P.R.E.S.S., includes five overarching strategies to prevent bullying within the school, including an interconnected web of rapport and support for the students from staff, teaching faculty, and administration. The likelihood of a student discussing a bullying incident with an adult in the building is significantly raised due to providing an environment of safety and trust. For students to report bullying, anonymity must be integral in the reporting process. The P.R.E.S.S. program provides a "bullying alert" button on the school's website, which then provides a Google Docs form for anyone to report an incident of bullying to and from school as well as during school hours. Educating students, faculty, and parents about bullying was also a strategy in the prevention and intervention of bullying incidents. The assistant principal led students through active working sessions on various topics of bullying such as the definition of bullying, what bullying involves, and how to report bullying. Parents and faculty were also provided information regarding bullying in a similar format with further focus on cyber bullying and responsible use of social media. A fourth element of the P.R.E.S.S. program involves the belief that students as bystanders of bullying must stand up and do something. As simple as this statement sounds, it may be difficult for students to speak up in front of their peers in fear of their own retaliation. When a school builds a sense of community, referring back to the importance of building relationships among stakeholders and students, a bystander may feel more comfortable to take action against bullying. Lastly, students voiced concern regarding the label of being a "snitch." In order to protect the identity of the student reporting the bullying incident, administrators ensured multiple opportunities for communication through the use of notepads dispersed throughout the school building. The notepads were used for writing informal reports that could be slid under an administrator's or counselor's door. Proactive bullying programs such as P.R.E.S.S. must be comprehensive by addressing current issues within the school and by promoting the importance of better peer relations in an effort to minimize the potential for future bullying events. By building a sense of community within the school, bullying can become a less pervasive problem.
ACCESSION #
109210426

 

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