Anti-bullying Programs for Middle/High Schools

Padgett, Sharon; Notar, Charles E.
July 2013
National Social Science Journal;2013, Vol. 40 Issue 2, p88
Academic Journal
A review of the literature to answer the question "What anti-bullying programs exist for middle/high schools?" The research indicates there are a variety of commercially available programs and numerous school based programs. The article outlines a select group of these programs. The courts are very clear that all facets of the school community must police and report any bullying behavior that is observed. Policies and programs to reduce bullying in schools are anchored in a common misunderstanding of the notion of bullying. Such policies and programs are utilitarian but misguided (Walton, 2005). It is no longer OK for administrators, teachers, students, parents, and the community to call bullying "horse play." Are there anti-bullying programs in existence for middle/high schools? The answer to the question is yes; there are existing anti-bullying programs. The following discusses twenty six anti-bullying programs found by the authors to have viability in toto, in combination or with modifications to fit the specific school/school system. One of the most famous anti-bullying programs is the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP). OBPP is the granddaddy of the programs and has the most written about it. The OBPP is a whole-school approach implemented and studied in Europe and the United States at all grade levels (Werle, 2006). This program was first established in Bergen, Norway, in 1983-1985. The results from 2500 elementary and junior high school students indicated a 50% reduction in the frequency of students reporting being bullied. Documented results from the U. S. have not been "uniformly consistent." (Olweus & Limber, 2010) One example is in the United States where there was a 25% reduction in rates of bullying behavior but zero percent reduction for victims (Evers et al., 2007). In a study performed in Seattle, Washington, OBPP does have some positive effects based on gender, ethnicity, race, and grades in elementary schools, but it did not have an overall effect in middle schools. (Bauer, Lozano, & Rivara, 2007) The OBPP program follows the steps of a model that includes performing a needs assessment, identifying problems, planning interventions, performing the intervention, evaluating the intervention, and modifying the plan based on evaluation results. The OBPP is truly a school-wide model as it involves all members of the school community. The school community includes administrators, teachers, students, staff, custodians, PTA or PTO, bus drivers, cafeteria personnel, and parents. The OBPP requires multilevel interventions: school, classroom, and individual (Black, Washington, Trent, Harner, & Pollack, 2010). These include planning and implementing the program, surveying all involved groups, establishing and enforcing rules, consistent consequences, positive reinforcements, increased communication, and curriculum development. Advantages of the OBPP model include promotion of a positive learning environment, respect for normal childhood development, and flexibility. OBPP places major demands on the staff and curriculum of schools. As stated earlier the perception of bullying is a major factor in the implementation of any anti-bullying program. Newgent et al. (2009) found that approximately 70% of elementary school staff thought that 10% or less of their students were victims of frequent bullying. In contrast, 33% of the students reported being victims of frequent bullying. Today Zero tolerance is a school-wide method that sends a message to students that certain behaviors will not be tolerated and alternative school, suspension, expulsion, or meetings with law enforcement are the consequences for these behaviors. Zero tolerance is not only used to reduce bullying and violence; it is also enforced when drugs and weapons are found on school grounds. The zero tolerance policy has been viewed with mixed emotions from parents, communities, and school staff. An example of these mixed feelings according to Brownstein (2009) can be illustrated by a thirteen year old boy. He was being bullied and under his school's strict zero tolerance policy that all students involved in a fight received the same punishment. After several fights, the boy got so far behind in school that he failed the 7th grade and eventually dropped out when he got to high school. Zero tolerance is not working according to Chamberlain, (2003). The zero tolerance policy is punitive discipline. Zero tolerance is defined by harsh disciplinary policies which include out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, and transfers to alternative schools. Brown-Dianis (2011), however, lends credence to zero tolerance as a disciplinary policy that can often disrupt the trust between students and adults in school. Gerald Walton (as cited in Bloom, 2008) has reportedly commented that punitive "zero tolerance" approaches to bullying in schools fail to address the cause of bullying, Bullying policies often miss the point. There have been attempts to establish alternatives to the zero tolerance policy. Alternative school, suspension, expulsion are seen as the push-out problem. Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) is an evidence-based, data-driven approach proven to reduce disciplinary incidents, increase a school's sense of safety, improve attendance rates, and support improved academic outcomes (Brownstein, 2009). Another alternative to zero tolerance is the implementation of behavior contracts that list behaviors that are expected from students and the consequences for other disciplinary behaviors. For offences deemed not severe, after-school detention is another alternative instead of suspension and expulsion. Bryn (2011) says the two-year anti-bullying program, "Stop Bullying Now and Lend a Hand," has been "an overwhelming success" both in increasing public awareness and preventing bullying. The program teaches students that bullying is not simply a rite of passage, but there are acceptable codes of conduct and consequences for violating those codes. Stop Bullying Now! is a program to increase awareness of the problem of bullying and related research findings, and to disseminate evidence-based approaches to prevention. The program draws on special issues as the way to explore the social context of bullying. Bryn (2011) describes the process used to develop the Stop Bullying Now! campaign as an interagency approach to bullying prevention, and explores social marketing and media activities aimed to prevent bullying on a national scale. Davis and Nixon (2011) report the Youth Voice research project asked frequently bullied students in middle schools and high schools what strategies helped them to prevent bullying and deal with the bullying in a positive way. The students said the best ways to prevent bullying usually involves seeking help from friends and adults. Less effective methods included managing the problem on one's own and reminding one's self that fault lies with the bully and not the victim. School staff members and peers can help prevent bullying. Mah's Ninety-Second-a-Day Self-Esteem Prescription Plan (2009) improves children's self-views by increasing the sensitivity and expertise that educators need to help children with students with exceptionalities be successful in school. Getting Beyond Bullying and Exclusion, PreK-5 (Mah, 2009) is a book to help teachers' understanding of common challenges of how children with students with exceptionalities can become easy targets for bullies. The reason for this approach is to show how adults can inadvertently unintentionally foster the development of victim behavior in students with exceptionalities children. They can also contribute to the development of bullying personalities. Methods for helping children manage emotions and build on their strengths through the program is described in the book. It also discusses the following issues: bullying styles of males and female; how teachers can prevent and stop bullying; ways for early intervention; and how a negative dynamic can progress into middle or high school. Stansberry-Brusnahan and& Neilsen-Gatti (2009) discusses the anti-bullying program Schoolwide Positive Behavior Supports (SWPBS). This program addresses parental concerns that their children with students with exceptionalities are put at risk of being bullied and how the schools will protect their vulnerable children. Parental concerns of children who exhibit challenging behaviors being disciplined unfairly is also addressed. SWPBS creates an environment that increases the effectiveness of teaching and learning. The program is based on the team approach. The team includes parents and develops culturally responsive proactive strategies to teach students positive behaviors. Bystanders are the most pivotal group of bullying influencers since youth are so heavily influenced by their peers according to Slaby, Wilson- Brewer, and Dash (2011). When you are standing by and watching bullying you are letting it happen in your community; but if you stand up, bullies do not have a chance. Bullies would not even consider harassing others if they thought it would not go over well Slaby, Wilson-Brewer, and Dash says he has many reports of students who have been trained in Aggressors, Victim and Bystanders curriculum that helps defuse bullying situations. Beale and Scott (2001) present the anti-bullying program Bullybusters initiated by counselors and drama staff in a middle school. Bullybusters is a play to educate both teachers and students on the recognition and effects of bullying. Students are given an opportunity to discuss their feelings and provide alternate ways of handling bullying situations after the play. The results are attributed to a whole school approach where the principal, teachers, parents, and students are all involved in data collection and the implementation of a zero tolerance policy. The flexibility of the program allowed it to be tailored to the school's individual needs. The program showed a 20% reduction in the number of bullying incidents at the middle school. Carney and Nottis (2008) constructed a Bully Busters Program to be used in a summer day camp. Bully Busters is a group-based, teacher-targeted bullying reduction program that meets the educational, cultural, and fiscal needs of the school systems in the United States (Raczynski, Bell, & Horne, 2008). The Bully Busters program is based on the fact that aggression and bullying are behaviors born of social skills deficits. The best way to reduce aggression and bullying behaviors in schools is through increased awareness, knowledge and efficacy of teachers regarding how they deal with school based aggression and bullying. The results from the summer camp showed a decrease in total bullying behavior as the summer progressed. Walk away, Ignore, Talk, Seek help (WITS) is another program to change the culture of bullying according to Leff, et al, (2010) discusses the program Friend to Friend that also is based on changing the culture of bullying. The Preventing Relational Aggression in Schools Everyday (PRAISE) Program was developed within the same context as the "Friend to Friend Program (F2F) intervention". Both of these programs make use of "culturally specific cartoons" in a small group setting with relationally aggressive girls. In transitioning from F2F to PRAISE, there were several challenges involved according to Leff, et. al, (2010). Vannini et al (2011) examined a new immersive learning intervention called FearNot! (Fun with Empathic Agents to achieve Novel Outcomes in Teaching) that can be used in school and during the summer. Outside of school children spend time in relatively unstructured community environments, with minimally trained staff. FearNot! is designed to enhance the problem solving skills of current or potential victims of bullying through the encouragement of students to generate and evaluate a wide range of responses to bullying. FearNot! shows that virtual learning can reduce victimization, especially among children who are already experiencing repeated bullying. The advantages of the program are safety, engagement, and a low-cost and time-efficient way of coaching children to cope with different situations. McGraw (2011) details the Band Around Sevies program primarily used with eighth graders who sign a pledge that they will not bully or harass others; nor will they support it. They commit to wear a bracelet which identifies them as someone who will assist their school in being a safe and supportive place. Steps to Respect: A Bullying Prevention Program is a school-wide program that explicitly addresses relational aggression. Malicious gossip and social exclusion are two examples of relational aggression. The program deals with the development of universal intervention, retaliation beliefs, and supportive friends. (Low, Frey, & Brockman, 2010). There is a program for at-risk kindergarten children called First Step to Success. It provides a collaborative home-school intervention that engages parents and caregivers, teachers, and peers or classmates in preventing antisocial behavior. (Walker, Stiller, & Golly, 1999). Wood Oaks Junior High School's Using Literature to Fight Bullying defines literacy as the ability to use written and spoken language to help understand the bullying behavior of individuals through literature that also improves reading comprehension and peer relationships. The program uses the classroom, the subject matter, and readable and relevant literary stories as a means to undercut the power and presence of bullies at school (Hillsberg & Spak, 2006) A similar approach is to use a literary unit using a novel titled Crash that deals directly with the issue of bullying as told from the perspective of a bully. Bullying is able to be brought up directly in the classroom. Crash was well received by the students who were assigned to read it, and most reported that the level of bullying that took place in the classroom was reduced significantly after being exposed to the material. While the unit was used in a drama class it was also used in a summer camp setting. (Quinn, Barone, Kearns, Stackhouse, & Zimmerman, 2003) Group treatment of bullies, like group treatment of children with conduct disorders in general, is usually ineffective. Whether they encourage one another or blame and confront one another, their behavior rarely changes. Groups of victims may be more helpful because they are consoled and may gain confidence by learning their experiences are not unique and they are not uniquely deficient. (Harvard Medical School Health, 2001). According to Lines (2005) A Peer Counseling Service in a Secondary School to Combat Bullying: Issues in Planning and Ongoing Management is a program that explores the role of a peer counseling service, the selected model, the most suitable room location, and the most appropriate time for counseling to take place in secondary schools. In addition, counseling for parents may help them to listen both to what the child says and to what he or she cannot express. (Mishna, 2003). Glasgow and Whitney (2009) emphasize that students learn best when families and schools work together to promote student achievement. Families are the focus of What Successful Schools Do to Involve Families and offer how to effectively partner with nonmainstream or nontraditional family groups and the school. The book offers how-to applications, tips, precautions, and additional resources that go beyond open houses, parent-teacher conferences, and fundraising efforts. The federal government would want to add to the prevention/intervention programs already listed. Bully Proofing Your School is designed for elementary and middle school settings. A comprehensive school climate program to shift the power away from bullies and into the hands of the caring majority of students. BullySafe is a comprehensive and provides common terminology, concepts, and strategies for bullying prevention and intervention for all involved. The Don't Laugh at Me Program (DLAM) is designed to reduce the emotional and physical cruelty children can inflict on one another. Peaceful Schools Project/Menninger Clinic focuses only on the elementary level grades (K-5). Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) a comprehensive multiyear format curriculum to promote emotional and social competencies and reducing aggression in elementary school-age children. According to the CQ Researcher (2005) the key to the success of any program is a change in the behavior of school bullies and the culture within the school. Experts agree that no matter what program is used, its effectiveness depends on school administrators' level of commitment. Success is not dependent upon correct content of the programs. What does seem to make a difference is how thoroughly the program is supported and implemented. A lot of work is still needed to motivate the schools to address this problem.


Related Articles

  • Bullying & Bias: Making schools safe for gay students. Fleming, James // Leadership;Mar/Apr2012, Vol. 41 Issue 4, p12 

    The article offers the author's insights on the members of Gay Straight Alliances (GSA) in California. The author states that the students on campuses with GSA feel safe at school and experience less exposure to bullying and bias-related harassment. He says that the GSA club on campuses aims to...

  • Taking a Stand. McCann, Samantha // Scholastic News -- Edition 5/6;10/27/2014, Vol. 83 Issue 7, p4 

    The article features the Be a Buddy, Not a Bully program created by Isabella Griffin, a student at Alamosa Elementary School in Colorado. It mentions the harassment and bullying experienced by Griffin in third grade, her realization of the importance of standing up for others after helping a...

  • Creating the cougar watch: Learning to be proactive against bullying in schools. Smith, Robert W.; Smith, Kayce // Middle School Journal;Sep2014, Vol. 46 Issue 1, p13 

    Despite reticence from the central office, strong middle level teacher leaders worked together to develop an effective anti-bullying program that addresses a significant need for safety and inclusion for all middle school students.

  • Use Another Word. Meltzoff, Nancy // Skipping Stones;Jan/Feb2008, Vol. 20 Issue 1, p30 

    The article offers information on the "Use Another Word" campaign led by students at Springfield High School in Springfield, Oregon, to improve the school environment by eliminating the use of disrespectful language in hallways. The student leaders took data on the kinds of disrespectful...

  • Words Can Hurt Forever. Garbarino, James; deLara, Ellen // Educational Leadership;Mar2003, Vol. 60 Issue 6, p18 

    Discusses the role of adults in the protection of middle and high school students against verbal harassment and emotional violence. Information on the forms of bullying; Components of appropriate supervision in middle and high schools; Consequences of lack of action towards bullying and other...

  • Urban Renewal And Rural Schools Make The Grade. Sanders, Elizabeth // Grand Rapids Business Journal;10/9/2006, Vol. 24 Issue 41, pB19 

    The article focuses on school buildings renovated and constructed in Grand Rapids, Michigan. URS Corp. has the goals of sustainability and collaboration in mind in constructing Alger Middle School and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified Forest Hills Eastern High School/Middle...

  • BULLYING AT SCHOOL: ANALYSIS OF CONFLICT RELATIONS BETWEEN ADOLESCENTS. Cordeiro Sampaio, Julliane Messias; Ribeiro Gerolim, Fernanda; Malta de Mello, Flávia Carvalho; Mariano, Andréa Cristina; Iossi Silva, Marta Angélica // Journal of Nursing UFPE / Revista de Enfermagem UFPE;Apr2015, Vol. 9 Issue 4, p7264 

    No abstract available.

  • Adult Bullying. WEBER, MICHAEL R. // Education Digest;Mar2015, Vol. 80 Issue 7, p32 

    The article discusses the growing issue of adult bullying in schools across the U.S. It discusses the different types of adult bully including the ones which is characterized by an inferiority complex, lack of compassion or remorse for their harassing and negative behavior, and a personality...

  • The POWER of the CIRCLE. Mirsky, Laura // Educational Leadership;Summer2014, Vol. 71 Issue 9, p51 

    The article discusses the use of classroom discussion, particularly with students sitting in a circle, as a restorative tool to build relationships within a school and improve school culture. Topics addressed include the use of discussion circles at Warren G. Harding Middle School in...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics