Bullying and Kids - The Facts
School Bullying Policies
By Lisa Murphy
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How does your child’s school anti-bully policy measure up?
Thanks to increasing awareness about the prevalence and harmful effects of bullying, many schools have some form of anti-bullying education or policy. But research suggests that some programs are much more effective at decreasing bullying than others. How does your child's school rate? Ask these questions:
1. Is the whole school involved? "Bullying is a systemic problem, so it needs a systemic solution," says Dr. Vreeman. A recent scientific review that she conducted found that anti-bullying programs involving the whole school, including administrators, teachers, parents and others, decreased bullying significantly more often than interventions such as classroom-based educational programs or social skills groups involving targeted children. "Zero tolerance" policies, where bullies are suspended or expelled, are even less helpful. "These have very bad results for the children involved, but they don't do much to prevent others from bullying," adds Dr. Vreeman.
If your child's school doesn't have a whole-school policy, start a coordinating committee that includes an administrator, a teacher from each grade, a non-teacher representative, a school counselor and a parent. For these and other recommendations, review "Best Practice in Bullying Prevention & Intervention" part of the Stop Bullying Now campaign.
2. What kind of bullying is happening in the school, and where? Bullying can occur even at the "best" schools, but less than half of kids will tell an adult when it happens. An anonymous student survey, available at Stop Bullying Now, can help you identify problems and "hot spots" within the school where bullying often takes place, enabling adults to increase their presence there.
3. Is the school staff trained to prevent bullying? Training can help staffers recognize and prevent bullying, as well as stop it when it's occurring and handle the aftermath. Trained adults take all reports of bullying, even name calling, seriously, according to "First steps to stop bullying: Adults helping children aged 4 to 11" from Public Safety Canada.
4. Are students and parents aware of the consequences of bullying? Anti-bullying and cyber-bullying information and policies should be posted and discussed with parents and students, according to Stop Bullying Now. "Safe schools are everyone's responsibility - parents, teachers, administrators, and pediatricians," agrees Dr. Vreeman. "There are no quick solutions, but when we fail to recognize and stop bullying behavior, we are actually promoting violence."
More! Fight back and get informed with our bullying resources.