Research Proposal: Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in New Jersey

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Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in New Jersey

This work intends to analyze the bullying prevention and intervention program being used in New Jersey schools and will do so through a review of the Federal Criteria for such programs and the characteristics of the Olweus Bullying Prevention and Intervention Program. The work of Sampson (nd) entitled: "Bullying in Schools," a publication of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, states that there are two key components to bullying:

(1) repeated harmful acts; and (2) an imbalance of power. Bullying involves "repeated physical, verbal or psychological attacks or intimidation directed against a victim who cannot properly defend him- or herself because of size or strength, or because the victim is outnumbered or less psychologically resilient." (Sampson, nd)

Acts of bullying include those of "assault, tripping, intimidation, rumor-spreading and isolation, demands for money, destruction of property, theft of valued possessions, destruction of another's work and name-calling." (Sampson, nd)

Other behaviors that are recognized as forms of bullying in the United States are the following:

(1) sexual harassment (repeated exhibitionism, voyeurism, sexual propositioning, and sexual abuse involving unwanted physical contact;

(2) ostracism based on perceived sexual orientations; and (3) hazing (upper level high school athletes imposing painfully embarrassing initiation rituals on their new freshmen teammates). (Sampson, nd)

I. New Jersey's Anti-Bullying Program

In 2002, an anti-bullying bill was signed into law in the State of New Jersey. This law makes a requirement of each school district to institute and keep in place consistent policies regarding bullying that includes the "...definitions, consequences and procedures for reporting and investigating incidents."(U.S. Department of Education, 2009) the Olweus program is one that focuses not only on the individual but also on the system or the school environment as systemic interventions are found to be necessary since students "often lack freedom to control their environment." (Boyle, 2005)

At the system-level it is reported that the most widely studied of all bullying prevention programs and the program that is most empirically validated is the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. This program is characterized by "positive involvement by adults in the school system" and as well it sets specific limits to what is constituted as unacceptable behavior. Also characterizing this program is "consistent negative consequences for rule violation and positive adult role models." (Boyle, 2005) in addition the Olweus program has as its focus "both prevention as well as intervention to reduce or eliminate current bullying." (Boyle, 2005)

The Olweus program is the only bullying prevention program that has received recognition as a national model and a Blueprint Violence Prevention Program by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Replication studies have reported that the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program significantly reduces bullying behaviors and this includes studies conducted in the United States and in Europe as reported in Olweus, et al. (1999) and reported by Boyle (2005)

The Olweus program uses 'cognitive restructuring' to challenge the dysfunctional thoughts of bullies and specifically in regards to their "positive attitudes toward the use of violence." (Boyle, 2005) Emphasis is placed on the development of "empathy toward others generally, and for particular targets." (Boyle, 2005) the Olweus program begins work with parents immediately in educating them about the critical nature of the behavior of the bully being changed so that a long-term pattern of antisocial development is avoided.

II. Federal Criteria for Identification of Effective Programs

There are specific criteria that states have set for identification of effective programs for prevention of violence. These criteria are inclusive of the following categories and accompanying components:

(1) Quality of Program Design: "Program goals and objectives are clear and appropriate for the target population; Program content and methods address the needs of and effectively engage the target population; the program's underlying rationale is well-articulated, and its content and methods are aligned with its goals; and the program is a complete intervention, rather than a single component." (U.S. Department of Education, 2009)

(2) Quality of Research Design: "Program evaluation includes pre- and post-testing with a control or comparison group; Program evaluation includes relevant, reliable, valid, and appropriately administered outcome measures; Data analysis was technically adequate and appropriate; and evaluation studies had low rates of participant attrition." (U.S. Department of Education, 2009)

(3) Evidence of Program Efficacy: "The intervention produced positive change in scientifically established risk and protective factors; the intervention reduced or delayed the onset, prevalence, and/or individual rates of risk behaviors; and follow-up measurement provides evidence of sustained program impact." (U.S. Department of Education, 2009)

(4) Capacity for Replication and Dissemination: "The program includes high-quality program materials (e.g., manuals), training, and technical assistance; the program includes tools and procedures to monitor the fidelity of implementation and evaluate program outcomes; the program has been replicated and produced similar positive results, and these replications have been documented; and evaluation findings have been published or accepted for publication by a peer- reviewed journal." (U.S. Department of Education, 2009)

III. New Jersey Olweus Program SWOT

The first requirement indicated is that of the bullying prevention and intervention program 'quality' in terms of its design. The Olweus Bullying Prevention and Intervention Program meets this requirement since as noted in this study not only are the programs goals and objectives clearly stated the program is a complete intervention involving all related parties including students, teachers, parents and is comprised of several components rather than one single component. The second criteria required on the Federal level is that of quality of research design. It has been clearly demonstrated that the Olweus program meets these guidelines for the reasons as follows which have been noted in this brief analysis:

(1) the Olweus program is the only bullying prevention program that has received recognition as a national model and a Blueprint Violence Prevention Program by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; for Substance Abuse Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and (2) Replication studies have reported that the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program significantly reduces bullying behaviors and this includes studies conducted in the United States and in Europe as reported in Olweus, et al. (1999) and reported by Boyle (2005);

The third federal requirement is that of Evidence of Program Efficacy: "The intervention produced positive change in scientifically established risk and protective factors; the intervention reduced or delayed the onset, prevalence, and/or individual rates of risk behaviors; and follow-up measurement provides evidence of sustained program impact." (U.S. Department of Education, 2009) There does not appear to have been sufficient time to pass for this program to be specifically evaluated in New Jersey schools. However, positive results have been reported elsewhere.

According to the work of Mattaini and McGuire (2006) entitled: "Behavioral Strategies for Constructing Nonviolent Cultures with Youth" the bullying prevention intervention that has been best-studied is the Bullying Prevention Program developed by Olweus (1993) which is stated to be "...highly consistent with behavioral principles, incorporating technologies such as increasing praise, role-playing, and consistent enforcement of rules."

Stated to be among the levels that the Olweus program targets are those of: (1) organization-wide efforts (e.g., school conference day on bullying), (2) classroom strategies (e.g., group contingencies), (3) involvement of parents (e.g., parent circles to discuss responses to bullying problems), and (4) strategies for work with individuals involved, both victims and perpetrators. (Mattaini and McGuire, 2006)

It is related that the Olweus program makes provision of specific techniques which are stated to "...overlap the common behavioral strategies described above, but generally target bullying behaviors specifically." (Mattaini and McGuire, 2006) in addition, this program is stated to emphasize "...the shared responsibility of everyone in the setting to deal with the problem, for example by establishing the expectation that adults will actively intervene (and teaching them how to do so), and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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