Thesis: Are School-Based Anti-Bullying Programs Decreasing the Rate of Victimization?

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School-Based Bullying

Prevention Programs

The problem regarding how schools may best make their environments physically and emotionally safe leads to the question: Does a school-based program decrease victimization? This leading question guiding the literature review addresses a critical concern challenging school officials and others interested in helping to ensure the safety and emotional well-being of youth. Determining what works best to confront violence and students being victimized, are interventions that help the child become stronger within himself. The program Olweus developed, which a number of school officials base their school-wide anti-bullying programs, on depicts an excellent example of one effective approach to counter bullying, victimization and violence.

During the study's literature review which examines the primary research question: Does a school-based program decrease victimization?, the researcher utilizes a thematic approach. The researcher initially defines the word bully and then examines the following four school-based programs:

1. Olweus Bully Prevention Program;

2. Bully No More;

3. Dare;

4. Dare to Care-Bully Proofing Your School.

The researcher also relates history and explanation of each program and compares and contrasts them as well as discusses numerous results. Ultimately, the researcher argues, the answer to the question leading the literature review merits the answer: "Depends…."

LITERATURE REVIEW

"Efforts to curb bullying should include the peer group in the form of a whole-school approach"

(Beran, Tutty, & Steinrath, 2004, ¶ 3).

Introduction

On April 20, 1999, two "bullied outcasts," Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, repeatedly fired automatic weapons and set off explosives to kill 13 and injure 24 other students at Columbine High School as they sought revenge on jocks, who had bullied them in the past, and minorities. In the news article, "Surviving Columbine: What we got wrong," Susan Donaldson James (2009) corrects this particular myth regarding the horrific tragedy that physically and emotionally scarred students and their families. Myths like the one, introducing this literature review, which students and adults parroted, persist regarding the killers' motivations because the media reportedly reported the facts all wrong. Later, the media reported that bullying did not figure into the incident, that "Eric Harris was a psychopath - controlling, manipulative and sadistic; Dylan Klebold was a lonely depressive, full of suppressed emotional rage" (James, Columbine, 10 Years Later, ¶ 7). The media did "get right," however, the fact that bullying does harm students.

The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center (2007) reports that approximately the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center 30% of youth in the United States (U.S.); more than 5.7 million are involved in bullying each year. The youth may be a direct or indirect target of bullying, the individual instigating the bullying, or both. In one contemporary national survey of students attending grades 6-10, 13% of participants reported bullying others; "11% reported being the target of bullies, and another 6% said that they bullied others and were bullied themselves" (National Youth Violence…, Prevalence Section,, ¶ 1). To effectively counter shootings and bullying in schools, Jack Levin, Northeastern University mass murder expert, who writes about Columbine for Behavior Science Magazine, schools need to implement effective programs (James, 2009).

The problem regarding how schools may best make their environments physically and emotionally safe leads to the question: Does a school-based program decrease victimization? This leading question guiding the literature review addresses a critical concern challenging school officials and others interested in helping to ensure the safety and emotional well-being of youth. In some situations, as Levin asserts, "The law and order approach instituted in schools doesn't work very well" (Levin, as cited in James, 2009, ¶ 5). What works to confront bullying, violence and victimization, Dorothy Otnow Lewis, M.D. (1992) appears to suggest in the study, "From abuse to violence: Psycholophysiological consequences of maltreatment," are interventions that help the child become less impulsive and less irritable; that "enhance a child's sense of security, alleviate paranoid feelings, improve cognition and verbal expressiveness, and encourage recognition of one's own pain and the pain of others" (p. 389). In the journal article, "An evaluation of a bullying prevention program for elementary schools," Tanya N. Beran and Leslie Tutty, both with the University of Calgary and Greg Steinrath (2004), Calgary Family Services, Alberta, contend that the program Olweus developed, which a number of school officials base their school-wide anti-bullying programs, on depicts an excellent example of one effective approach to counter bullying, violence, and victimization.

During the study's literature review which examines the primary research question: Does a school-based program decrease victimization?, the researcher utilizes a thematic approach. The researcher initially defines the word bully and then examines the following four school-based programs:

1. Olweus Bully Prevention Program;

2. Bully No More;

3. Dare;

4. Dare to Care-Bully Proofing Your School.

The researcher also relates history and explanation of each program and compares and contrasts them as well as discusses numerous results.

Definition of Bully

Bullying, commonly defined as the continuous aggression toward a school peer, unable or willing to defend him/herself, includes a number of types of bullying; two being direct bullying and in-direct bullying. Beran, Tutty, and Steinrath (2004) state that d physical as well as verbal abuse depicts direct forms of bullying. "Actively isolating an individual from the peer group (exclusionary) and spreading rumors" (Beran, Tutty, & Steinrath, ¶ 3) mirror indirect forms of bullying. "Bullying victimizes both the children who are directly targeted and those who witness others being bullied" (Ibid). Individuals who witness victims of bullying often become extremely uncomfortable and may experience stress-related symptoms when bullying incidences occurs.

Bullying in schools does not constitute a new phenomenon; however, it did not become a significant research topic until the early 1970s. Dan Olweus (2001) explains in the article, "Bullying at school: Tackling the problem," bullying research originally merited attention in Scandinavia. "By the 1980s [, however,] bullying among schoolchildren had attracted wider attention in countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States" (Olweus, ¶ 2). According to Olweus, as research expanded, a much broader definition of bullying evolved to include a school peer repeatedly being exposed to adverse actions by one or more students. These actions may include the bully making rude faces or gestures, initiating negative physical contact or abuse and verbally abusing the individual.

Another form of bullying may entail one student spreading untruths or rumors about another student. Olweus (2001) asserts that "spreading rumors and excluding the victim from a group are also common forms [of bullying]. Bullying also entails an imbalance in strength between the bullies and the victim... [;] what experts call an asymmetric power relationship" (¶ 3). Researchers relate a myriad of misconceptions about the root causes of bullying behavior. Many of the proposed theories, nevertheless, do not have credible evidence to support their claims. One typical misconception is that bullying only occurs in large classrooms or schools. Another common misconception asserts that students bully other students to compete for grades or more attention from teachers or school workers.

One more classic misconception about bullies contends that underneath their tough exterior, bullies typically have extremely low self-esteem; that they actually feel insecure about themselves. Olweus (2001) explains that "these views are no more accurate than the stereotype that students who are fat, red-haired and wear glasses are particularly likely to become victims of bullying" (Some Myths section, ¶ 1). Certain personality traits combined with the way a student reacts in specific situations, particularly with large stature boys, that can help define or develop an individual into a bully. In addition, numerous influences in the environment may cause an individual to depict signs of bullying behavior. One of these influences may be the teachers' attitude, and the way he or she supervises their students.

In the study, "Definitions of Bullying: A comparison of terms used, and age and gender differences, in a fourteen-county international comparison," Peter K. Smith et al. (2002) report that in reference to bullying:

Heinemann used the Norwegian term mobbning, referring to group violence against a deviant individual that occurs suddenly and subsides suddenly. Olweus first used the term, but subsequently extended the definition to include systematic one-on-one attacks of a stronger child against a weaker child. The emphasis of earlier work on bullying was of physical bullying and verbal taunting done directly by the bully or bullies to the victim. Olweus' earlier work did not fully recognize the extent of indirect bullying. However, the indirect aggression as a category was shown by the research of Bjorkqvist and colleagues. They distinguished direct physical aggression (such as punching) and direct verbal aggression (such as name calling), as well as indirect aggression. Indirect aggression, characterized by its somewhat covert nature and use of third parties, had principal forms of gossiping and spreading rumors, and social exclusion (deliberately not allowing a person into a group). (Smith et al., 2002, p. 1119).

Smith et al. (2002) use the cartoon methodology to compare 67 terms from 14 countries; examining the meaning attributed to the word "bullying" and associated expressions in 13 major languages (10 Indo-European,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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