With the number of bullying-related documentaries and case studies that are sweeping the nation, it is no surprise that schools are working hard to step up their game to wipe out bullying. But for such a widespread issue, is it really that easy? Many approaches have, up until recently, focused on working with individual bullies and victims. Even now, many bullying programs remain focused on isolated cases.
Only 55% of teachers in the United States have actually received training on bullying, even though a third of students experience bullying within their own classrooms, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. It does not take an expert to show that these facts and figures prove that bullying is definitely not restricted to individual cases and that sometimes these behaviors take place even under the supervision of responsible adults. These NECS statistics do not even take into account the bullying that goes on outside of the classroom.
According to an article from Education World, successful bullying interventions hold educators accountable for maintaining a safe and cooperative classroom. For an intervention program to be effective, adults must work not only with individual bullies and victims – they must also target entire classrooms and, indeed, whole school populations.
The US Department of Education believes in a similar two-part model and has even released some tools and resources for educators to use in their own schools. Dr. Dan Olweus, a psychologist originally from Sweden, has devoted the past several decades to researching children and bullying, as well as developing effective interventions. According to Dr. Olweus, bullying is such a widespread issue that he believes that interventions should not only include the whole school, but should begin at the institutional level.
Without feedback from students, no bullying intervention can even begin to take off. As such, any bullying intervention program should start with a survey of the entire school to see what the climate is like. Many students will disclose that they have been victims of peer bullying and some will even admit to being complicit in a bullying problem.
With enough information to proceed, the US Department of Education recommends educating the adults first. According to US Department of Education bullying coordinator, Deborah Temkin, turning around the nationwide bullying problem will start from the bottom up: adults need to learn how to stop bullying before it starts.
This is easier said than done but there are a number of resources available from the US Department of Education and a number of experts have also developed their own resources, many of which are available for free.
For more information on the bullying problem in the United States, as well as to access resources on interventions for bullying, see EducationWorld.com and the website of the US Department of Education.