This month is anti-bully month and according to a new study, all this awareness of bullying may actually be making things worse! That’s right, schools with no programs have less bullying than those with the programs. Put up a poster to prevent bullying and you just may increase the behavior!
According to a study conducted at the University of Texas at Arlington and published in the Journal of Criminology (September, 2013), students at anti-bullying initiative schools are MORE likely to be bullied. The reason according to bullying expert Start Twemlow, whenever you target a group of specific people, things get worse. These programs may actually be giving bullies ideas on how to bully better. Not exactly the intended impact when it comes to prevention!
Zero tolerance policies are not working either. In fact, the NEA gives these policies a big F for effectiveness as well.
And all the awareness leads to better reporting, which may look like the problem is on the rise.
Twemlow, a bullying expert, says our current efforts should consider a name change from anti-bullying to pro-kindness, not exactly a sizzling campaign you could excite people to support, but more indicative of the type of change really needed.
Bullying, he contends, is more about the adults, the resources that schools can’t afford, and over hauling the school’s climate and leadership. In other words, the school’s norms, values, and expectations would change in a positive way to support prosocial behavior. Kindness would be promoted. Now there is a novel thought!
So back to the drawing board for educators. Semantics aside, the real problem is a change of heart. Kindness is a fruit of the spirit. Maybe someone should suggest that taking God out of the schools may also have had an effect no one saw coming!