nurturing positive power an antidote to bullying
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NURTURING POSITIVE POWER: An Antidote to Bullying. Lorna Martin [email protected] What do we know about the Positive Power?. Contagious Relieves stress Self-fulfilling Cost-effective Supports an equal power base Can be learned at all ages and stages. What do we know about Bullying?.

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what do we know about the positive power
What do we know about the Positive Power?
  • Contagious
  • Relieves stress
  • Self-fulfilling
  • Cost-effective
  • Supports an equal power base
  • Can be learned at all ages and stages
what do we know about bullying
What do we know about Bullying?
  • Bullying involves unequal power and is anti-social
  • Bullying and victimization do not occur in isolation
  • Interventions with the bully and/or victim are necessary but not sufficient for change
  • Bullying is societal and learned
  • Change must be societal, systemic to be effective
what do we know about school safety
What do we know about school safety?
  • Schools have critical incident plans, tragic event protocols, and codes of conduct to assist them when safety is a concern
  • Two rare tragedies (Columbine and Taber) have heightened awareness
  • Schools have strict supervision regimens, causing the classroom to remain one of the safest places for children and youth
mixed messages on violence
Mixed Messages on Violence
  • Children and youth are bombarded by examples of violence and aggression that lead to success, status, and problem solving:
    • Politicians
    • Media
    • TV, movies, video games
    • War
    • Role-play games
    • Gangs
mixed messages on violence1
Mixed Messages on Violence
  • Although families are increasingly distressed by:
    • Violent language and explicit violent acts on television, movies, video games
    • Possible ‘desensitization’ of young people (and themselves) to acts that may lead to self-harm or harm to others; diminished empathy for others
    • Increased reports of gang-related activity

There does not seem to be a concerted effort to reduce the stressors.

changing views on violence
Changing Views on Violence
  • Society no longer tolerates domestic violence and is beginning to have the same lack of tolerance for violence in communities
  • Media accounts of societal violence and crime cause a perception of increasing danger. Statistically, crime rates have decreased and levels of violence in society are stable.
  • The school is part of a larger community and its students reflect the parents and community in their beliefs, attitudes and actions.
what do we know about bullying events
What do we know about Bullying Events?
  • Most bullying incidents occur
    • Immediately prior to school or after school
    • In situations without supervision
  • Bullying can be direct or indirect:
    • Direct: face to face confrontation
    • Indirect: shunning, gossiping, malicious damage to reputation or friends
defining bullying
Defining Bullying

Bullying is a form of aggression in which there is an imbalance of power between the bully and the victim. The key elements include:

  • Power imbalance
  • Bully’s intent to harm
  • Victim’s distress
  • Repeated over time

(Peplar & Craig, 1988)

bullying versus hostility
Bullying versus Hostility
  • When children and youth interact negatively, the result is not necessarily bullying. For example,
    • One-time only name-calling, teasing, fighting, and gossiping are name-calling, teasing, fighting, and gossiping (not bullying).
    • When the negativity includes a power imbalance and occurs repeatedly, bullying is considered.
bullying and human development
Bullying and Human Development
  • Young children who bully tend to engage in:
    • Pushing, shoving, calling names, teasing, isolating
  • Adolescents who bully tend to engage in:
    • Harassing, attacking in groups or through peers, using sexual comments/gestures, fighting, threatening/intimidating, using internet messaging to gossip, dating violence, emotional blackmail
  • Adults who bully tend to engage in:
    • Assault, domestic violence, child abuse, workplace harassment, senior abuse, social aggression
extent of bullying the negatives
Extent of Bullying – the Negatives
  • Worldwide phenomenon
  • Approximately 15% of school-aged children and youth are either bullied or initiate bullying (Olweus, 1993)

[9% victims/7% bullies]

extent of bullying the positives
Extent of Bullying – the Positives
  • Worldwide attention to bullying has provided many programs, strategies, and protocols for reducing anti-social behaviours
  • Approximately 85% of school-aged children and youth are neither bullied nor initiate bullying (Olweus, 1993)
the context of bullying
The Context of Bullying

Three-tiered model of school discipline and violence prevention



Skiba, Rausch & Ritter(2004)


nurturing the positives
Nurturing the Positives
  • With such an overwhelming number of students with positive behaviours and attitudes, schools:
    • Create safe and caring environments
    • Offer skill sessions on conflict resolution, friendship, mediation, social responsibility within daily activities and curricular outcomes
    • Create opportunities for peer assistants, volunteerism
    • Provide interventions for students having difficulties in pro-social skills
where bullies flourish
Where Bullies Flourish
  • Places with:
    • Minimal supervision of activities
    • Harsh punishments for rule infractions
    • Little or no acknowledgement of positive behaviour
    • Little or no affection or trust
    • Weak or aggressive communication; problem solving through power, aggression, threat or intimidation
    • High employee turnover and absentee rates
    • Communities with little police or adult presence
where bullies flounder
Where Bullies Flounder
  • Places with:
    • Logical consequences related to actions
    • Consistent, reasonable rules and discipline
    • Discretion; the ability to learn from mistakes
    • Warm and accepting social climate
    • Caring and supportive adults and young people
    • Observable, appropriate, affectionate parental behaviour
    • Open discussion to solve problems
    • Adult supervision
    • Gradual increase of responsibility based on behaviour
positive signs the role of the family
Positive Signs – the Role of the Family
  • Parents are becoming involved in school planning and decision making
  • Families are taking advantage of recreational and educational opportunities in the community
  • Parents are volunteering at schools and becoming involved with their students
  • Parents are attending parent sessions and parent-teacher interviews
positive signs the role of the school
Positive Signs – the Role of the School
  • Schools are addressing school climate in their annual and divisional planning
  • School counsellors, social workers, school psychologists, resource teachers, classroom teachers and administrators are working as planning teams to address individual cases
  • School codes of conduct are being revised in light of safe schools legislation and the need for discretion
  • Crisis intervention plans and threat assessment protocols have been developed in preparation for unforeseen events that include violence
  • Parent education sessions are available
preventing violence


Preventing Violence

To reduce and prevent violence…



victim warning signs
Victim Warning Signs
    • Moody, sullen, withdrawn
    • Depressed
    • Lose interest in school or group activities
    • Lose appetite and have difficulty sleeping
    • Torn clothing, unexplained bruises
    • Refuse to attend school, group activities or specific location
    • Want to carry protection
bully warning signs
Bully Warning Signs
    • Few long term friends
    • Angry, aggressive, avoidant, anti-social
    • Unkind to animals, to self, to others
    • Bruised/scraped knuckles, broken school equipment
    • School and sports equipment used as weapon
    • Secretive online messaging
    • Lack empathy, responsibility, habitually blame
    • Sense of urgency for control/domination
    • Engage in violent role-play games
    • Have been bullied
bystander warning signs
Bystander Warning Signs
  • Witnesses to bullying tend to:
    • Accelerate violent behaviour by creating an audience when the bullying is physical
    • Accelerate the bullying by gossiping when the bullying is emotional
    • Circle the ‘action’ and support the bully
    • Avoid reporting the incident
    • Exaggerate events or downplay events
reducing bullying
Reducing Bullying
  • KEY: Do not ignore bullying. It is not a “phase”.
  • Schools, communities and families work together to create opportunities for change.
  • School counsellors, psychologists and social workers are trained in addressing the needs of victims, bystanders and perpetrators.
  • Teachers are trained in anti-bullying programs and responding to incidents.
  • Safe School Student Committees
  • Safe Community Parent Groups
building resilient school environments
School-based programs:

Positive Behaviour Support

Virtues Project


Second Step

Lion’s Quest

Conflict Resolution

Peer Assistants

Conflict Managers

School-based services:

Teacher intervention

Administrative intervention




School-based Protocols:

Code of conduct

Threat assessment procedures

Emergency preparedness procedures

Counselling pre- and post-suspension

Administrative discretion

Attendance policies

In-school alternatives to suspension

Building Resilient School Environments
nurturing positive power in school settings
Nurturing Positive Power in School Settings
  • Prevention
    • Anger management sessions
    • Conflict resolution in practice
    • Interactive role modelling of pro-social behaviours
  • Discipline
    • Consistency and fairness (heightened security, zero tolerance and punitive discipline are not effective in deterring violence – punishment alone does not change behaviour and can increase misbehaviour – suspensions weaken students’ connections to schools and worsen academic performance)
nurturing positive power in school settings1
Nurturing Positive Power in School Settings
  • Environmental Strategies
    • Respectful behaviour is modelled and expected
    • High levels of caring and academic expectations
    • Teachers know students individually
    • Students actively engaged academically
    • Pro-social approaches to teaching and learning
    • Co-operative education practices
    • Good extracurricular activities
    • Recognition and respect for student’s diverse backgrounds
    • Mentoring, monitoring, follow-up
    • Bullying incidents are addressed swiftly
nurturing positive power in community settings
Nurturing Positive Power in Community Settings
  • Community policing
  • Citizens on patrol
  • Block parents
  • Home/School liaisons
  • Youth Justice Committee
  • Volunteer program
  • Youth centre/drop in centre
  • Continuing education/parenting courses
  • Non-competitive recreation opportunities
  • Supervised recreation facilities
  • Safe shelters
nurturing positive power at home
Nurturing Positive Power at Home
  • Open dialogue; pro-social skill development
  • Caring supervision balanced with sense of privacy
  • Appropriate consequences for misbehaviour
  • Discretion
  • Sense of belongingness
  • Autonomy for age/stage appropriate decision-making
  • Recognition for individual differences and strengths
  • Bullying begins with anti-social behaviours such as discourtesy, disrespect and lack of empathy
  • Bullying is learned and can be unlearned
  • Bullying is negative power-related and can therefore be reduced or eliminated through systemic support for positive power
  • Any form of bullying or violent behaviour is distressing. Fortunately, incidents are few and schools have programs, protocols, and trained personnel in place to address issues and concerns.
  • Together, communities, families and schools can make the world a safer, kinder place.