Best Practices in Bullying Prevention: One Size Does Not Fit All Presented by Kathleen Conn, Ph.D., J.D., LL.M. Assistant Professor, Neumann University Adjunct Professor, Widener School of Law
The Bottom Line • Bullying in schools is worldwide phenomenon • Starts early and continues throughout the grades • Causes externalizing and internalizing problems, weapon carrying, suicidal ideation and even accomplished suicides
Some Kids Can Brush It Off But some can’t
What Can We Do About It? • Schools are adopting bullying prevention programs • States are passing anti-bullying statutes • Law Schools are holding bullying symposia • BUT IT’S NOT WORKING!
Olweus as the “Gold Standard”? • The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program reduced bullying by up to 50% in schools in Norway and Sweden But both the schools and the cultures are different in the U.S.
Results of OBBP in U.S. Mixed • Some schools using the Olweus program report reductions in bullying and peer victimization, increases in bystander interventions • But many do not see any positive results • And OBBP is expensive
Mixed Results with All Interventions? • Ttofi and Farrington (2011) located 622 reports of anti-bullying programs worldwide from 1983-2009 • They examined 89 studies reporting results of 53 different programs • They divided programs according to sizes of schools in which they were implemented, and research designs
It’s Not Working… • NO EFFECTS in “under-200 students” category, only moderate effects in “over-200s” schools • Of the research design with the best results, the age-cohort study design,only one study was in the United States • Overall, 17-23% reduction in bullying • Most positive effects were seen in Scandinavian countries
Don’t Think Laws Will Help • State anti-bullying laws have been passed in 49 states • Nieman, Robers & Robers (2012) analyzed results of the effectiveness of state statutes on reducing bullying • Only the most severe statute had a consistent positive effect • State laws do not provide parents’ access to the courts
Some Laws May Hurt . . . Does No Child Left Behind incentivize non-reporting of violence in schools? Who wants the label of “Persistently Dangerous School”? 2003-2004, only 52 schools in the entire nation were classified as persistently dangerous; none in Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, San Diego, or Washington, D.C.
Persistently Dangerous • PDE reports that in 2012-2013, only 6 schools in the state were persistently dangerous, all in the Philadelphia School District (PSD) • Numbers decreasing • In 2010-2011, 19 schools, all in PSD • In 2011-2012, only 12, all in PSD • Frankford, Lincoln, Strawberry Mansion High Schools on the list last several years
Some Laws May Hurt . . . Pennsylvania’s Anti-Bullying Law requires schools to adopt anti-bullying policies Requires schools to review policies every 3 years and report development and implementation of policies School policies must mandate reporting of bullying to the school, but law does not describe a specific investigation process, nor does it require records kept
What’s Should Schools Do? • Administrators need to approach the problem with a cautious eye • Do due diligence • Get the research studies • Read what worked in schools your size, your location, with your population . . . • And with your problem
What’s the Best Course? • Find out what your problem is • US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes a guide to measuring instruments • Actual surveys are in the guide • http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/bullyCompendiumbk-a.pdf.
What’s the Best Course? • Treat the bullying problem as a group phenomenon: the interaction between bullies, victims, bully-victims, and bystanders • Focus on changing the overall classroom interactions
What’s the Best Course? • Acknowledge the importance of family environments • Ambivalent and less cohesive family relationships, harsh discipline practices, and inconsistent and authoritarian parenting is in the background of many bullies and bully victims
What’s the Best Course? • Be prepared to wait for results • Program duration and intensity are important variables • Fidelity of implementation must be monitored • Everyone has to be on the same page, including students
Every School Is Different • One size does not fit all • Some programs work well in some schools • School size, student demographics, community mores, community participation need to be considered • Administrator and staff “personalities” must influence program choice
Thank you for your attention. Kathleen Conn, Ph.D., J.D., LL.M.email@example.com