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Building  Safe, Healthy and Caring Learning Environments that Prevent Bullying 7th Annual Conference Of The International Bullying Prevention Association. David Osher AMERICAN INSTITUTES For RESEARCH Challenges. Bullying Is often a Piece of a larger Iceberg

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Building  Safe, Healthy and Caring Learning Environments that Prevent Bullying 7th Annual Conference Of The International Bullying Prevention Association

David Osher


  • Bullying Is often a Piece of a larger Iceberg
  • Bullying is Not the Only Problem that Schools Face
  • Schools Have Limited Resources and Time
  • School Staff often Lack the Capacity to Prevent or Address Bullying
  • Prevention and Social Support are often Marginalized
  • We Have Good Models to Build Upon
  • There are Common Risk and Protective Factors for Bullying and other problems
  • We can address Multiple Problems through a Comprehensive Approach
  • The are Academic and Social Returns on Comprehensive Investments
  • We Know How to Build Capacity
bottom line
Bottom Line
  • A comprehensive whole-school approach can enhance the impact of bullying prevention, while realizing other outcomes that matter
bottom line the approach should
Bottom Line : The Approach Should
  • Create Strong Conditions for Learning and Development
  • Build Student and Staff Social and Emotional Competencies
  • Build a School Capacity
  • Be Intentional, Monitored, and Continuously Improved
  • Align All School Activities
  • Be end-user driven
  • Include Universal, Selective, and Intensive Interventions
You Need it AllThe Four Elements of a Comprehensive Plan forSafe, Supportive and Successful Schools

Bullying Remains Pervasive in the U.S.

Data Source: Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2009. Table 11.2


There are School Effects: What are the odds that the top 18% of students with behavioral problems in 1st grade will be in the top 18% in 7th Grade?

Kellam et al., 1998

paths universal intervention end of first grade 1 year of intervention
PATHS Universal InterventionEnd of First Grade (1 Year of Intervention)

Children who receive PATHS rate their classmates as significantly less aggressive than do children in randomized comparison classes

Greenberg, et al., 1999

what else can be done in first grade to change these trajectories
What Else Can Be Done In First Grade to Change These Trajectories
  • Classroom Planning
    • COMP
  • Teacher-Student Relationship in First Grade
    • CLASS
  • Classroom Management and Social Learning
    • The Good Behavior Game
  • Classroom Communities
    • Responsive Classroom
  • Social Emotional Learning as Part of Violence Prevention
    • PATHS
good behavior game as example
Good Behavior Game as Example
  • Goals:
    • Socialize children into the role of student, and reduce aggressive, disruptive behavior
    • Provide teachers a method of classroom behavior management
schools as risk factors
Schools as Risk Factors
  • Alienation
  • Academic Frustration
  • Learning anti-social attitudes and habits
  • Negative Relationships with Adults and Peers
  • Teasing, Bullying, Gangs
  • Segregation with and/or Socialization by Antisocial Peers
  • School-driven Mobility
  • Ineffective or Non-Existent Services &
  • Harsh Discipline, Suspension, Expulsion, Push Out/Drop Out.
schools as protective factors and as context that build resilience
Schools as Protective Factors and as Context that Build Resilience
  • Connection
  • Academic Success
  • Learning Social and Emotional Competencies
  • Positive Relationships with Adults and Peers
  • Caring Interactions
  • Inclusive Environments and/or Reinforcement of Pro-social attitudes and habits
  • Stability
  • Effective Services
  • Positive approaches to disciplinary infractions &
an example of what can be done north lawndale college preparatory school chicago
An Example of What Can Be Done: North Lawndale College Preparatory School, Chicago
  • “This is not about graduating from high school; it is about graduating from college”
  • Money for counselors, not metal detectors and security staff
  • One counselor stays with same students grades 9-13; another one follows up 14-16
an example of what can be done north lawndale college preparatory school chicago1
An Example of What Can Be Done: North Lawndale College Preparatory School, Chicago
  • Strong academic press; strong social support
  • Supports academic risk taking: “teachers are like another set of parents”
  • Development of moral community
  • Fellow students “like brothers, sisters, cousins”
resources are not the only solution an example from bangladesh brac pre primary and primary schools
Resources Are Not the Only Solution: An Example From Bangladesh: BRAC Pre-Primary and Primary Schools
conditions for learning
Conditions for Learning

Safe & Respectful Climate

Student Support

Social & Emotional Learning

Academic Challenge

social emotional conditions for learning
Social Emotional Conditions for Learning

Students are supported

Meaningful connection to adults

Strong bonds to school

Positive peer relationships

Effective and available support

Students are socially capable

Emotionally intelligent and culturally competent

Responsible and persistent

Cooperative team players

Contribute to school and community

Students are safe

Physically safe

Emotionally and socially safe

Treated fairly and equitably

Avoid risky behaviors

School is safe and orderly

Students are challenged

High expectations

Strong personal motivation

School is connected to life goals

Rigorous academic opportunities

safe and respectful climate
Safe and Respectful Climate
  • Physical Safety
  • Little Or No Fighting, Bullying, Crime, Gang Presence, Or Substance Abuse
safe and respectful climate1
Safe and Respectful Climate
  • Emotional Safety
  • Climate Of Mutual Respect And Trust
  • Students Comfortable Taking Personal And Academic Risks
safety and state wide tests
Safety and State Wide Tests
  • The school safety scale showed the highest correlations with the subscales from the Prairie State Achievement Exam
    • All the correlations were statistically significant.
student support
Student Support
  • Adults Listen To Students, Care About Them And Treat Them Fairly
  • Adults Provide A Welcoming Environment For Students
student support1
Student Support
  • Students Support Each Other
  • Teachers Establish A Connection With Students
  • Teachers Provide Extra Help When Students Are Having Trouble Understanding Material
  • Teachers Engage in Students In Learning
students for feel connected are
Students for Feel Connected are:
  • Less Likely To Use Alcohol Or Substances
  • Experience Less Emotional Distress
  • Attempt Suicide Less
  • Engage In Less Deviant And Violent Behavior
  • School Connectedness The Only School-related Variable That Was Protective For Every Single Outcome

National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (ADD Health)

examples of power of support and connection
Examples of Power of Support and Connection
  • Feeling secure with teachers and being engaged related to positive coping and using teachers to address school problems (Ryan et al. 1994)
  • Lack of teacher nurturance was the most consistent negative predictor of academic performance and social behavior (Wentzel, 2002)
  • Teachers who had high-quality relationships with their students had 31% fewer discipline problems, rule violations, and related problems over a year’s time than did teachers who lacked high-quality relationships with their students (Waters, Marzano, & McNulty, 2003)
academic challenge
Academic Challenge
  • School Courses And Lessons Are Challenging To Students
  • School Staff Provide Academic Support To All Students
academic challenge1
Academic Challenge
  • Students Are Expected To Work Hard To Learn
  • Students Are Interested In What They Are Learning
  • Students Are Not Bored By Their Classes
peer social and emotional competency
Peer Social and Emotional Competency
  • Work Well With Others
  • Cooperate As Team Players
  • Solve Problems With Persistence And Creativity
  • Set And Work Toward Goals
  • Make Responsible Decisions In Academic And Social Settings
  • Recognize And Manage Emotions
social and emotional competency
Social and Emotional Competency
  • Solve problems with persistence and creativity
  • Set and work toward goals
  • Make responsible decisions in academic and social settings
  • Recognize and manage emotions
social and emotional competency1
Social and Emotional Competency
  • Standard: Excellent
    • Students report that most students in the school have good social skills, want to do well in school, and work well in teams. These students resolve conflicts peacefully, solve problems creatively, and think cheating is wrong. They do their best, even when their school work is difficult.
supporting conditions for learning
Supporting Conditions for Learning
  • Connection
  • Attachment
  • Trust
  • Care
  • Respect

Social Emotional

Learning & Support

Positive Behavioral Approaches & Supports

  • Learning Supports
  • Effective Pedagogy
  • Engagement
  • Motivation
work at three levels
Work at Three Levels

Intervene Early & Provide Focused Youth Development Activities

Implement strategies and provide supports that address risk factors and build protective factors for students at risk for severe academic or behavioral difficulties.

Provide Individualized Intensive Supports

Provide coordinated, intensive, sustained, culturally appropriate, child and family focused services and supports.

Build a Schoolwide Foundation

Universal prevention and youth development approaches, caring school climate, positive and proactive approach to discipline, personalized instruction, cultural competence, and strong family involvement.

the logic of universal intervention


The Logic of Universal Intervention
  • Cannot Identify All Who Are At Risk
  • Children Affect Each Other
  • No Stigma
  • No Self-fulfilling Prophecies
  • No Homogenous Grouping
  • Per Child Cost Is Less
  • Provides A Foundation

Universal Interventions

core competencies
Core Competencies






Responsible decision-making

Social awareness



students who are self aware
Students Who are Self-aware
  • Accurately assess their feelings, interests, values, and strengths; and
  • Maintain a well-grounded sense of self-confidence.
students who self manage
Students Who Self-manage
  • Regulate their emotions to handle stress, control impulses, and persevere in overcoming obstacles;
  • Set and monitor progress toward personal and academic goals; and
  • Express emotions appropriately.
students who are socially aware
Students Who are Socially Aware
  • Take the perspective of other and empathize with others;
  • Recognize and appreciate individual and group similarities and differences; and
  • Recognize and use family, school, and community resources.
students who have good relationships
Students Who Have Good Relationships
  • Establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships based on cooperation;
  • Resist inappropriate social pressure;
  • Prevent, manage, and resolve interpersonal conflict;
  • Seek help when needed.
students who make responsible decisions
Students Who Make Responsible Decisions
  • Make decisions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, appropriate social norms, respect for others, and likely consequences of various actions;
  • Apply decision-making skills to academic and social situations; and
  • Contribute to the well-being of one’s school and community
seattle social development project
Seattle Social Development Project
  • Lowered teacher-rated aggressive behavior in boys and self destructive behavior in girls (Hawkins, Von Cleve, & Catalano, 1991)
  • Improved bonding to family and school
  • Students less likely to use alcohol and engage in delinquent behavior (Hawkins at al., 1992)
  • Reduced involvement in sexual activity, violent delinquency, drunkenness, and drinking and driving (O’Donnell, Hawkins, Catalano, Abbot, & Day, 1995)
  • Improved Long Term Academic Results
seattle social development project1
Seattle Social Development Project

Benefit-Cost Ratio: $4.25

example evidence of success with sel
Example: Evidence of Success with SEL
  • 23% increase in social / emotional skills
  • 9% improvement in attitudes about self,others, and school
  • 9% improvement in prosocial behavior
  • 9% reduction in problem behaviors
  • 10% reduction in emotional distress
  • 11% increase in standardized achievement test scores (math and reading)

Source: Durlak, J.A., Weissberg, R.P., Taylor, R.D., & Dymnicki, A.B. (In Press)Child Development The effects of school-based social and emotional learning: A meta-analytic review.

why are conditions for learning important
Why Are Conditions For Learning Important
  • Teaching in the Zone (of Proximal Development )
  • Personalizing Instruction
  • Differentiating Instruction
  • Scaffolding learning and support
the zone of proximal development for learning development
Nakkula, M. J., & Toshalis, E. (2006). Understanding youth: Adolescent development for educators. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press. The Zone of Proximal Development for Learning & Development






why are conditions for learning important the neurochemistry and neurobiology of learning
Why Are Conditions For Learning Important - The Neurochemistry and Neurobiology of Learning
  • Attending
  • Concentrating
  • Using working memory
  • Memorizing
  • Handling Emotions
impact of violence bullying
Impact of Violence & Bullying
  • Affect the extent to which people are:
    • angry,
    • anxious,
    • depressed,
    • fearful,
    • frustrated,
    • upset,
    • traumatized,
    • worried,
    • sad, and otherwise distressed (e.g., Nansel et al., 2001; Flannery, 2006)
connecting the dots
Connecting the Dots

Strategic &


Based Learning





To Learn



Behavioral, &





Engagement, &


to School




and Success

in School

and Life

  • Teach SEL
  • Competencies
  • Self-awareness
  • Social awareness
  • Self-management
  • Relationship skills
  • Responsible
  • decision making

Safe, Caring,






Less Risky

Behavior, More

Assets, &