Bully-victim behavior is a serious public health problem (U.S. Center for Disease Control). Historically, K-12 bully prevention efforts have focused exclusively on the bully and/or the victim, despite over a decade of research showing how ineffective zero tolerance policies and practices are.
The growing body of research all underscores the same thing: bully-victim behavior is toxic; it undermines K-12 student’s capacity to develop and learn in healthy ways. (In fact, when students bully and/or are victimized over time it dramatically increases the likelihood that they will develop significant psychosocial problems.)
Effective bully prevention efforts are ones that actually protect children and adults from harm as well as promoting school wide learning that supports social responsibility: ally behavior. Schools need to adapt a comprehensive bully prevention/pro-allyship model that supports the following overlapping instructional and school wide improvement goals:
- Awareness and ongoing attention to the overt and subtle manifestations of harassment, meanness and bully-victim-spectator behavior through school-wide as well as classroom (and morning meeting or Advisory based) meetings.
- Promote the skills, knowledge and dispositions that support people becoming effective allies and in doing so, transforming the culture of the school from a culture of spectators (active or passive) to allies: socially responsible students and adults who (directly or indirectly) say “no” to bully-victim behavior.
- Develop even more effective parent-educator-mental health partnerships that support adults recognizing students who chronically ‘fall into’ the role of bully and/or victim and insuring that the underlying causes of this behavior is helpfully addressed.
Download our resource, Comprehensive Bully Prevention and Pro-Allyship Efforts to learn more about what you can do to systemically prevent and stop bullying in your school.