Academic journal article Education

We're Not Gonna Take It: A Student Driven Anti-Bullying Approach

Academic journal article Education

We're Not Gonna Take It: A Student Driven Anti-Bullying Approach

Article excerpt

Introduction

Bullying is a pervasive and serious problem in today's schools. Recently, an attempt was made by one of the authors to work with a middle school to address bullying in a somewhat unique way. Teachers and administrators at the school were contemplating a variety of different prevention programs and were having difficulty meeting the developmental needs of their culturally diverse population. The author shared with them the importance of the student's perspective and involvement in dealing with such a complex student-experienced problem. The school was informed that in this approach, students would be asked how they saw bullying and what they would do to address it. The students would then be given the time and opportunity to carry out their ideas. The school felt that this type of an approach would be more consistent with the needs of their students. After discussing logistical details, the program was begun.

A diverse group of interested students were gathered and formed a "bullying committee." The author then facilitated a student discussion on bullying and harassment. Students quickly described bullying and harassment as rampant and very harmful in their school. With ease, they identified where and when bullying occurred and described different types of bullying. When informed that their help was desired and essential in addressing bullying in their school, they became energized. They broke into subgroups and devised presentations and ideas to generate awareness and action among the student body. The students' presentations were based upon what they would need to learn about bullying and harassment and how they would best learn the information. Ideas ranged from skits, to video tapes depicting what bullying is and how to deal with it, to games to facilitate awareness. Each group visited two classrooms per day for three weeks. Following many weeks of successful classroom visits, these newly empowered students created a poster rifled, "We're not gonna take it any more". The banner was hung in the cafeteria as a reminder of the school commitment to eliminate bullying and harassment.

The student enthusiasm and initial success of this effort inspired the authors to research similar attempts to address bullying. Specifically, we wanted to investigate the degree to which students are involved in anti-bullying programs and the effectiveness such programs. This article: (a) outlines the scope and consequences of bullying, (b) examines what the research indicates as to the effectiveness of various anti-bullying efforts, (c) provides rationale and strategies for implementing a student-driven anti-bullying program, and (d) discusses how further research might be done to empirically assess such programs.

The Scope and Consequences of Bullying

Bullying is broad in scope. The U.S. Department of Education (1998) found approximately 25% of 4th-6th grade students reporting being bullied in the prior three months. They also reported rural schools having roughly 77% of 7th-12th grade students reported having been the victim of school bullying (U.S. Department of Education, 1998). The results of a survey by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Nansel et al., 2001) identified over 3 million victims and over 3.5 million bullies between grades 6-10 nationwide. Additional research indicates that bullying is a global problem, citing studies in numerous other countries that find bullying a problematic and widespread phenomenon (Hazier, 2000; Hazier & Carney, 2002). Unfortunately, some research has found instances of bullying to be on the rise (Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2003).

While it is important to recognize the scope of bullying, the consequences of this behavior are the true cause for alarm. According to Rigby (2003), victims of bullying were more likely to report somatic complaints such as headaches and stomach aches. A survey of Australian secondary school students found a significant association between those who are victimized and higher likelihood of poorer health, including things like feeling ill and losing sleep (Slee, 1994). …

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