Academic journal article The Professional Counselor

Effect of Participation in Student Success Skills on Prosocial and Bullying Behavior

Academic journal article The Professional Counselor

Effect of Participation in Student Success Skills on Prosocial and Bullying Behavior

Article excerpt

While some forms of youth victimization have steadily declined over the years, bullying occurrences have remained relatively stable (DeVoe et al., 2004; Wang, Iannotti, & Nansel, 2009). Reports have indicated that 30-40% of students admit to regular involvement in bullying behaviors (Bradshaw, O'Brennan, & Sawyer, 2008; Nansel et al., 2001; Spriggs, Iannotti, Nansel, & Haynie, 2007). Additionally, statistics reveal that bullying is much more common among early adolescents than elementary age children (Bradshaw et al., 2008; Olweus, 1993; Ortega & Lera, 2000). In fact, notable increases in the rates of peer aggression occur during the transition years, in both grade 6 (beginning of middle school) and grade 9 (beginning of high school; Olweus, 1993; Ortega & Lera, 2000); therefore, targeting students prior to these peaks would be considered more proactive.

Recent approaches to combat the bullying problem have highlighted the importance of increasing students' social competencies and coping and social interaction skills (Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011). Greenberg et al. (2003) offered that alternative approaches to managing problem behavior are most beneficial when they simultaneously foster students' personal and social skills while improving the quality of the school environment. The philosophy behind incorporating these types of programs in schools suggests that in order for students to fully reach their potential, educators must address the whole child (Payton et al., 2008; Saleebey, 2008). Ultimately, building key skills in all children contributes to creating a positive, safe and caring learning environment, one that discourages aggression and violence.

The Consequences of Bullying Behaviors

Bullying can negatively impact victims and bullies, as well as bystanders. Emotionally, victims of bullying report higher levels of fear and anxiety (Gini & Pozzoli, 2009; Reijntjes, Kamphuis, Prinzie, & Telch, 2010), are more socially withdrawn (Roth, Coles, & Heimberg, 2002), and are more likely to experience depression (Ttofi, Farrington, Lösel, & Loeber, 2011) than their peers. In terms of social consequences, victims suffer from increased levels of peer rejection (Gini & Pozzoli, 2009; Reijntjes et al., 2010). Victimization also has been linked to academic consequences, including increased tardiness, absentee and dropout rates (Beale & Scott, 2001; Nansel et al., 2001); poorer grades; and more academic struggles than their peer counterparts (Boulton, Trueman, & Murray, 2008). Similarly, bullies and bystanders experience distinct consequences that contribute to the struggles they experience in school. For example, bullies also may earn poorer grades and have higher absentee and dropout rates than non-aggressive peers (Bernstein & Watson, 1997), and bystanders have reported increased levels of fear about school safety (Olweus, 1993).

The literature further indicates that the actions of those involved in bullying situations, including bystanders, can either enhance or damage a school's climate (Catalano, Haggerty, Oesterle, Fleming, & Hawkins, 2004; Swearer, Espelage, Vaillancourt, & Hymel, 2010). Carney (2008) concluded that experiencing bullying firsthand, as well as witnessing bullying incidents, can be traumatic for students. It is evident that schools should be concerned about proactively addressing bullying behaviors. If not, significant consequences related to student behavior and academic achievement can abound.

Empirical Support for Student Success Skills

The Student Success Skills (SSS) classroom program (Brigman & Webb, 2010) is based on extensive research reviews (Daly, Duhon, & Witt, 2002; Greenberg et al., 2003; Hattie, Biggs, & Purdie, 1996; Masten & Coatsworth, 1998; Payton et al., 2008; Wang, Haertel, & Walberg, 1994; Zins, Weissberg, Wang, & Walberg, 2004) that identified three key categories of skills needed in order to grow, perform and achieve: (a) cognitive and meta-cognitive skills such as goal setting, progress monitoring and memory skills; (b) social skills such as interpersonal, social problem solving, listening and teamwork skills; and (c) self-management skills such as managing attention, motivation and anger. …

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