Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Violence Prevention Skills Applied to Bullying: Shift in Focus from Catastrophizing Bullying Is Seen as a Strategy Sure to Foster Violence Prevention

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Violence Prevention Skills Applied to Bullying: Shift in Focus from Catastrophizing Bullying Is Seen as a Strategy Sure to Foster Violence Prevention

Article excerpt

Half of the respondents in a recent survey of more than 43,000 public and private high school students said they had bullied someone in the last year, and 47% said they had been the victim of bullying.

Moreover, 33% of the students surveyed said that violence is a big problem at their school, and 24% said they don't feel very safe at school, according to the Joseph-son Institute Center for Youth Ethics, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that has conducted biannual studies of the ethics of American youth since 1992, and which administers a national values-based program for students titled "CHARACTER COUNTS!"

The problem of bullying, which has garnered a great deal of media attention in the wake of several high-profile bullying-related incidents, is one that requires the attention of parents and educators. In fact, on the day the Josephson Institute survey results were released, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance "to support educators in combating bullying in schools by clarifying when student bullying may violate federal education antidiscrimination laws,' according to a press release from the department, and by explaining educators' legal obligations in regard to protecting students from harassment.

For its part, the Josephson Institute survey showed that in the prior year, 52% of students had hit a person out of anger, 10% had taken a weapon to school, and 16% admitted to having been under the influence of drugs or alcohol while at school.

The combination of bullying along with these factors significantly increases the likelihood of retaliatory violence, and it's not only the prevalence of bullying behavior and victimization that's troublesome, according to Michael Josephson, founder and president of the Institute.

"The difference between the impact of bullying today versus 20 years ago is the difference between getting into a fist fight and using a gun," he said.

Meanwhile, the problem is one that physicians who care for children also should be addressing routinely, said Dr. Carl C. Bell, clinical professor of psychiatry and public health, and acting director of the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has an anticipatory guidance regarding violence prevention, and this also should apply to bullying, which is a form of violence, said Dr. …

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