Tag Archives: teacher

Anti-Bullying Programs In Schools Might Not Actually Work

School bullies were the bane of my early existence.

Until I learned a pretty powerful secret* about bullying, I pretty much just had to put up with it. There wasn’t much that teachers could or would do. Having Mom or Dad come in and say something to the school would just have been mortifying.

Bullying long went undiscussed at most schools. It was, the thinking went, just something that happened to kids in schools. It built character. Toughened up the little wimps.

Until it didn’t. Until people acknowledged that bullied kids can strike back, at themselves or at the kids and adults around them. Since then, anti-bullying programs have been a staple in most schools in America. The good news is that incidences of bullying have actually been decreasing.

The bad news is that all these shiny and wonderful anti-bullying programs might not be the cause of that decline.

A new study recently published in the Journal of Criminology suggests that the anti-bullying programs that have become popular in many schools may not be as useful as previously thought. The authors examined 7000 kids at 195 different schools to try to determine child and school influences on bullying. Surprisingly, the authors found that children who attended schools with anti-bullying programs were more likely to experience bullying than children who attended schools without such programs. 

As you might expect, the data is correlational. That is, kids who participate in anti-bullying programs might be more likely than non-program students to report what they consider to be bullying. Schools with a bigger bully problem might be more inclined to implement an anti-bullying program. That sort of thing.

However, that said, this study does raise some pretty serious concerns about the efficacy of such programs.

Granted, not all programs are alike and some may be better than others. Programs that appear to inflate bullying statistics, use fear messages to sell their product and make exaggerated claims of successfulness should particularly raise alarm bells for schools.  Programs that attempt to understand the motives behind bullying, focus on reinforcing positive behavior among students while also training staff to address all aggression, not just bullying, may have the best promise for success.

And it’s that last that really gives me some hope for the whole idea of anti-bullying programs. One with which I had some close association was the program run at Awesome Elementary School (aka Huntingtowne Farms Elementary) here in Charlotte. These kids were exposed every single day to some sort of message that bullying was wrong. As a consequence, I several times saw students step into an altercation and point out that one of the kids was being a bully.

The accused bully often stopped what he or she had been doing and walked off. That’s not to say that they didn’t just start up again later, but it was a pretty clear win for the idea that bullying isn’t a normal part of school. If little dudes and dudettes don’t feel safe at school, they’re not going to be able to learn. And then what’s the point?

Just knowing that bulling is something up with which the school will not put can make for a pretty powerful inhibition against this sort of behavior. As parents, we can take a hand in working with this issue. Not just telling our children that bullying is wrong, but pointing out bullying behavior and offering alternatives.

We’ve been through bullying. Do we really want our kids doing it also when we can work to prevent it?



*That secret? Don’t sweat the small stuff and, when it’s not small stuff, stand up and beat the crap out of whatever type of scumbag is pushing you around. If you lose the fight, then pick it all over again until it’s no longer worth the hassle. Admittedly, not the secret for everyone.

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On Being Savagely Successful

Only through failure can we learn to succeed.

While I believe that’s one of the most important life lessons we can learn, it’s all to often overlooked when we, as parents, attempt to shelter our little dudes and dudettes from this sort of thing, to ensure a failure-free lifetime for our spawn.

The problem with that plan is that it ensures the growth of a no-longer-child who cannot cope with setbacks, who doesn’t know how to learn from mistakes, use that knowledge to correct his or her errors and move on to the next aspect of his or her life. Those of us of the adult persuasion understand that learning from our mistakes so we don’t make them again is essential in just about every aspect of our daily existence.

Folks shouldn’t look at failure as a bad outcome, as long as they contain the persistence to continue working toward the goal they, at first, didn’t attain. Heck, listen to huckster and part-time inventor Thomas Alva Edison: I didn’t fail ten thousand times. I successfully eliminated, ten thousand times, materials and combinations which wouldn’t work.

Adam Savage is a Maker, sort-of scientist and best known as co-host of Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters series. Yesterday, I ran a list of his 10 rules for success. One of those rules said — simply — fail.

If you’ve ever watched Mythbusters, you know one of his sayings is that “Failure is always an option.” He’s not a defeatist, rather he understands that by examining why something failed and how it failed, he can apply those lessons to make the endeavor succeed.

Another of his rules that I particularly like would have to be: If you want something, ASK. I’ve a feeling this should be self-explanatory, but, for too many dudes and dudettes, this completely escapes them.

Too many people seem to believe that their only choices are the ones actually offered to them. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

One of the most important lessons that Zippy the College Boy learned in high school and that, hopefully, Hyper Lad will learn now that he’s attending the same high school, is to self advocate. Which means, in a nutshell, ask for what you want.

If you don’t understand something in class, ask the teacher for clarification. If you still don’t get it, don’t worry. Just keep asking and trying until you do.

If you see someone doing something cool? Ask them how they did it, how they learned it? Where can you learn it?

Looking at Savage’s list, I think the most important thing you can take away from it is that you should approach life as a participatory sport, rather than something you should watch happen.

Get involved! Get motivated!

Work, as Savage said, your ass off to achieve your goals. If you don’t have what you need to accomplish those goals, don’t collapse into a weeping pile of angst. Ask for help. Get what you need, practice the new skills and get good. Then go out and accomplish your goals.

Success takes more than just hard work and diligence, but you can’t succeed without either of them.

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I Know I Put That Apple Around Here Someplace

It’s early, but it’s happening. Although the young dudes and dudettes in the public schools won’t be starting their first-of-the-year trudge to the bus stop until Monday, Hyper Lad is at his first full day of school today.

He’s starting at The Falcon School, a k-12 private school for kids with learning disabilities. It’s the same school from which his older brother, Zippy the College Boy, graduated high school.

Our oldest little dude, Sarcasmo, who’s not anyone’s definition of little any more, graduated from the public high school. It was, and I say this with a touch of understatement, huge. Many buildings on a very large campus. Trudging back and forth between classes. Despite his size, it was easy for Sarcasmo to get lost at his high school.

Because he was quiet during school, he also began to slip between the cracks socially as well. That combination didn’t make for a very good high-school experience for the guy.

At Falcon, Zippy the College Boy stood out in his very small, maybe at-most, 10-student classes. The teachers knew him. They knew his issues and they knew how best to motivate him. No matter where he went in that school, he stood out because everyone stood out.

Because the issues that Sarcasmo was dealing with weren’t more noticeable, he didn’t get many accommodations at his high school, even though he needed them. At Falcon, the entire school is an accommodation.

The teachers at Falcon take a success-first look at every single student. That is, they find where that student can succeed and then work from there, moving forward, finding ways that each student can learn, no matter what obstacle stands in his or her way. It is a fantastic scenario and makes for a great learning experience.

Hyper Lad took a good, long look at the experience both his brothers had, and ended up believing that he’d rather have Zippy the College Boy’s experience. Good choice.

He’s actually pretty ecstatic about starting at Falcon. See, even though today is his first full day of school, he actually had school yesterday, almost a full week ahead of his former classmates, but he didn’t care. Because yesterday was a half day and he’s never had one of those before.

Hyper Lad was able to attend school and then leave just after noon. A new experience and one he’s looking forward to having more often.

Which means it’s quiet around the house again. And the youngest has just embarked on yet another new experience, turning the page on yet another chapter of his life.

In other words, he’s growing up.

Maybe I should think about doing the same.

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