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Four Conditions to Change Bullying

Just read an article about another approach to eliminate bullying. This one, "Stand4Change," is organizing a specific time and day when thousands of kids/people, over 900,000 and growing as currently stated on the Stand4change.org site, simultaneously stand and speak against bullying, create awareness, and compliment others. We fully believe in putting an end to bullying. As if education and life isn't naturally challenging enough, kids now have to face their day by preparing a defense for bullying, or planning avoidance strategies. Not conducive to improving learning. Bullying is not new, though some of our strategies are--like organizing a nation/world-wide moment to stand and create awareness.

Years ago, elements of Achievement Synchrony were used in cooperation with character programs because the nation realized the connection between learning and character. As our research and experience grew, we realized that character development definitely played a roll in improving achievement, but it needed to be more directly and permanently linked to achievement. Our experience directed us toward four conditions. These conditions were originally listed as ways to change behavior, but we're using them in regards to changing bullying because they apply very directly. Some experience we had with past character programs is their limited reach of influence. Some of these programs were limited to the classroom or school. But what happens when posters or teachers are not around, like on the playground, in the halls, and away from school? These four conditions are developmental in nature so they work to change the core, or nature of bad behavior, or bullying--this allows for limitless reach of influence and is more permanent.

 

Four Conditions to Eliminate Bullying

  1. Students have a clear picture of their acts, feelings, and thoughts, and accept responsibility for them.
  2. Students see their actions as having consequences for themselves and other people.
  3. Students have a better alternative available to them--they learn better alternatives.
  4. They develop a plan for change with a personal coach (parent or teacher) who helps and stays with them.

An additional element Achievement Synchrony emphasizes, but not listed in the four above, is that it teaches all students how to identify and talk about problem behavior that affects/hurts others and then teaches ways to improve. This classroom culture of students understanding how actions affect others is what sets the stage for true behavior change. Those that had no ability to understand how their actions hurt/help others begin to understand, those that are mean, are watched by all students, (not only parents and teachers), those who make mistakes learn better alternatives. With this type of environment, all students can feel more cared for, understood, supported, and they receive the direction they need.

Here are a few of the most common reasons bullying or other character development programs are not as effective as they could be:

  1. Bullies and students who consistently display negative/harmful behavior who lack personal responsibility are not held accountable in effective ways that change their behavior to more positive
  2. Traditional programs have limited reach. They are typically limited to the classroom, school grounds, or where an authority figure is present and are not as effective away from these controlled conditions
  3. Traditional program concepts are often not understood and implemented by every student. They do not know how to recognize, report, discuss, and remediate as a group.
  4. Lack of consistency and sustained effort.

So take a minute and apply the above four conditions to bullying: What if a bully recognized how their actions affected others and learned responsibility for them and recognized the consequences of these actions? What would a bully be like if they possessed, or were taught if needed, positive alternatives to their behavior and then a plan to improve these alternatives was put into place, which included regular accountability and follow up? Imagine if the entire class or school understood these same conditions and were able to recognize harmful behavior, like bullying, and cooperate to implement plans to improve.

Our experience with these techniques is that bad behavior is reduced by half in about one month. Best of all are children's improved feelings about school when they feel less fear, threat, and anxiety about school and the classroom (emotions proven to inhibit learning), and instead feel secure, more unity and support, confident, and positive about school (emotions proven to enhance learning).

Comments

06/17/2012 4:31pm
that morning when he got dreessd he saw his 17yr old's knife in the tackle box and decided to slip it in his shoe. He said he had no intention on using it, but having it in his shoe made him feel safe. Like there was no way this girl could hurt him. But when he showed his friend, it got around the breakfast table and he ran outside and threw it down the drain.Since his arrest I have found out the school knew this girl called others names. Infact my son is just one of many of her victims. Yet she's still allowed to sit in class and continue. When a teacher hears her they tell her to be quiet or stand in the hall til the end of class. I'm being told parents are demanding my son not return to school ever.I get my son went to extremes and does deserve a punishment for the knife being brought to school. What I don't understand is why the district insists on letting her get away with it. Our district is supposed to have a zero tollerance, but yet they let her keep doing it to others. I've tried having conversations with princepal and district office voicing my concerns on what will happen to her next victim. They all act like I'm over reacting. I can't seem to get them to see that if they keep allowing her in class to do this to others then eventually we'll have a suicide in our small town or even a mass tragedy.I have another meeting Friday, but now I'm wondering if this doesn't get resolved if I should get the press involved or even a lawyer to protect my son from the community who has only heard half the story.

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