The first step in implementing a bully free program in elementary schools is to first understand the definition of the word “bully”. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary the word bully can be defined as “aggressive behavior that is intentional. It can be physical (such as pushing or hitting) or verbal (such as hurting someone with insults or malicious gossip). In younger children, bullying can also frequently include exclusion (a child telling another she doesn’t want to play with her and urging others to join her in excluding the victim of the bullying behavior, for instance).
”. Bullying in schools today is at an all time high. Although many programs have been put in place in order to put a stop to the problem, it still seems to exist. Bullying can create life long problems for it’s victims and it starts at a young age in schools. Not only can students be physically bullied (punched, kicked, pushed…) students can also be emotionally a psychologically bullied. This promotes a low self-esteem in the victims and had a direct effect on the students learning abilities. “A poll of 1,000 kids nationwide revealed that One-third of all teens (ages 12-17) and one-sixth of children (ages 6-11) have had mean, threatening or embarrassing things said about them. Of that number, 16 percent of the teens and preteens who were victims told no one about it.” (Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2006). Perhaps on of the best examples of a bully prevention program that has been highly successful would be that of Dr. Dan Olweus, of Clemson University. For more then 30 years now, Dr. Olweus has been studying bullying trends in school around the globe, and he has come up with the most effective and successful intervention program to date.
The next step of implementing a bully free program would be to study and understand why some programs succeed and why others fail. A majority of zero-tolerance programs tend to fail because although they are good intentioned, completely eliminating bullies from schools is just not a realistic possibility. Research indicates that 20% of students admit to bullying another student at some point during their school career, but kicking 20% of students out of school obviously will not work. Another program that has a strong history of failure is the group therapy program. A bully needs good role models, so containing them with like offenders can result in an over exposure to non-social behaviors. The final program that usually results in failure would be the conflict resolution program. Since bullies tend to victimize, putting the bully and victim together can upsetting to the victim. Programs that tend to be more successful are those that take a School wide approach. The foundation of any bullying prevention program requires school wide approach and commitment. The staff and Administration must embrace the new changes. This means changing the norms for social behavior in the school environment. Also continuous programs with no ending date are crucial for a successful program. Students must understand it is an important topic throughout the entire year, rather then just a single month. Most research on bullying provides these four rules that schools should adopt regarding bullying according to Dr. Melinda Bossenmeyer: “1.Do not bully. Help others when you see bullying occur. (Step in or get help of an adult.) Include others (invite students to be a part of games and activities.) Tell an adult at home or school if you experience bullying.”
If I were to create a bully free program I would hope to target young elementary school students in hopes of instilling a strong base of non-violent behavior for the rest of their school careers. The first step I would take in creating a bully free program would be to establish and train a bully free program team (committee) and develop a time line with certain goals I would like to see accomplished. Teachers and school administrators