Bystander Interventions: The Power of the Peer Group in Stopping Bullying

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Research suggests that peers are present during nine out of every 10 incidents of bullying but intervene on behalf of victims less than 20% of the time (Hawkins, Pepler & Craig, 2001). The same study documents that when peers do step in to stop bullying behaviors, however, the episode stops within 10 seconds, more than half of the time.  This holds true regardless of the specific words the bystander uses. In other words, it’s not how a young person intervenes so much as simply the fact that he does intervene, that brings about the desired change (Goldman, 2012).

Educating kids that their voice can make a difference is an empowering message with implications far beyond bullying prevention! What a gift for a young person to know that their words truly matter.

 

In 8 Keys to End Bullying: Strategies for Parents & Schools, I point out that in school settings, kids with high social status often make the best interveners in bullying situations because of their outsized influence on the peer group and their relative immunity from the backlash of vengeful aggressors.   Their expressed disapproval of an episode of unwanted aggression sends a strong and powerful message that bullying is not cool.  The news clip below is the perfect example of how a SIMPLE, SPONTANEOUS intervention by members of an 8th grade basketball team made a huge difference for a young person who was on the receiving end of cruel, public taunting…and how their spot-on words impacted their entire school community.

 

BE KNOWN FOR BEING KIND!

 

 

New Review of 8 Keys to End Bullying posted on PsychCentral

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A school playground aide sees third-grader Riley grab hold of classmate Liza’s scarf and choke her with it. Riley is subsequently viewed as the bully. But is there more to the story?

What the aide hasn’t witnessed is the endless ridicule Riley has experienced from Liza and Liza’s best friend, Jada. Liza and Jada have learned they can provoke emotional outbursts from Riley — a girl who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome — through constant social exclusion. Riley is a “bully-victim,” a young person who can be aggressive toward others but who can also be a target for bullying. She serves as a reminder that the culture of bullying is far more pernicious than we might realize.

It’s clear that bullying’s nuances do not elude Signe Whitson, a social worker and school counselor who writes about Riley and others in 8 Keys to End Bullying: Strategies for Parents & Schools. In this comprehensive book, Whitson argues with passion and clear-eyed conviction for various methods by which we can create safer and healthier learning environments.

Refreshingly, Whitson doesn’t build her case on untested anti-bullying advice, but instead takes a sledgehammer to many long-held myths by drawing upon real research. For example, Whitson points out, children are frequently told to ignore verbal bullying, but the literature shows this to be one of the least effective methods available. And bullies are often not driven by insecurity, as is commonly portrayed in the movies, but by a drive to increase their social status, Whitson writes.

From Whitson’s realistic understanding of student dynamics comes a practical set of strategies to reduce bullying in schools.  Click here to read more about these strategies and see the full review from PsychCentral.

 

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Bringing an End to Bullying with One Small Act Each Day

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If you’ve ever attended any of my Bullying Prevention presentations, you know I believe that it’s the everyday acts of kindness and humanity that have a bigger impact on bringing an end to bullying than any time-consuming, finger-wagging, program or policy.  Here’s a great example of one student’s “One Thing” that made all of the difference for him and for his school:

 

No Beauty Shines Brighter Than That of a Good Heart

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Holiday Gifts for Teachers and Counselors to Promote Bullying Prevention

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Looking for a truly useful gift for your child’s teacher or counselor?  Check out my books, filled with ready-to-use social-emotional lessons and information about improving school culture in order to bring an end to bullying!  Available with FAST SHIPPING from amazon.com!
http://www.amazon.com/Keys-End-Bullying-Strategies-Parents/dp/0393709280/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418741052&sr=1-1&keywords=8+keys+to+end+bullying+strategies+for+parents+%26+schools

 

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9 Ways Parents Can Support Kids After Bullying and Social Exclusion

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In their younger years, they were inseparable.  They begged for playdates, planned out sleepovers, coordinated afterschool activities, and just seemed to find genuine joy in each other’s company.  It was a match made in heaven, you observed, and you felt so lucky that your child had found such a positive friendship so early on in life.

Then, things changed.  Seemingly overnight.  One day, you are cajoling your tween to take a break from her 3-hour texting marathon with her bestie, and the next you notice that her cell phone suddenly sounds like radio silence.

Your daughter is devastated by this abrupt cut-off.  You watch as she desperately tries to figure out why her friend has stopped responding to texts and how come none of the kids at her lunch table will talk to her anymore.  But she can’t seem to glean any understanding of the cause.  She only knows with certainty that nothing is the same.

What can you do for your child when he or she is on the receiving end of a sudden deep freeze from former friends?  Read on for 9 strategies parents can use to support their children after bullying and social exclusion:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/passive-aggressive-diaries/201410/what-parents-can-do-when-their-kids-friendships-end-badly

 

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8 Ways to Teach Compassion to Kids

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While schools in the U.S. focus intensively on test scores, experts agree that social-emotional competency (demonstrating skills such as empathy and compassion) is a far better predictor of adult success. Read (and share, please) the article below to find simple ways to cultivate compassion in your kids.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/passive-aggressive-diaries/201407/8-ways-teach-compassion-young-people

 

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Bullying Prevention Training at The Harker School

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Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of speaking to thousands of parents, professionals and students about strategies to stop bullying. I feel honored to be invited to so many schools and communities and hope that the ideas I share are helping to change the culture of bullying. Thanks to the wonderful members of The Harker School in San Jose, CA for an especially terrific and inspiring day.

 

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Teaching Compassion as a Bullying Prevention Strategy

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In my Bullying Prevention trainings, I always talk about fostering empathy and compassion in kids as an “antidote” to bullying behaviors. It’s true that turning values into verbs (e.g. putting compassion into action) makes a noticeable difference in schools. Check out what this Superintendent said:

“Teaching compassion like this has a positive impact on school culture and learning as well. Superintendent Manhas reports that PBIS and the related compassion focus have led to a significant drop in discipline issues district-wide. In turn, this creates more academically-focused classrooms.”

Full article: http://www.thurstontalk.com/2014/10/21/north-thurston-public-schools-compassion-initiative/

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When Kids Make Mistakes Online: A Story of Social Media Frenemies

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During the elementary school years, most kids are very aware of technology but still quite naïve about all of the hurtful ways in which it can be used. Well into their adolescence even, many kids remain oblivious to the legal consequences of their online actions. This real-life example of innocence-gone-awry by way of technology underscores that one of the most important things adults can do to bring an end to cyberbullying is to teach young kids about the risks of their online behavior and to give them skills to protect themselves from lasting harm.

For the full article, please click here or paste this link into your browser: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/signe-whitson/what-happens-when-kids-ma_b_5953026.html

 

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