Article Description
Eight Keys to End Bullying Everyone has a story when it comes to bullying. As a licensed social worker, school counselor, and national educator, I have heard many first-hand accounts of bullying, from triumphant efforts to end unwanted aggression to heart-wrenching stories of relentless torment. I am routinely appalled by how ubiquitous cruelty has become.  Yet, despite the pain, I am hopeful. I believe we have an opportunity to change the culture of bullying among young people and I think the answer begins with those who live and work with young people every day.  It is not complicated policies or grandiose programs that make the most difference, but rather consistent, daily, nurturing acts of reaching out to both children who bully and those who are are the receiving end of cruelty that bring about the most meaningful and lasting change. Here is an outline of key steps that have the greatest impact on helping kids, drawn from my new book, 8 Keys to End Bullying. 1. Know bullying when you see it Bullying is clearly defined as having three elements: intentionally aggressive behavior that is repeated over time and involving an imbalance of power. It is most often used to gain social status, to maintain power and control over another, and for peer attention.  In our culture of 24/7 news cycles and social media sound bites, we have a better opportunity than ever before to bring attention to this important issue. But when we overuse the term ‘bullying’ or make it synonymous with terms more related to everyday conflict,  we run the risk of making people so sick and tired of hearing about our issue that it loses its urgency as quickly as it rose to prominence. It is important to distinguish behavior that rises to the level of bullying from behaviors that indicate rudeness or mean behavior so that teachers, youth workers, and parents know what to pay attention to and when to intervene.  We don’t want bullying in schools to become a “little boy who cried wolf” issue.2. Establish connections with kids Connections with kids are the essential prerequisite for any growth and change an adult can facilitate. When a child perceives that adults in his life are truly invested in his wellbeing and interested in his experiences, he is more willing to talk about what is going on in his life and to be open to adult feedback. Without strong adult connections, kids that bully can act without the hindrance of adult disapproval, victims feel isolated from sources of potential support, and bystanders have no one to whom they can turn to report bullying behavior. Adults need to make it easy for kids to talk to them. Maintaining calm, expressing sympathy, thanking the child for having the strength to reach out, encouraging problem solving together, and following up later to make sure a proposed solution worked—those are all ways adults can support kids and nurture relationships that will help stop bullying. If kids believe they are safe to reach out to adults, and that things will get better if they do, they will feel less isolated and will more likely report bullying. 3. Stop bullying whenever you see it Most bullying goes unseen by adults—up to seventy-five percent of incidents happen in kid-only locations like the playground, bathroom, or the bus. But when adults see something happening, they must be ready to intervene. The most effective approach to stopping bullying is often the least wordy one. In many cases, the briefer, the better. Here are some suggested statements teachers can make when they witness bullying: “It’s not OK to say that to someone in my classroom. Are we clear?” “Sending that kind of text about a classmate is unacceptable. That cannot happen again.” “Leaving one kid out of the group is not going to work. Let’s fix this and move on.” The benefit of brief statements like these is that they don’t humiliate or alienate anyone. Instead, they let everyone know the teacher is paying attention, and they send a strong signal that bullying won’t be tolerated. 4. Deal directly with cyberbullying Adults have made a giant misstep in recent years by choosing not to take responsibility for responding to aggression that occurs through technology. School personnel say they can’t do anything because it didn’t occur at school; law enforcement say they can’t get involved unless there’s a clear crime; and parents don’t feel they can keep up with what their kids are doing online. This across-the-board abdication of responsibility by adults have given kids who bully evidence that they can control peer culture online, free and unfettered of adult intervention. Cyberbullying can be distinctly harmful because it can occur anonymously and cruelty can go viral at the touch of a key. Kids find it far easier to be cruel when they don’t have to lock eyes with the object of their viciousness. There is no safe place for victims, because the online attack can happen without the victim being in the same place as the perpetrator. One of the most important things that adults can do to prevent bullying online is to maintain strong connections with kids offline. Young people will never feel safe talking to adults about what is happening in cyberspace if their real-world relationships are not already strong.  Parents also play a key role in teaching kids commonsense standards for the use of technology, basing rules on values of kindness and compassion, and enforcing these agreements in consistently caring ways. 5. Build social and emotional skills Stopping bullying means more than catching the perpetrators in the act. Instead, it begins by creating overall positive school cultures. That means taking concrete actions to champion acceptance, honor diversity, foster cooperation, establish connections with kids, and facilitate open communication among staff and students. It also involves social and emotional learning. Bullying prevention programs that focus on building social and emotional competencies in all kids achieve better results than interventions aimed only at kids who bully. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs have been shown to create more positive peer relationships, build higher levels of caring and empathy, increase social engagement, and reduce problem behaviors. What’s more, on average students who receive SEL programming academically outperform their peers and graduate at higher rates. SEL programming in schools can help prevent bullying in many ways: by increasing kids’ emotional regulation, by instructing kids on how to manage stress and control their impulses; by increasing empathy; by teaching problem-solving skills; by practicing assertive communication, and by fostering friendship skills. 6. Turn bystanders Into buddies Research suggests that peers are present during nine out of every 10 incidents of bullying—but intervene on behalf of victims less than 20 percent of the time. When peers do step in to stop bullying, however, the episode stops within 10 seconds more than half of the time. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon adults to figure out best ways to encourage peers to intervene. For kids to become empowered, they need to believe that stopping bullying starts with them. They must learn to feel a connection to a bullied child, understand that their friendships can endure doing the right thing, know how to use assertive communication, and feel confident that their intervention will have a positive impact. Kids with high social status often make the best interveners, because of their outsized influence on the peer group and their relative immunity from the backlash of vengeful aggressors. Some of the most effective programs in schools build on this principle, pairing high-status kids with vulnerable peers. This experience benefits both the potential victim, who gains social status, and the high status kid, who learns the benefits of kindness and compassion. 7. Reach out to kids who bully Because bullying is marked by repeated acts of aggression that intentionally harm others and is committed by individuals who hold more power than their victims, bullying behavior is predictive of troubling mental health and behavioral outcomes, like substance abuse, depression, and criminal behavior. For safety reasons alone, professionals and parents should reach out to kids who bully while they are young and their behavior is still highly changeable. When approached by adults who are ready to listen, young people who bully tend to talk; when approached by adults who are ready to accuse, they tend to be defensive. Too often what’s meted out to kids who behave badly has more to do with fulfilling an adult’s need to win than with meeting a child’s need to learn, make amends, and grow. Instead of telling kids what they shouldn’t do, it’s more effective to say what they should do—to teach them appropriate social skills and ways of managing conflicts. Punishment alone does nothing to prevent future bullying and can, in fact, aggravate a bad situation. 8. Keep the conversation going Many adults who desperately and genuinely want to do right by kids give up on even attempting to manage incidents of bullying because they feel so overwhelmed by the complexity of the challenge. There are other adults who operate strictly from a risk management perspective, going through the motions of intervening in bullying without assessing if their intervention is effective or sufficient. But this is not enough to keep kids safe. Instead, opening up an ongoing dialogue with kids about social conflicts, friendships, and navigating difficulties they may face is more effective, because it shows you care and that you understand their world. Maintaining an open dialogue about bullying and making sure we continue to shine a bright light on it is the only way we will bring an end to this long-standing problem. Only by keeping the conversation going will we be able to deter bullying in the future and keep all children safe.  
Best of Our Blogs: August 26, 2014 “Most people are manipulated by the approval of others, the paycheck that supports them, and the lifestyle that has handcuffed them to the brass ring of perceived success. On this path we eventually live like slaves to a man-made system. We chase the goals of others instead of pursuing our...
Does your computer know how you’re feeling? Researchers in Bangladesh have designed a computer programme that can accurately recognise users’ emotional states as much as 87% of the time, depending on the emotion. Writing in the journal Behaviour & Information Technology, A.F.M. Nazmul Haque Nahin and his colleagues describe how their study combined – for the first time – two established ways of detecting user [...]The post Does your computer know how you’re feeling? appeared first on PsyPost.
New hope in fight against muscular dystrophy Research at Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology offers hope to those who suffer from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, an incurable, debilitating disease that cuts young lives short. An international team that includes KTH researchers Christina Al-Khalili Szigyarto and Mathias Uhlén report that they discovered how to create a variant of dystrophin that can mitigate muscle [...]The post New hope in fight against muscular dystrophy appeared first on PsyPost.
Study explores the social norms of electronic cigarette use by teenagers “The Social Norms and Beliefs of Teenage Male Electronic Cigarette Use,” a research study published in Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse (Routledge), delves into the social norms and beliefs of teenage male electronic cigarette users.  Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are battery operated inhalation devices that provide warm, vaporized nicotine to users without the inconvenience of tobacco smoke.  [...]The post Study explores the social norms of electronic cigarette use by teenagers appeared first on PsyPost.
Study shows zoning regulations impact where marijuana dispensaries can locate Municipal zoning regulations may push marijuana dispensaries into low-income, minority areas, according to a study just released by the University of Colorado Denver. Published in the Journal of the American Planning Association, the leading professional and academic planning resource, the study shows that government regulations will likely cause an inequitable distribution of marijuana business throughout the city. Though [...]The post Study shows zoning regulations impact where marijuana dispensaries can locate appeared first on PsyPost.
Sleep drunkenness disorder may affect 1 in 7 A study is shining new light on a sleep disorder called “sleep drunkenness.” The disorder may be as prevalent as affecting one in every seven people. The research is published in the August 26, 2014, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Sleep drunkenness disorder involves confusion or inappropriate behavior, [...]The post Sleep drunkenness disorder may affect 1 in 7 appeared first on PsyPost.
Could My Partner Be A Cybersex Addict? It is distressing for most partners to find evidence of their partner’s cybersex use. Cybersex can include viewing sexual images or content online, talking about the material with others online, or engaging in two-way conversations about sex acts. It can also include the use of Web cameras to engage in...
Sapiosexuality -- What Attracts You to the Opposite Sex? If you are attracted to the intelligence of the opposite sex, then you might be considered sapiosexual, a new term coined by the urban dictionary.
‘Robo Brain’ will teach robots everything from the Internet Robo Brain – a large-scale computational system that learns from publicly available Internet resources – is currently downloading and processing about 1 billion images, 120,000 YouTube videos, and 100 million how-to documents and appliance manuals. The information is being translated and stored in a robot-friendly format that robots will be able to draw on when [...]The post ‘Robo Brain’ will teach robots everything from the Internet appeared first on PsyPost.
Changes in the eye can predict changes in the brain Researchers at the Gladstone Institutes and University of California, San Francisco have shown that a loss of cells in the retina is one of the earliest signs of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) in people with a genetic risk for the disorder—even before any changes appear in their behavior. Published today in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, the [...]The post Changes in the eye can predict changes in the brain appeared first on PsyPost.
Study of brain scans explains why children grow slowly and childhood lasts so long A five-year old’s brain is an energy monster. It uses twice as much glucose (the energy that fuels the brain) as that of a full-grown adult, a new study led by Northwestern University anthropologists has found. The study helps to solve the long-standing mystery of why human children grow so slowly compared with our closest [...]The post Study of brain scans explains why children grow slowly and childhood lasts so long appeared first on PsyPost.
Anticipating experience-based purchases more enjoyable than material ones To get the most enjoyment out of our dollar, science tells us to focus our discretionary spending on trips over TVs, on concerts over clothing, since experiences tend to bring more enduring pleasure than do material goods. New research shows that the enjoyment we derive from experiential purchases may begin before we even buy. The findings are published in Psychological [...]The post Anticipating experience-based purchases more enjoyable than material ones appeared first on PsyPost.
Study shows 25 percent fewer opioid-related deaths in states allowing medical marijuana On average, states allowing the medical use of marijuana have lower rates of deaths resulting from opioid analgesic overdoses than states without such laws. Opioid analgesics, such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin, are prescribed for moderate to severe pain, and work by suppressing a person’s perception of pain. A new multi-institutional study, published in JAMA Internal [...]The post Study shows 25 percent fewer opioid-related deaths in states allowing medical marijuana appeared first on PsyPost.
Yellow pigment in eye may aid vision through haze Individuals with greater amounts of yellow pigment in the eye may be better able to see distant objects in hazy conditions, suggests a study in the September issue of Optometry and Vision Science, official journal of the American Academy of Optometry. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health. Increased macular pigment [...]The post Yellow pigment in eye may aid vision through haze appeared first on PsyPost.
New research: Parents of anxious children can avoid the ‘protection trap’ Parents naturally comfort their children when they are scared, but new research shows that some reactions may actually reinforce their children’s feelings of anxiety. A new Arizona State University study shows that parents whose children suffer from anxiety often fall into the “protection trap” that may influence their child’s behavior. The paper, “Variations in the [...]The post New research: Parents of anxious children can avoid the ‘protection trap’ appeared first on PsyPost.
Learning by watching, toddlers show intuitive understanding of probability Most people know children learn many skills simply by watching people around them. Without explicit instructions youngsters know to do things like press a button to operate the television and twist a knob to open a door. Now researchers have taken this further, finding that children as young as age 2 intuitively use mathematical concepts [...]The post Learning by watching, toddlers show intuitive understanding of probability appeared first on PsyPost.
5 Chick Flix Rules For Finding and Sustaining True Love Rule Number One: Be physically perfect. Right, so let's move on to the other rules because they're the source of true and lasting romantic chemistry in the movies and real life too.
Legacy Wars: Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates Legacies are about more than achievements
Grieving the Loss of Time Sometimes starting a new life can bring up grief and regret for the old life. While I am happy to have new experiences without the pain and anxiety of the past, it makes me wish there had been more of it. Time is such a tricky aspect of the human...