In a study published in the Journal of Criminology on May 28, 2013, a team of researchers found that students at schools with anti-bullying initiatives are actually more likely to be victims of bullying than students who attend schools without such programs. The findings contradict the popular belief that anti-bullying programs help prevent physical and emotional bullying. Lead author, Seokjin Jeong said in a statement that the programs may help students learn what a bully does and looks like, teaching them how to better hide their behaviors. This is an interesting study and a premise that you may find interesting.

“... Students at schools with anti-bullying initiatives are actually more likely to be victims of bullying...”

There is SOME truth in this...IF the anti-bullying program is NOT a research-based program orit is a poor application of the research. Here’s what research suggest:When teacher in-services were conducted with this regard, a positive impact on the identification of bullying behaviors, frequency of bullying, attitudes of bullying and ability to appropriatelya bullying prevention program: A public school-county health partnership. Reclaiming Children and Youth: The Journal of Strength-based Interventions, 16(4), 25-33. (ERIC Document Reproduction Services No.EJ794189)

Bullying is learned, and it can be unlearned. See Shields, A., & Cicchetti, D. (2001). Parental Maltreatment and Emotion Dysregulation as Risk Factors for Bullying and Victimization. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30(3), 349-363. AN AVERAGE 50% REDUCTION OF INCIDENTS ARE BEING REPORTED IN SCHOOLS THAT HAVE ANTI-BULLYING PROGRAMS. See DiBasilio, A. (2008, May 1). Reducing bullying in middle school students through the use of student-leaders. (Doctoral Dissertation, Saint Xavier University and Pearson Achievement Solutions, Inc.). (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED501251). Also see Packman, J., Lepkowski, W., Overton, C., & Smaby, M., (2005). We’re not gonna take it: A student driven anti-bullying approach. Education, 125(4), 546-556.

Jeong goes on to say, “The schools with interventions say, ‘You shouldn’t do this,’ or ‘you shouldn't do that."

Indeed. Schools that focus on what students SHOULDN’T do are bound to see the kind of negative results this study boasts. That is why initiatives like the Department of Education’s “Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports” (PBIS), to name one focuses on what students SHOULD do.

A DELUGE of research suggests the most effective anti-bullying strategy is SELFEMPOWERMENT. See “Bullying Prevention and Intervention: Realistic Strategies for Adults Working with Youth” by Susan M. Swearer, PhD., October 11, 2013 (“Empowerment Initiative”, Also see Brenda K. Wiederhold and Giuseppe Riva. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. February 2012, 15(2): 67-68. doi:10.1089/cyber.2011.1533.

“Sometimes, bullies maintain their dominant social status among peers in school,” the study says. “As a result, the preventive strategies may become ineffective.”

While many well-meaning participants, including dignitaries and celebrities have stepped up to include anti-bullying messages and themes, most of them address the least effective populist, the bully. This turns out to be a major MINORITY, while the victim and bystanders make up the MAJORITY. In other words, they focus on the least effective group, those who choose bullying

Victims who apply strategic problem solving are found to be 13 TIMES MORE EFFECTIVE at de-escalating conflicts than are the aggressive, retaliatory or emotionally reactive responses most frequently used by targeted children. Without such assertive strategies, victims resort to a passive mode of tolerating the bullying by avoiding, acquiescing or ignoring the issue. See Wilton, M.M., Craig, W.M. & Pepler, D.J. (2000). “Emotional regulation and display in classroom victims of bullying: Characteristic expressions of affect, coping styles and relevant contextual factors.” Social Development, 9(2).

This is EXACTLY why Jay Banks Productions developed the “I Am Unafraid” program – a researched-based, self-empowerment, anti-bullying program.

To cite one example, Oak Meadows Elementary School in Austin, TX has been using the strategies of the “I Am Unafraid” program and the presentations of Dr. Jay Banks (student assemblies & teacher in-services) since 2010. Oak Meadows has been reporting an average 50% reduction in bullying incidents compared to the other schools in the Manor School District. As a result, in the Fall of 2013 the Manor School District utilized the services of Dr. Banks and the strategies of the “I Am Unafraid” program in all of its elementary schools. Don’t let the thumbnail of bullying highlights like the above scare you. There IS hope. “I Am Unafraid” is documented HOPE!

You can see the study in its entirety here