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Bullying: The Epidemic
Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1992, schools have a legal responsibility to ensure a non-hostile environment is available to all students (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). However, bullying behaviors may not only threaten safe classrooms, but jeopardize learning classrooms as well. The U.S Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) reported: “Our nation’s schools should be safe havens for teaching and learning, free of crime and violence. Any instance of crime or violence at school not only affects the individuals involved but also may disrupt the educational process and affect bystanders, the school itself, and the surrounding community” (NCES citing Henry, 2000). “Ensuring safer schools requires establishing good indicators of the current state of school crime and safety across the nation and regularly updating and monitoring these indicators” (2007, para. 1).
How prevalent and pervasive is the problem? According to the NCES, “In 2005–06, 78 percent of schools experienced one or more violent incidents of crime, 17 percent experienced one or more serious violent incidents, 46 percent experienced one or more thefts, and 68 percent experienced another type of crime” (NCES, 2007, para 2). Additional research shows:
- 80-90% of adolescents reported being bullied during their school years.
- 15-30% of students report being victims of bullying regularly.
- 9 out 10 cases of bullying are NOT reported.
- 71% of students don’t report bullying incidences because they don’t think teachers care!
- Bullying begins in elementary school, peaks in middle school.
What Can Be Done? It is essential for counselors, administrators, teachers, students, and parents to work together to ensure program success (Adams, 2006). With a premise that bullying is a learned process that can be unlearned (Shields & Cicchetti, 2001), schools need to adopt bullying prevention ideologies and adapt new intervention methodologies. Studies by Ananiadou and Smith (2003) and Olweus (2003) found anti-bullying programs that sought to establish clear and consistent models of appropriate behavior and consequences for inappropriate ones, and create an endearing, positive school atmosphere inclusive of a school-wide approach (students, school staff and parents), along with empowering bystanders (Bonds & Stoker, 2000) show an average 50% REDUCTION OF BULLYING INCIDENCES (DiBasilio, 2008; Packman, Lepkowski, Overton, & Smaby, 2005).
What is “I Am Unafraid”?
Dr. Banks began the research-validated “STAMP Out Bullying” program 12 years ago. However, as a result of new research, and the advent of Positive Behavior Intervention & Supports (PBIS), the program has been re-framed into a four-point strategy, embodied in an easily remembered “UNAFRAID” acronym:
A – Avoid bullies
F – Find a friend
R – Report bullying
A – Act confident
What Do YOU Think?
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