School bullying

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					                  Vodcast Three:
School Bullying   Interventions in
                      cases of

  Dr Ken Rigby
   Consultant         Developed for
Proactive and Reactive Approaches

   The proactive or universal approach targets
    everyone in the school community in an attempt to
    stop bullying ever happening
   The reactive or interventive approach targets those
    individuals or groups who are actually involved in
    bully/victim problems

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Why the proactive approach is
never entirely successful

   Some individuals are highly predisposed to act aggressively
   Negative or inadequate parenting and family influence leads
    some children to become involved in bully/victim problems at
   Some neighbourhoods instil prejudiced attitudes and promote
    aggressive behaviour
   Exposure to violence through the media can induce some
    children to act aggressively

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Two stages of intervening by
school staff

1.   When a teacher observes a student or group of
     students bullying someone and decides to
     intervene on the spot

2.   When it is decided that further action at a later
     stage needs to be taken to deal with the issue –
     which has come to the school’s attention

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What is a case of bullying?

   A student is being seriously harmed physically and/or
    psychologically by a more powerful person or group

   What is happening is unfair and is expected to continue unless it
    is stopped

   The target evidently does not appear to have the skills or
    resources to handle the situation

   It is decided that time and resources must be allocated to
    addressing what is happening.

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How successful are interventions
with actual cases of bullying?

        To answer this question approx 38,000 Australian
         students aged 8 to 16 years were asked:
    I.      Whether they had ever been bullied at school
    II.     Whether they had told anyone
    III.    Whether they had told a teacher
    IV.     After telling a teacher whether things improved,
            stayed the same or got worse (Rigby, 2008)

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    What happens when teachers
    are told?

   According to students, in about 50% of cases reported by
    students to a teacher the situation does not improve

   In 10% of cases the situation gets worse

   Interventions are less successful with older students

   There is a great need for intervention in cases to be improved.

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Six major methods of intervening

1.   The Traditional Disciplinary Method
2.   Strengthening the Victim to Resist
3.   Mediation
4.   Restorative Practice
5.   The Support Group Method
6.   The Method of Shared Concern

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Traditional Disciplinary Method

The Traditional Disciplinary Method is commonly seen as
justified when:

    A perpetrator is found to be responsible for the bullying

    He or she is deemed to deserve to be punished

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    The rationale

   The imposition of the penalty – and commonly the threat of further
    punishment – will deter the perpetrator from continuing to bully

   The punishment will send a message to other students and deter
    them from bullying

   In general, students will not dare bully

   It should be recognised that there are some clearly undesirable
    ways of carrying out this method – for instance when the penalties
    are arbitrary and seemingly vindictive

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How the Traditional Disciplinary
Method can be used more acceptably

   The sanctions are consistent with school rules governing
    behaviour - especially if the rules have been publicised and
    endorsed by the school community

   The sanctions are administered in such a way as to respect
    the person of the bully - and focus on the unacceptable

   Pains are subsequently taken to reinforce behaviour that is
    positive - and incompatible with a bullying style of behaving

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Limitations of the Traditional
Disciplinary Method

   At best it produces compliance and not a self-sustaining
    ‘change of heart’

   The bullying commonly does not stop - those punished often
    engage in less conspicuous but equally hurtful forms of

   It is difficult - if not impossible - to provide the necessary
    surveillance to ensure the victim’s safety

   The positive reinforcement of the bully’s supporters may be
    more powerful than any negative reinforcement the school can

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When the disciplinary approach
appears more justified

   The bullying is extreme or actually criminal and a
    disciplinary response is required

   There appears to be no alternative way of proceeding – as
    for example when non-punitive methods have been

                                       Developed for
Questions to discuss – and an

       At your school do you think students who are being bullied usually
        approach staff members for help?
       When staff are told, how much help do you think they are to
       How would you handle a case of low to medium severity bullying,
        for example the one described in the Handling Bullying
    –      Complete the Handling Bullying Questionnaire
    –      Compare your results with those obtained by most Australian
    –      Where you differ from most of the Australian respondents, ask
           yourself why
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