Bully prevention programs

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Bully prevention programs

Many of the anti-bullying prevention programs are not producing positive results for a number of reasons. First, there's this assumption that bullying happens as an isolated event, when in fact, we know that bullying co-occurs with sexual harassment, homophobic teasing, other forms of aggression. And so if these anti-bullying prevention programs do not identify all of those things that are associated with bullying, then we're not going to decrease bullying in ours schools and communities. In addition to that, many of these programs do not give kids life or social skills to be able to interact and manage conflicts, even around bullying. So if we're just telling kids to stop bullying and intervene, but then we're not giving them skills to intervene or to communicate around conflict resolution skills, then again, we're going to fall short of decreasing bullying. And then finally, we need to recognize when we think about just as adults telling kids to do the right thing and to intervene, we're missing the big picture in that bullying is maintained by a peer norm, a code of silence in the schools where going to an adult is seen as a weak option, where kids suffer in silence. And so these anti-bullying prevention programs assume that the ways in which adults think about bullying is going to help us decrease bullying, and unfortunately they're not effective.

Watch Dorothy Espelage's video on Bully prevention programs...


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Dorothy Espelage

Professor of Child Development

Dorothy L. Espelage, PhD, is a Professor of Child Development in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  She is a University Scholar and has fellow status in Division 17 (Counseling Psychology) of the American Psychological Association.  She earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Indiana University in 1997. She has conducted research on bullying, homophobic teasing, sexual harassment, and dating violence for the last 18 years. As a result, she presents regularly at regional, national, and international conferences and is author on over 90 professional publications.  She is co-editor of four published books including Bullying in North American Schools: A Social-Ecological Perspective on Prevention and Intervention and International Handbook of Bullying published by Routledge. She is Associate Editor of the Journal of Counseling Psychology. She has presented thousands of workshops and in-service training seminars for teachers, administrators, counselors, and social workers across the U.S.  Her research focuses on translating empirical findings into prevention and intervention programming.  She is currently funded by the CDC for a randomized clinical trial of a bullying prevention program in 36 middle schools. She authored a 2011 White House Brief on bullying among LGBTQ youth and attended the White House Conference in 2011. She is also funded by National Science Foundation to develop better methods to assess bullying among adolescents and CDC and NIJ are funding a longitudinal study of predictors of bullying and dating violence among adolescents. Dr. Espelage has appeared on many television news and talk shows, including The Today Show; CNN; CBS Evening News; The Oprah Winfrey Show, Anderson, Anderson 360 and has been quoted in the national print press, including Time Magazine, USA Today, People, Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal. Her dedicated team of undergraduate and graduate students are committed to the dissemination of the research through various mechanisms.

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