Why are we not surprised?
Everyone knows that bullying is bad. Everyone also knows more and more children are being bullied. The pusillanimous leaders of our educational institutions have failed to take direct, punitive action against bullies. Thus, it continues, unmolested.
You will certainly not be surprised to learn that these same administrators have decided to fight bullying with increased self-awareness and consciousness-raising. They have instituted anti-bullying programs that make bullies feel bad about themselves and tell their victims how best to defend themselves. They seem to believe that empathy will solve the problem.
It’s almost as though they are trying to cure bullying through group therapy.
The result: more bullying. Not only that, more effective bullying.
A criminologist from the University of Texas at Arlington did a national survey. He was shocked by the results:
University of Texas at Arlington criminologist Seokjin Jeong analyzed data collected from 7,000students from all 50 states.
He thought the results would be predictable and would show that anti-bullying programs curb bullying. Instead — he found the opposite.
Jeong said it was, “A very disappointing and a very surprising thing. Our anti-bullying programs, either intervention or prevention does not work.”
The study concluded that students at schools with anti-bullying programs might actually be more likely to become a victim of bullying. It also found that students at schools with no bullying programs were less likely to become victims.
The results were stunning for Jeong. “Usually people expect an anti-bullying program to have some impact — some positive impact.”
In anti-bullying videos children are shown different types of bullying—presumably you don’t know you are being bullied until you’ve seen a video—and constructive ways to respond.
The result: the bullies are learning new and better ways to bully.
Amazingly the videos also teach bullies how better to get away with it:
The student videos used in many campaigns show examples of bullying and how to intervene. But Jeong says they may actually teach students different bullying techniques — and eveneducate about new ways to bully through social media and texting.
Jeong said students with ill intentions “…are able to learn, there are new techniques [and gain] new skills.” He says students might see examples in videos and then want to try it.
According to Jeong, some programs even teach students how to bully without leaving evidence behind. “This study raises an alarm,” he said. “There is a possibility of negative impact from anti-bullying programs.”
Consider this: if you show victims how they can respond, sensitively, you are telling the bullies that you, as an adult are not going to protect their victims. You are saying that no adult authority will intervene forcefully to stop the bullying. It's open season for bullies.
The moral of the story: as long as there are no real sanctions against bullies they will continue to do as they do. Appealing to their empathy for their victims just makes things worse.