The Problem . . The Challenge . . The Tools . . The Solution . . !
The Problem: Research carried out in 2008 by the Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, found that 30.2% of students (30.3% girls, 30.1% boys) reported that they had been bullied in the previous couple of months. In addition, 24.9% of students (11.5% girls and 30.9% boys) reported that they had taken part in the bullying of others at school. (Anti-Bullying Centre, 2008). This situation is by no means unique to Ireland. It is very worrying because wherever it occurs bullying has such a serious negative impact in both the short term and the long term on targeted students. Indeed, if this kind of behaviour is allowed to persist it can have a very negative impact on the bullying student too. Dan Olweus found, in a Swedish study in 1993 that approximately 60% of boys who were described by teachers and peers as being bullies had at least one criminal conviction by the age of 24 and that 35-40% of these bullying students had 3 or more criminal convictions by this age. In the long run, then, bullying is bad for everyone involved and everyone stands to benefit if it can be prevented or reduced.
The Challenge: Have you ever wished you could contribute to reducing bullying in your school? Where would you begin? There is a lot of information available as to the nature of bullying, where, why and how it takes place, the damage it does and the urgency of preventing it. Bullied students and their parents are always, and rightly advised to report bullying to teachers. However, there has been a scarcity of both training and ready-made, easy-to-use practical tools that busy teachers in secondary schools (age 12-18) can use to minimise bullying and to deal with incidents when they arise.
The Tools: We are offering secondary teachers ready-made downloadable anti-bullying tools for each year-group in their schools and an easy to follow school-wide framework in which to use them. We have been developing or adapting them since 2004 in Coláiste Éanna, Ballyroan Rd., Dublin 16, Ireland (a school in the Edmund Rice Schools Trust - formerly C.B.S.). We have been guided in our efforts by the wisdom of such well-known writers and researchers in this field as Dr. Mona O'Moore (Ireland), Dr. Dan Olweus (Norway) and Dr. Ken Rigby (Australia). This development is ongoing. We offer these tools free of charge because we believe that student welfare, safety and happiness are rights that should not have a price-tag. Indeed, we hope that any other teachers who have useful anti-bullying tools/resources will share these with us and through this website with colleagues in other schools on the same basis - a kind of teachers' anti-bullying co-operative. Then students can benefit even more.
The Solution: Using these tools to implement the Anti-Bullying Campaign programme in schools bullying is reduced, students who bully are reformed, bystanders become more vigilant and supportive of targeted students and the lives of targeted students are made a lot happier. There will probably always be some bullying in schools, as elsewhere, but by implementing the Anti-Bullying Campaign programme in schools a culture of the Three "R"s can be developed, a culture where bullying is Recognised, Rejected and Reported by students. Teachers are then empowered to respond effectively to reports of bullying behaviour using our "Reform, not Blame" approach to deal with the bullying situations. Full implementation of the Anti-Bullying Campaign programme in Coláiste Éanna led to a significant reduction in both the number of students bullied and the intensity of bullying incidents. It also enabled over 90% of bullying situations to be resolved without any negative repercussions for either targeted students, bullying students or observers. The programme continues to deliver this success rate.
The tools we offer are not a "quick-fix" solution to bullying. They depend for their effectiveness on the willingness of teachers to use them and a commitment from schools to give priority to implementation of the Anti-Bullying Campaign programme. To minimise the workload involved for teachers, the tools we offer are ready-made and generally self-explanatory - we have already done the preparation and planning for you.
Our comprehensive Anti-Bullying Campaign pregramme is more effective at reducing bullying in schools than an "anti-bullying week" or other occasional one-off anti-bullying events. It is more effective than relying on SPHE, CSPE and Religious Education programmes or indeed all of these. The fact that bullying is still so widespread in schools is evidence that these, without an ongoing dedicated and effective anti-bullying programme, have limited impct. Therefore, we encourage you and a group of your teacher colleagues to register above (click on the "Register" icon above and follow the instructions). Together, you can then implement a successful Anti-Bullying Campaign programme in your school along the lines we suggest. We believe that no work teachers do is more important or should get higher priority than this. If you do this we think that when you see the outcome you will consider it well worth the effort. Your students certainly will.Anti-Bullying Campaign logo by Eoin Kelleher, 4th year student, 2008. Note the faces in the clouds.