We must continue to reduce and then finally eliminate bullying in our schools. But where do we begin? Perhaps a good first step is to use the following criteria when identifying high quality programs.
- Research-Based. Effective programs have been through rigorous examination that show they work. The results are published in peer-reviewed journals.
- Evidence-Based. The programs should be implemented in a new context and then undergo additional evaluation to have evidence that they are effective.
- Comprehensive. The programs include diagnosis, intervention, and prevention of a bullying problem.
- Systemic. School-wide implementation is the optimal commitment. It includes every adult in the building who comes into direct contact with students. It also takes into account every nook and cranny of the building, from the media center and the hallways to the cafeteria and the classrooms.
- Sustained. Any successful bullying prevention program is perceived as a process over time. Substantive changes in schools occur over several years. Annual training, especially for newcomers in the building, is important.
- Focused on Social-Emotional Learning. Effective bullying prevention programs have a large component on social-emotional health. The five core competencies of SEL are addressed: self-awareness, social awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and decision-making skills.
Once these criteria are met, you realize the scope of an effective bullying program. The key to effective implementation is to strategize. Identify first what you are already doing, then survey your staff and students to focus on areas of greatest need, and finally, be strategic as you develop awareness and plan for implementation.
"It's our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our actions." ~ J.K. Rowling