Showing posts from 2019

A New Lens for Bullying Prevention

First appeared July 30, 2019 at
Bullying behavior remains prevalent in American schools and a persistent problem for students. The results of two surveys given every two years help to explain this prevalence. First, results from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (2007-2017) show the rate of bullying as stable over the past decade for high school students, with about 20% of students reporting being bullied on school property (Center for Disease Control, 2017). The second survey, the National Crime Victimization Survey (2005-2015), includes all secondary students and allows for a break down of bullying data by grade level. According to the results of this survey, students in grades 6-8 report higher incidents of bullying when compared to high school students (National Center for Education Statistics, 2016). The following chart shows bullying frequency by grade levels 6-12:

Why does bullying remain a stable and unacceptable issue…

Misdirection in Bullying Prevention

First posted August 12, 2019 for the International Bullying Prevention Association
A new school year brings the opportunity to renew and strengthen bullying prevention efforts. Before implementation, however, it is important to identify what is already in place and reflect on how effective these programs and strategies have been. This is especially important, as some of the traditional ways of approaching bullying prevention result in more damage to the school culture and to students themselves.

In 2016 the National Academies of Sciences released the report Preventing Bullying Through Science, Policy, and Practice that included “Nonrecommended Approaches” to bullying prevention. Despite no evidence of their positive effects and compelling reasons why they should be avoided, some of these bullying prevention approaches are still commonly found in schools and communities. Some of this misdirection in bullying prevention include zero tolerance, giving advice only, expecting bystanders…

(A Sense of) Safety First

First appeared as a blog post for the International Bullying Prevention Association on July 30, 2019 Since the 1950s, American schools have been engaging in safety preparedness, beginning with fire drills, evolving into additional emergency protocols, and finally with active shooter training. Unfortunately, no evidence exists that these measures bring any improvements in the sense of safety. As Dr. Daniel Siegel (2015) explains, students need to be “seen, safe, and soothed, in order to feel secure” (p. 145), and these needs will not be met by current school safety practices alone. As collective wisdom considers the emotional and social impact of these safety measures, it is important to note that for more than a decade, US students have been reporting how many of them miss school because of safety concerns. Karyn Purvis and her colleagues remind us, there is a difference between being safe and feeling safe: “Felt safety, which has to be determined by each individual, includes emotional…

Bullying Prevention as a Trauma-Informed Approach

Article #4 of the IBPA Trauma Series First posted July 12, 2019
In using the lens of trauma, the effects of bullying are better understood for their widespread impact on all involved in a bullying situation. This lens then allows for a systems-level approach to bullying prevention through trauma-informed practices.
The foundation of trauma-informed practices is a safe and supportive school community where students have a strong sense of belonging. Dr. Caelan Soma and Derrick Allen of Starr Commonwealth have developed 10 steps for creating trauma-informed schools.  Provide school-wide childhood trauma awareness and understanding of how trauma impacts children’s learning and behavior. Any person can help students thrive when they understand the impact of stress and trauma on learning.View trauma as an experience rather than an incident or a diagnostic category. When bullying or any traumatic event occurs, it marks the beginning of an experience that may last for months or even years.Bel…

Viewing Bullying through the Lens of Trauma

Article 1 of the IBPA Trauma Series
Originally posted June 27, 2019
In August 2017, the US Department of Health and Human Services released Bullying as an Adverse Childhood Experience on its site. This fact sheet calls for all involved in bullying prevention efforts to have a strong understanding of trauma, to see the relationship between trauma and bullying, and to develop a shared vision of how bullying prevention might become a part of trauma-informed practices. 
What is trauma? Trauma is an experience that leaves a person feeling hopeless or helpless, perceiving a tremendous loss of safety and fear for survival. The details of a traumatic event itself are not important; instead, the focus must be on the way people experience the event.  When the brain perceives threat to safety, whether that threat is real or imagined, the most instinctual part of the brain (often called the reptilian brain) goes into survival mode. This powerful automatic response is often catego…