In U.S. schools, one out of every four kids is bullied on a regular basis. About 160,000 kids miss school every day for fear of being bullied. The scary stats have led many school districts to implement anti-bullying programs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean things are getting better.
The worst bullying cases are the ones that grab headlines… The ones that end a life too soon.
But, there are no “best cases.”
The rise in awareness has put school officials and policymakers in a tail spin, creating anti-bullying campaigns in our schools. The problem is, sometimes the bullies might actually benefit from those programs.
“Students may learn what is bullying and what type of techniques and skills are there. Then, also, there’s the possibility they may learn how to avoid getting caught,” said Seokjin Jeong, Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at UT-Arlington.
Jeong stumbled on an unfortunate fact in a study recently published in the Journal of Criminology: schools with anti-bullying programs tend to have more bullying victims.
He set out to look into what causes bullying and the effectiveness of anti-bullying programs. He didn’t expect to find more bullying victims at schools with programs aimed at fighting the problem. but he did.
It could be that more students have learned to report it, or that bullies are learning how to be better bullies.
“Throughout that bullying prevention, students may learn skills and techniques,” said Jeong.
Either way, Jeong says his study shows the programs need to change.
“We have to do something, including family and community involvement. Based on the evidence, this is crucial, the role of parents and the community active participation is very very positive and effective. So, we have to consider how to actively engage parents in the anti-bullying program,” said Jeong.