|Research comes in all
shapes and sizes. Some studies involve large scale trials of anti-bullying programmes,
such as those developed by Dan Olweus in Norway. This kind of research involves the
careful selection of experimental and 'control' schools and a range of measures to assess
the extent to which programmes have been successful in raising awareness about bullying
and in providing effective responses to it. From this kind of research, claims about the
effectiveness of particular kinds of interventions can be made, backed up by statistical
Other studies survey the nature and extent of bullying in schools and provide important information about this, exploring differences between the extent of bullying reported in primary and secondary schools, for instance, or between boys and girls. Andrew Mellor, the current manager of the Network, carried out one of the first kind of these studies in Scotland.
|Other studies, again,
focus on the personality and other characteristics of bullies and victims and use the
information gained to develop particular interventions aimed at, say, raising the self
esteem of victims, or developing skills of empathy for victims in bullies.
There are many small scale but equally important studies taking place in individual schools. Many of these are using an action research approach of recognising a problem, developing a course of action and researching its impact on the problem.
|This kind of work is
usually collaborative, involving a group of teachers, or pupils and teachers (and
sometimes parents, psychologists or others) working together to identify a problem and
ways of tackling it.
We would love to hear from you if you are involved in this kind of work, trying out ideas to tackle bullying and researching its effectiveness. For the work to count as research - rather than opinion or polemic - there needs to be robust evidence of how the idea is working. This might be perceptions of pupils, or observations of the way in which bullying incidents are handled, for example.
In this issue of Network news, we are launching a new, regular feature. We want to highlight action research projects but will also be interested in other kinds of research. Don't be shy and don't keep your results to yourself! The network exists to share information and ideas. We look forward to hearing from you.
Pamela Munn, Network Director
The first of our new regular research features is a letter all the way from New Zealand!
Is there any research that you know of that backs up the stand of promoting a positive school ethos as an effective way of reducing bullying? We all know this to be so, but we're wondering if there is some proof so to speak!
Dorothea Lewis and Aileen Cheshire (who support the Anti-Harassment Team at Selwyn College, New Zealand, www.aht-selwyn.school.nz).
Dear Dorothea and Aileen,
Dan Olweus carried out research which found a significant reduction in the level of bullying after the introduction of a school-based intervention programme in Bergen, Norway in the 1980s. This programme contained elements which were similar to those in many 'positive ethos' programmes. For example, Olweus talks about 'restructuring the social environment', regular class meetings with students', 'class PTA meetings' etc (for details of this and other research see The Nature of School Bullying - A Cross-National Perspective, edited by PK Smith et al, Routledge 1999).
I believe that the best way to reduce bullying is to strive to create a positive, non-abusive atmosphere in schools. The challenge that lies ahead is to develop and to evaluate ways of achieving this - which is why work like yours is so important.
With very best wishes,
Anti-Bullying Network has contacts all over the world, with parents, teachers, young
people, researchers and developers. Here, a parent of a bullied child, a primary school
pupil, a secondary school pupil and a teacher write about networking in real terms - how
information that we have provided, initiatives we have suggested or people we have put
them in touch with have helped them to combat bullying or share their ideas.
A Secondary School Pupil's View
Hermitage Academy's own Peer Support scheme has benefited vastly from recent networking, which has led to subsequent use of anti-bullying initiatives, an increase in knowledge and new ideas supplied to its weekly meeting sessions. Friends Against Bullying (FAB) has operated in the school since 1994 and it continually strives to succeed in its goals of reducing bullying through a 'no-blame' approach.
All members, be they sixth-year pupils or staff members, feel that any new approaches that can be used to build on the existing policies can only be beneficial.
FAB has used several of the Anti-Bullying Network's specific
suggestions: 'drop-in clubs' where younger pupils can express concerns and talk in
confidence to older pupils; the routine patrolling of problematic areas of the school and
the implementation of 'bully boxes'. All FAB members have also been involved in
discussions about such topics as homophobic bullying and many others found through the
Network's conferences, newsletters and links to web sites.
A Primary School Pupil's View
At the Inverness Conference we told people how we use the Anti-Bullying Network to spread our school's ideas.
Our behaviour policy plays an important part in the school's Anti-Bullying strategies, letting pupils know where they're going right and wrong. Pupils get rewarded for good behaviour but pupils who have difficulty behaving are supported through steps to better behaviour. From this approach to behaviour the Pupil Council was formed giving pupils a voice. Then 'Peer Mediation' was developed. Through this pupils are helped by older pupils to solve their problems.
'Buddies' is an important project. In our internal network
the 'primary ones' choose a 'primary seven'. The 'primary seven' looks after their buddy,
helping them gain responsibility and trust. The 'primary ones' gain confidence and
friendship skills. I enjoy being part of the network both in and outwith the school,
sharing ideas and telling others about our good work.
A Teacher's View
Craigentinny, like many Scottish schools, prides itself on its positive ethos and has over the last few years developed many strategies to make the school a safe and happy place for our children, including an anti-bullying policy.
As a result of an initial contact with the Anti-Bullying Network, we were asked to pilot a programme called PeaceBuilders. This programme brings together all the strategies already in place within the school to promote positive behaviour and anti-bullying into a single framework and develops a common language and a consistency of approach throughout the school. Through this programme, our network is now world-wide. Our children are establishing email links with other schools in the USA and Australia who are also developing the PeaceBuilders programme.
Our Primary 6 Peace Coaches, known as Craigie Crew, were
asked to evaluate their role in the playground and unanimously agreed that there was 'less
fighting among the wee ones, less people on their own and more friendly children'. And the
one thing which they were having trouble with? 'How do we keep the wee ones out of the
A Parent's View
The Anti-Bullying Network helps me to contact other parents whose children have been bullied. I managed to find help for my son when he was severely bullied but where was the help for me?
Families Against Bullying has been formed by a group of parents in Perth. Our aim is to promote a better awareness of bullying both in school and outside, to support other parents and to try to find a solution to this growing problem. We are backed by Perth and Kinross Council through its Education and Childcare Services. We meet on a regular basis to offer each other support and we hold meetings with various agencies in order to find the best way forward for individual cases. We promote the services of the Anti-Bullying Network and work closely with the Parent Liaison Team and the Youth Enquiry Service.
If you want to find out more about our group, or just want to
speak to people who understand the damage that bullying can do to families, please get in