Stopping Bullying Step 2: Gathering Data

Michele Borba February 16, 2010 Comments Off on Stopping Bullying Step 2: Gathering Data

Part 2: How to Stop Bullying Using Proven Strategies.

Let’s put an end to peer cruelty now!  Here’s how….


Bullying Increasing In Industrialized Nations

Bullying among our youth is a significant problem–and it is steadily increasing. We also know that bullying is increasing in every industrialized nation: Japan, Canada, Australia, England, Finland…the list goes on. Not a day goes by when I’m not contacted by a school, organization, country or parent asking for help. Need proof? Here is just a smattering of troubling statistics that show all is not well with our youth. (Statistics will vary).

  • 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. National Education Association.
  • 85% of girls and 76% of boys have been sexually harassed in some form and only 18% of those incidents were perpetrated by an adult American Association of University Women
  • Young bullies carry a one-in-four chance of having a criminal record by age 30. Study by Leonard Eron and Rowell Huesman.
  • American schools harbor approximately 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million of their victims. Dan Olweus, National School Safety Center.
  • 1 in 7  students is either a bully or victim.
  • 56% of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school.
  • 15% of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied at school.
  • 71% of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school.
  • One in 20 students has seen a student with a gun at school.
  • In Canadian surveys of 4, 743 children in grades 1 to 8, six percent of children admitted bullying others “more than once or twice” in the past six weeks.
  • One out of six child is bullied in Australian schools. Ken Rigby.

Bullying Is A Learned Behavior and Can Be Unlearned

Despite the dismal statistics, keep one key point must be remembered: “Bullying is learned and can be unlearned.” The best hope to stopping this troubling epidemic is to review sound, proven advice and to change the school culture. No more quick fixes! I’ve worked in hundreds of schools and with thousands of teachers. I’ve witnessed and recorded schools who significantly reduce bullying and turn cruelty into compassion. I’m posting a series of blogs on proven methods. The first step is for all stakeholders — parents, teachers, students, custodians, secretaries, bus drivers, counselors, principals, coaches, and community members — to understand what bullying is so they can recognize it. Your next step is to realize that bullying is a widespread problem that will not go away with a one-time assembly, a poster on a wall, or hiring a one-time speaker.

Dan Olweus, a school psychologist from Norway, took on bullying after several middle school children committed suicide because of repeated peer harassment. Over 620 Norwegian schools successfully reduced bullying by over 50 percent in three years. If you are serious about reducing peer cruelty (and oh how I hope you are!) here is the second step:

Successful Bully Reducing Programs Must Be Data-Driven and Evidence-Based

Do you know where bullying is most likely to happen in your school? Do you know how frequently bullying happens and at what time? Do you know which students are most likely to be the bullies or the victims? Do you know which students are most likely to step in as bystanders and help a victim?

Without that specific data how will you prescribe how to remedy or eradicate bullying behavior? And how will you measure your gains?

In order to stop bullying you must collect data from your students and your staff. That data is what will guide you in how you to reduce this behavior. Here are seven points to get you started in your data gathering efforts.

  • Obtain a School Bully Survey. Don’t reinvent the wheel – there are dozens of bully surveys available online or for purchase. I’ve provided a sample at the end of this blog. The survey should be appropriate to the age and needs of the students and ask the kinds of questions you’ll need to stop this behavior. Every student must have the opportunity to complete a survey. Do you need to translate yours into braille, a foreign language, or even pictures? Every student must be able to fill out that report.
  • Inservice Staff. Make sure you inservice your staff as to how to explain the survey to their students. The key is to make sure that each student hears the exact same directions and the exact same definition of bullying. Many schools use the the same teachers to go to each room to administer the survey.
  • Allow Student Anonymity. You must allow students to fill out the survey anonymously. Keep in mind that many students feel threatened by bullies and if they think that a bully is watching them complete a survey (and thinks the student may report them) you will not get accurate results. To help students feel safer tell them to use pencil only and printed responses so all surveys look the same, to leave their names off the survey, and to always put a plain piece of paper over their survey as they give their responses to protect confidentiality. Hint: It is helpful to use a color code system. For instance, surveys given to all seventh graders can be printed on yellow paper; all sixth graders can be given surveys printed on pink colored paper. You can then assess particular responses via grade level or hallway or area.
  • Make Surveys Age and Cultural Appropriate. All students should have the opportunity to fill out a survey or report their safety concerns. Nonreading students can identity “Bully Hot Spots” (or places they don’t feel safe) such as  playground, cafeteria, restrooms, etc. on a school map and mark “unsafe” places. Be sensitive to the needs of your special education or bilingual students. Meet their needs! They are often the students who are prime targets for bullies.
  • Survey Bully Frequency and Locations. A high school math teacher had his students create online surveys where students could anonymously report where and when bullying or harassment is most likely to happens on and off school locations. Math students then graphed those results.
  • Grid Out a Map of the Cafeteria. Tweens and teens name a cafeteria as the place where they are most likely to be excluded or harassed. Provide a map of the cafeteria and identify where they sit and who sits around them. You’ll instantly identify excluded students. Ask students to write the names of students and where they are most likely to sit. And then note the places students are most likely to be bullied. (You can do the same for a playground, school bus, lockers, hallways, etc — all prime areas for bullying).

Collect all surveys and start analyzing those results carefully. Your staff is looking for a pattern. Is there a place where bullying happens most frequently (for instance the bathrooms). Is there a time of day where bullying is most likely to occur? Are there certain students who are repeatedly mentioned by as victims or bullies? Look for that data. Compile the results in graph form and then distribute it to your staff.

Start having those courageous conversations in which you discuss your school bullying problem and what you can do to go about reducing it. Proactive conversations always start with evidence.

The next step: what to do with that evidence so you start actually reducing the bullying. The best way to reduce bullying is step by step.

Sample Questions In a School Bullying Survey

The following survey is only meant as a sample and was created by a school based on the questions the staff wanted to know.

  1. Have you ever been a victim at this school of someone bullying you?
  2. Is bullying a problem at this school?
  3. Do you feel safe going to this school?
  4. Have you ever not wanted to go to school because you were bullied?
  5. If bullying could be stopped at your school, would you like school better?
  6. Should the victim walk away from a bully to keep peace?
  7. If you’ve been a victim, did you tell your teacher?
  8. If you told your teacher did he or she help you?
  9. If you’ve been a victim, did you tell your parents?
  10. Is bullying a problem on the playground?
  11. Is bullying a problem on the school bus?
  12. Is bullying a problem in the cafeteria?
  13. Is bullying a problem in the halls?
  14. Is bullying a problem in the classroom?
  15. Is bullying a problem in the bathrooms?
  16. Write the number of times you’ve been bullied this week at school:
  17. If bullying is a problem what place is it happening most of the time:
  18. If bullying is a problem, what time or times does it happen:
  19. What could be done to make this school feel safer for you?
  20. Is there anything else you’d like to say about bullying?
  21. Who are students you consider to be bullies at this school?
  22. Who are students who are repeatedly bullied at this school?

Past Blogs in This Bullying Series:

• Proven Ways to Stop Bullying Series: Step 1 How to Recognize Bullying and Show Case Examples from Schools Who Have

The Big Book of Parenting SolutionsI’ll continue to share ideas in this blog, Michele Borba on bullying behaviors and ways to reduce it or follow me on twitter @micheleborba. Portions of this blog were from my book, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries. The chapters on Bullying and Bullied are critical to review. My goal in writing this book was to help parents recognize the early stages of bullying and stop it or know what to do to turn this troubling behavior around if it has become a habit. The most up-to-date strategies and research are provided, along with signs, responses, and resources. Follow me on twitter @MicheleBorba and join the conversation.

Bullying is escalating. Bullying is also starting up at younger ages. And bullying should NEVER be tolerated. This is cold-blooded intentional cruelty. This can be prevented. This can be reduced. But let’s go about doing this based on what evidence says will make a difference.