Scott: October is Bullying Prevention Month, so many schools ramp up their anti-bullying efforts with programs and events. But what happens when some of those efforts seem to have the opposite effect than what was intended?
Schools across the country have adopted strict rules when it comes to bullying. And as a tool to help students identify what bullying looks like, the use of videos like this one has become popular. But are they working?
Alexis Tatore: When we’re showing bullying videos it’s just kids laughing and someone being like, ‘Ha-ha, you’re fat!’
Noah Freeman: People look at what happens in the videos and say, ‘Oh, well, I’m not that extreme. I must not be bullying them. I’m just teasing them.’
Scott: What started as a simple look at the trends in bullying cases revealed something that experts weren’t expecting.
Seokjin Jeong: Very disappointing and very surprising. How come? Which is our anti-bullying program, either intervention or prevention, does not work.
Scott: UTA Criminologist Seokjin Jeong analyzed data collected from 7,000 students from all fifty states. He thought the results would be predictable, that anti-bullying programs would help prevent bullying. Instead he found quite the opposite.
The study found students at schools with anti-bullying programs may actually be more likely to become victims of bullying while students at schools without similar programs were less likely to become victims.
The videos used in many campaigns show examples of bullying and suggest ways to intervene. But Jeong fears the videos may actually teach students different bullying techniques, even indirectly teach students how to bully without leaving evidence behind.
Jeong: They are able to learn, ‘Okay, there are new techniques. There are new skills. Yeah, I want to try it. I want to try to find another victim. A more vulnerable victim.’
Scott: And he says until the message delivered by anti-bullying programs improves, some programs may be doing more harm than good.
So what should be done about bullying?
Student: They should probably educate kids more on what is and what isn’t bullying.
Student: If you can stop bullies, great. But teach people that it’s okay to stand up for themselves.
Scott: And now it is your turn to weigh in. Are those anti-bullying videos a good idea or a bad idea? Head to Channelone.com and tell us what you think. And you never know, you might just see your comment in tomorrow’s show.