Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses

The table below summarizes the responses to bullying in schools, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

General Requirements for an Effective Strategy To Counter Bullying in Schools
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
1Enlisting the school principal's commitment and involvementPolice officers convince the principal of the importance of tackling bullyingofficers are aware of best practicesOfficers may need to engage others, such as parents, to help influence the principal; unfortunately, in some cases, only a crisis will galvanize the principal's attention
2Using a multifaceted, comprehensive approachOnce baseline surveys are completed, the school adopts a comprehensive series of strategies to address the specific survey findingsthe principal assigns a high- level project (or team) manager to ensure the full implementation and progress of the strategiesSometimes it is difficult to isolate the effectiveness of individual interventions
Specific Responses To Reduce Bullying in Schools
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
3Using the "whole- school" approachBaseline data reveal the details of the problem; interventions are implemented at the school, class and individual level

school administrators are fully committed to addressing the problem, and are knowledgeable of the components of the approach

For examples of policies for the school, class, students, and parents, see Glover and Cartwright, with Gleeson (1998).

Availability and use of local resources, such as university researchers, to assist in survey development and testing, or alternatively, use of Olweus' survey; parental permission may be needed to survey students; community's and school's commitment to uncovering the full details of the problem
4Increasing student reporting of bullyingIncreases bullies' risk of getting caughtstudents are convinced that reporting is appropriate behaviorSome schools establish a hot line, while others install a bully box where students can leave notes alerting school personnel to bullying; non-anonymous reporting should be encouraged to lessen student fear of reprisal
5Developing activities in less- supervised areasIncreases the effort bullies must make by decreasing their opportunity to bullythe activities interest bullies and are designed to limit their ability to victimize othersRequires staff or volunteers (students, parents, seniors) and age-appropriate programming
6Reducing the amount of time students can spend less supervisedIncreases the risk that bullying will be exposed and reduces the amount of time for it to occursupervisors are trained to spot and respond to bullyingRequires scheduling changes
7Staggering recess, lunch and/or class- release timesEnsures fewer bullies and victims are together at the same time, increasing supervisors' ability to spot bullyingbullies and victims are not in the same classes or, if they are, supervisors are well trained to spot and respond to bullyingIf some bullies are in the same classes with their victims, other remedies are also needed
8Monitoring areas where bullying can be expected (e.g., bathrooms)Increases bullies' risk of getting caughtit is done frequently enough to make the risk realMay require increased staffing or trained volunteers
9Assigning bullies to a particular location or to particular chores during release timesIncreases the effort bullies must make to bully because this separates bullies from victimscareful consideration is given to which of the two approaches is more appropriate for each particular bullyIsolating bullies may further anger them and cause additional problems for their victims
10Posting classroom signs prohibiting bullying and listing the consequences for itRemoves the excuse of ignorance and underscores the riskssigns are posted in all classroomsSigns and consequences should be age appropriate
11Providing teachers with effective classroom management trainingIncreases bullies' risk of getting caught in classrooms, and decreases victims' risk of harmteachers are committed to stopping classroom bullying, and those teaching higher-risk classes are given additional specialized trainingIdentifying those teachers who need extra assistance must be handled delicately, although it should be noted that most U.S. teachers receive no instruction on classroom management techniques, so it is not surprising that some have fewer skills in these
12Having high-level school administrators inform late- enrolling students about the school's bullying policyDecreases late- enrolling students' risk of bullying or being bullieddone at the time of enrollment and by someone perceived as having a high level of authoritySchools may consider having late-enrolling students sign "bully free agreements" acknowledging the rules and the consequences for violations
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
13Training students in conflict resolution and peer mediationAllows students to play the key role in resolving bullying problemsconflicts are between students of relatively equal status, and not between bullies and weaker victimsMay be more appropriate for problems other than bullying (e.g., conflicts between peers of equal power or status)
14Adopting a "zero tolerance" policyGuarantees that bullies who get caught will be penalized on the first offenseused as a last resort, after other responses have failedBullying is too widespread, longstanding and complex for it to stop simply due to such a policy
15Providing group therapy for bulliesIntended to build self-esteem of bulliesbullies suggest that they have low self-esteem and it is the cause of their bullyingMost bullies do not have low-esteem
16Encouraging victims to simply "stand up" to bulliesDirectly pits victim against bullyaccompanied by adequate support or adult involvementMay be harmful or physically dangerous