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
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
1 Enlisting the school principal's commitment and involvement Police officers convince the principal of the importance of tackling bullying "officers are aware of best practices Officers 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
2 Using a multifaceted, comprehensive approach Once baseline surveys are completed, the school adopts a comprehensive series of strategies to address the specific survey findings "the principal assigns a high- level project (or team) manager to ensure the full implementation and progress of the strategies Sometimes it is difficult to isolate the effectiveness of individual interventions
Specific Responses To Reduce Bullying in Schools
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
3 Using the "whole- school" approach Baseline 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
4 Increasing student reporting of bullying Increases bullies' risk of getting caught "students are convinced that reporting is appropriate behavior Some 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
5 Developing activities in less- supervised areas Increases the effort bullies must make by decreasing their opportunity to bully "the activities interest bullies and are designed to limit their ability to victimize others Requires staff or volunteers (students, parents, seniors) and age-appropriate programming
6 Reducing the amount of time students can spend less supervised Increases the risk that bullying will be exposed and reduces the amount of time for it to occur "supervisors are trained to spot and respond to bullying Requires scheduling changes
7 Staggering recess, lunch and/or class- release times Ensures fewer bullies and victims are together at the same time, increasing supervisors' ability to spot bullying "bullies and victims are not in the same classes or, if they are, supervisors are well trained to spot and respond to bullying If some bullies are in the same classes with their victims, other remedies are also needed
8 Monitoring areas where bullying can be expected (e.g., bathrooms) Increases bullies' risk of getting caught "it is done frequently enough to make the risk real May require increased staffing or trained volunteers
9 Assigning bullies to a particular location or to particular chores during release times Increases the effort bullies must make to bully because this separates bullies from victims "careful consideration is given to which of the two approaches is more appropriate for each particular bully Isolating bullies may further anger them and cause additional problems for their victims
10 Posting classroom signs prohibiting bullying and listing the consequences for it Removes the excuse of ignorance and underscores the risks "signs are posted in all classrooms Signs and consequences should be age appropriate
11 Providing teachers with effective classroom management training Increases bullies' risk of getting caught in classrooms, and decreases victims' risk of harm "teachers are committed to stopping classroom bullying, and those teaching higher-risk classes are given additional specialized training Identifying 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
12 Having high-level school administrators inform late- enrolling students about the school's bullying policy Decreases late- enrolling students' risk of bullying or being bullied "done at the time of enrollment and by someone perceived as having a high level of authority Schools may consider having late-enrolling students sign "bully free agreements" acknowledging the rules and the consequences for violations
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
13 Training students in conflict resolution and peer mediation Allows students to play the key role in resolving bullying problems "conflicts are between students of relatively equal status, and not between bullies and weaker victims May be more appropriate for problems other than bullying (e.g., conflicts between peers of equal power or status)
14 Adopting a "zero tolerance" policy Guarantees that bullies who get caught will be penalized on the first offense "used as a last resort, after other responses have failed Bullying is too widespread, longstanding and complex for it to stop simply due to such a policy
15 Providing group therapy for bullies Intended to build self-esteem of bullies "bullies suggest that they have low self-esteem and it is the cause of their bullying Most bullies do not have low-esteem
16 Encouraging victims to simply "stand up" to bullies Directly pits victim against bully "accompanied by adequate support or adult involvement May be harmful or physically dangerous