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Deterring Bullying: A School-Wide Approach, Claudio Cerullo, Ph.D. «

Deterring Bullying: A School-Wide Approach, Claudio Cerullo, Ph.D.

Once considered just another child’s rite of passage, bullying has now recently come under closer scrutiny. As increasing amounts of research emerge about bullying’s effects on our children, some of which can be devastating, adults are now paying more attention to the problem. However, too often, when parents
and teachers hear about bullying, they expect children to work it out on their own. “Telling the child to solve the problem by himself, or herself does not address how powerless he or she really is,” says Dr. Claudio Cerullo, Anti-Bullying Expert from the State of Pennsylvania. “By the time the child who’s been targeted is distressed or courageous enough to tell a teacher or mom or dad the child doing the bullying has achieved immense power”

“The problem of bullying is in all schools,” says Henry Quinlan of Omni-Production. “If schools don’t
acknowledge it, they inadvertently support it. If schools don’t address the problem, we know it’ll get worse. It’s like an infection—if you don’t take steps early to stop it, it’ll grow.”

The Importance of Anti-Bullying Training:

To ensure that parent, school staff, and teachers have the information they
need to take consistent and appropriate action when responding to bullying.
Professionals need to learn how to respond appropriately to show students that
they care and to build trusting relationships,” says Dr. Cerullo. “The lessons teach all children to report bullying—professionals need to learn to listen and coach children on how to deal with it. Children know their
problems will be taken seriously when their teachers and parents take
action.”

The Bullying Curriculum Component:

“A lot of children try out bullying beginning in third or fourth grade,” says Cerullo. “Although recent Data shows that there’s an increase in the prevalence of bullying in these grades, and as early as Pre K. As soon as children become aware of their position and status in the social group, they begin to gain more and more power.

The Bullying Bystander Power

The vast majority of bullying occurs in the presence of other children. This dynamic creates ample opportunities for students to apply their collective power as bystanders. “We have to make it easy for children to intervene. We need to give them pro social skills that are easy to learn, that will not decrease their status in the peer group.

“There’s tremendous potential in using bystanders to ‘assist’ in solving the bullying problem. Half the time when
children intervene in a bullying episode, it stops roughly before the count 10. The average episode may lasts around 35 seconds. The more bystanders watch and don’t intervene, the longer the bullying occurs, thus creating more fuel for the bully.

Changing Our School Culture and Mind Set:

“Denial is a powerful thing in today’s society, and grown-ups do not like to think that there’s bullying or harassment going on at a private or Catholic school. Starting off with surveys was a powerful tool. Dr. Cerullo says creating a pilot survey to assess student and teacher perceptions about bullying will help raise awareness to make formal decisions. Students in most of the schools we surveyed reported a much higher incidence of bullying than their teachers or school administration reported. “When we showed those figures to parents, they were shocked. No program will be an effective antidote to bullying unless it involves an entire school community. “The challenge in implementing a program is in changing people’s behaviors,” says Cerullo. “Attitude change must come first, behavioral change second. For behavior change, the entire school community must to support it.” This community must encompass our teachers, parents, administrations, faith-based, and law enforcement officers. It will NOT work without this total support of this network.

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