There are scores of different anti-bully programs being run in schools throughout America and hundreds more competing for a share of the market. Which ones have the winning track record of proven results?
There certainly are lots to choose from. Some states pass laws mandating a comprehensive framework of special training for teachers and administrators that dovetails with student awareness programs, detailed reporting procedures, and ‘solution’ schedules that range from mediation to suspension.
Other schools outsource their anti-bully programs to ‘experts’. Again, there's an incredible array of options. The ranks include psychiatrists and psychologists, PhD’s, lawyers, martial artists, clergy members, former victims, activists for peace & love, extreme BMX stunt performers and even rodeo clowns. There are individuals who’ll do a one day assembly, and organizations that specialize in comprehensive, multi-year, district wide contracts.
How do all of these stack up against each other?
First, let’s take a look at the public school system. The embarrassing reality is that American students rank far below their peers in other developed countries – in benchmark areas such as science and mathematics, US children are in the bottom third. Our nosedive to the bottom is accelerating, too. Government employed teachers seem unable to impart the basics. What possible hope is there that they can be trusted to successfully execute a complex, social design experiment?
Next, consider private schools. Along with a better reputation for academic achievement, there’s an air of prestige, and a considerable tuition obligation. Such institutions are understandably reluctant to admit there’s a bullying problem, as that would damage their perceived status. And if there’ s no problem, there’s no need to fix it.
Lastly, we can take a look at the independent gurus. For the most part, they're undoubtedly good men and women with noble intentions. And they're running businesses (it's a very lucrative market). Naturally, their curriculum are designed to appeal to committees, boards and administrators (who have the money) instead of the children (who have the problems). Marketing is the foremost concern- effectiveness runs a distant second.
As a result, the programs being installed have nothing to do with empirically effective methods , and everything to do with ‘feeling good’ and cashing in. Yes, free market capitalism is a wonderful thing, and making a profit on your products or services is a wonderful thing. When you're providing something of value .
Years of research and mountains of evidence demonstrate that school-based anti-bullying programs have one thing in common: a dismal and disapointing record. Continuing to promote them is unscrupulous.