The world’s most popular anti-bullying program is the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, and most other programs are generic versions of the Olweus program. Anti-bullying activists have lobbied for laws that require schools to adopt anti-bullying programs that follow the Olweus model. This model treats schools like correctional in which no negative behavior will be tolerated. All members of the school staff are required to diligently monitor every inch of school grounds at all times to prevent any students from doing anything that can upset another child, and to treat alleged bullies like criminals–investigating, interrogating, judging and punishing them. Students are required to inform the authorities on each other whenever a rule is violated. This is an extremely labor-intensive approach that takes a great deal of time away from academic activities. Most importantly, the research shows that this approach rarely produces a reduction in bullying and often causes an increase in hostilities. It may make the victim and their parents happy in the short run when the school punishes their bullies. But they are rarely happy in the long run because the problem usually does not get solved and often gets worse. The parents of the alleged bullies usually get involved taking their own children’s side, so the bullying incidents evolve into intense feuds between families. Also, in their eagerness to have bullies punished, parents don’t realize that their own children are as likely to be determined by the school to be bullies as victims. Furthermore, the Olweus-inspired programs weaken children emotionally by teaching them that they need to rely on others to solve their problems rather than themselves.
At Bullies to Buddies, we believe schools should be educational institutions rather than correctional facilities. We believe the job of school is not to protect children from the hardships of life but to teach them how to handle those hardships. Bullying goes on not only in school but throughout life, and kids deserve to be taught how to deal with it. The solution to bullying is not punishment but education. It is effortless to stop being bullied. Kids just need to be taught how to do it.
Trying to protect kids from aggression by waging war against bullies is equivalent to trying to protect people from West Nile Virus by spraying the country with pesticides. It is expensive, time consuming, and has many unwanted side effects. In fact, it may be causing more harm than good. If there were a vaccination or antidote for West Nile Virus, no one would even dream of spraying as a solution.