September 19, 2016
By Olivia Reese
Anti-bullying campaigns led by teachers and administrators have rolled out in schools, but those efforts aren't enough sometimes and bullying incidents tend to get unnoticed. A research found that students are more successful than adults in preventing bullying among their peers.
Researchers from Princeton, Rutgers, and Yale universities looked for middle school pupils who are capable of changing their peers' mindset about bullying, Education Week reports. The research team surveyed over 24,000 students from 56 middle schools during the 2012-13 school year.
They asked these students which of their peers at school are the most influential online and at school. These influential or so-called "seed" students were then invited to the Roots program, an anti-bullying initiative.
Through 10 sessions, the researchers found from seed students that pupils don't use the term 'bullying' but call conflict between themselves as 'drama.' During these sessions, the seed students discussed how they would react when they see or hear about conflicts among their fellow pupils.
The seed students talked about how their peers would respond to their reactions and how they can positively influence them. The seed students created their own projects about how to deter bullying at school.
Those projects include making Instagram posts that display positive messages or rewarding little trinkets to a student who stopped a fight from getting worse or those who supported a victim of bullying. Basically, the seed students were turned into mini politicians who are capable of changing social norms at school, according to Elizabeth L. Paluck, a Princeton psychology professor and one of the study's researchers.
This strategy worked. By the end of the 2012-13 school year, bullying or harassment incidents dropped to 2,012 from 2,695. Schools that participated in the Roots program had a .02 times conflict per student, as opposed to .06 times per student for schools that didn't partake.
In Cabot, Arkansas, pupils also believe that a student-to-student approach is a better form of an anti-bullying campaign. Student forensic captains at Cabot High School made a video that pupils can relate to and help them understand how important it is to stand up against bullying, Arkansas Online reports.
An anti-bullying app, meanwhile, was developed by 16-year-old Natalie Hampton from Sherman Oaks, California. The app called Sit With Us matches students with someone to sit with at lunch. Hampton was bullied in middle school and she wants to spare other students from the embarrassment and verbal taunts that stem from eating alone at school.
Bullied children have increased risks of depression, low self-esteem, poor school performance, and suicide. Bullying is most rampant in middle school, with verbal and social discrimination as its most common types, according to StopBullying.gov.
What does your school do in regard to bullying prevention?