After assessing their anti-bullying scores, New Jersey schools, scores ranged from 43 to perfect scores of 75, with some schools not reporting their assessments at all. Large amounts of money are being spent on the “war against bullying”, the question becomes,”is this money well spent?” Amanda Oglesby of USA Today is dubious.
In a 2013 study by researchers at the University of Texas and Michigan State University, researchers found that students who attended schools with bullying-prevention programs were more likely to have reported experiencing victimization themselves. In the study of 7,000 students ages 12 to 18 who completed a survey in the 2005-06 school year, researchers found that a higher percentage of students who attended schools with anti-bullying programs had reported experiencing bullying than students in schools without programs.
Scientists were hard-pressed to come up with an explanation of why this was happening. Perhaps the bullies were learning new bullying techniques by attending the programs’ classes. Maybe bullies are not good candidates for being open to programs like this. There is also the suggestion that students in schools that have anti-bullying programs are more aware of the problem and report it more often than students who are not part of such a program. Still, New Jersey law requires schools to have anti-bullying policies in place and now also adhere to the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights. Part of the mandates included in this bill are appointing anti-bullying coordinators and reporting all cases of bullying publicly. All teachers are for the anti-bullying stance and are vehement about protecting every child in their schools. The suggested avenues to wipe out bullying are extremely expensive.
But 41 percent of school businesses administrators surveyed were unsure if the changes brought by the state’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights were effective. More than 29 percent said the law did not appear to promote civility in their schools or discourage harassment and bullying.
On a more positive note, several schools in Virginia are making strides in assisting pre-middle school girls in making the transition into adolescence a kinder and gentler passage. Founded by Dianna Flett, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant-Colonel, Girl Smarts has been changing girls’ lives school by school, count by county in and around Stafford, Virginia. Flett, the mother of 4 boys, joined with Laura Hoover, a guidance counselor at Margaret Brent Elementary School in Stafford. In 2009, while working for the FBI, she became concerned about the number of young girls who were cutting themselves.
Although both Flett and Hoover have boys, since they were both girls earlier in their lives, they knew how adolescence for girls could be. Amy Flowers of Fredericks Community News Desk stated, ” Flett presented the Girl Smarts model at a national anti-bullying conference last summer, and will showcase the program again at this year’s National Girl Bullying and Relational Aggression Conference in Chicago.” The after school program’s emphasis on resisting peer pressure, avoiding personal attacks, using kind language, and remaining true to your character is making a difference in young girls’ lives.