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Are Anti-Bullying Programs Having An Opposite Effect?

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A lot of schools spend countless hours trying to stop bullying. But some question if they are sending the right message.

It started as a simple look at bullying. University of Texas at Arlington criminologist Seokjin Jeong analyzed data collected from 7,000 students from all 50 states.

He thought the results would be predictable and would show that anti-bullying programs curb bullying. Instead — he found the opposite.

Jeong said it was, “A very disappointing and a very surprising thing. Our anti-bullying programs, either intervention or prevention does not work.”

The study concluded that students at schools with anti-bullying programs might actually be more likely to become a victim of bullying. It also found that students at schools with no bullying programs were less likely to become victims.

The results were stunning for Jeong. “Usually people expect an anti-bullying program to have some impact — some positive impact.”

The student videos used in many campaigns show examples of bullying and how to intervene. But Jeong says they may actually teach students different bullying techniques — and even educate about new ways to bully through social media and texting.

Jeong said students with ill intentions “…are able to learn, there are new techniques [and gain] new skills.” He says students might see examples in videos and then want to try it.

According to Jeong, some programs even teach students how to bully without leaving evidence behind. “This study raises an alarm,” he said. “There is a possibility of negative impact from anti-bullying programs.”

Jeong and others like him believe that until the message delivered by anti-bullying programs improves — some programs may be doing more harm than good.

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