Peaceful Schools Project tackles bullying, “child abuse” by peers


About.com
Schools ignore the problem of classroom bullies at their peril, say Menninger Clinic researchers.

Bullying is a pervasive behavior problem with profound and long-range consequences that can influence and shape the lives of young children. Bullies have been linked with school shootings and child and adolescent suicides.

Interrupting the tendencies of bullies and their victims is important and possible, said Stuart Twemlow, MD, a Menninger psychiatrist and an international authority on community and school violence.

“Bullying is nothing but child abuse by peers,” said Menninger Child & Family Center Director Peter Fonagy, PhD, an internationally recognized authority in infant and child development.

“In a typical Midwest school, 88 percent of the children are likely to observe bullying, and 77 percent are likely to be victims of it at one time or another. Bullying leads to violent crime. Sixty percent of playground bullies will have a criminal conviction by age 24, and 90 percent of young offenders were themselves found to be victims of bullying.’’

“In more than two thirds of school shootings,” Drs. Twemlow and Fonagy wrote in a published paper on threat assessments, “there was clear and obvious bullying by social groups and individuals. The larger social and environmental issues involved in school shootings include factors such as easy access to violent and hate-laden media, weaponry and information on strategies for terrorist attacks. Less frequently noted is the school’s response to fixed patterns of teasing, ostracism and bullying among various groups in the school. A school climate that tolerates physical and relational aggression, especially by popular groups such as athletes or economic elites, is at high risk for violence.”

… From a three-year, ongoing study known as the Peaceful Schools Project, Menninger researchers have devised an integrated set of low-cost school violence prevention techniques developed under the rigorous scrutiny of scientific evaluation. Since so few programs develop their interventions relying on evidence based on randomized, controlled studies, the ongoing Peaceful Schools Project is believed to be the most ambitious privately-funded study of its kind. Full story.

Related link:
Addressing, blocking and curbing aggression in schools

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