Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Using curriculum to stop bullying
Jennifer E. Beebe PhD, says the key to stop bullying is to include anti-bullying education as part of the regular school curriculum. Beebe conducts research in the areas of bullying and cyber-bullying.
"It's just as important to teach empathy to students as it is to teach them science," says Beebe, assistant professor of counseling and human services at Canisius College. "We can increase consciousness of positive behaviors by incorporating those ideals into the educational system. Many students may not learn them otherwise."
Beebe completed a study which involved disrespect, bullying behaviors and physical aggression with 300 elementary and middle school students in three schools in Illinois. The behaviors were negatively impacting students' academic achievement and school attendance. In many cases, these behaviors crossed over into the cyber world. Beebe's research was sponsored by a grant from The Canisius College School of Education and Human Services.
Students learned several tenets from martial arts during a 12-week long mentoring program which was integrated into students' regular classroom lessons for approximately one hour. "Students were taught such concepts as loyalty, obedience and respect." Beebe adds.
The program was run by individuals from the COREMatters Project. The COREMatters Project is a multi-dimensional classroom experience focusing on social emotional learning, empathy and respect building instruction utilizing cooperative learning activities, role playing, classroom discussions, individual work, as well as physical activities.
Upon completion of the year-long study (2011-2012), which included pre- and post-testing, "We found a significant decrease in teasing and bullying behaviors among the students," says Beebe. "This is very encouraging sign. Because of these positive results, plans are underway to implement this curriculum at other schools."
Teachers, administrators and school counselors, who were also interviewed for the study, reported an improvement in six key areas: respect, pro-social communication, pro-social behaviors, awareness and understanding of bullying, school climate and self-esteem/motivation/confidence.
Beebe cites previous studies when she adds that the impact of bullying can affect the physical, mental and academic well-being of an individual, resulting in high levels of anxiety, low self-esteem, and more frequent thoughts of suicide.