I teach how to stop bullying using operant conditioning. My starting point is based in science. Bullying is an adaptive strategy. Bullies bully because it works. It’s amazing how controversial this idea is.
I keep being told, by well-meaning people who are totally frustrated by bullying, that the problem is bad parenting. Or that the parent of the kid who is bullying is lower class and they just don’t have good examples. This is BS.
According to the University of Warwick, “policy to reduce bullying in the schoolyard needs to span all levels of society, say researchers, who warn that socioeconomic status is not a reliable indicator of whether a child is likely to become a bully.” “bullying is a significant public health concern, which can cause long lasting health and social problems.” And “(See: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140429125737.htm)
Here’s what you need to know, according to Professor Wolke, who was involved in the study, “Bullying is about gaining access to resources and can be used to achieve elevated status within social groups. They are often the ring leaders that are not always detected by teachers.”
Until we start addressing the very real rewards gained by bullies, we are going to continue to fail to address is effectively. Plus – writing off a bully as being a product of bad parenting or lower income parents is really just a way to shift blame, throw our hands up in the air and say – there isn’t anything we can do about it.
That is defeatist and untrue. We can do something about bullying, if we want to and are willing to take responsibility to make it happen.