Most anti-bullying programs teach prevention. The problem is prevention doesn’t help someone who is currently being bullied. It only helps them prevent it from starting.
Kids who are being bullied need a different curriculum. They need to know, not how to prevent it, but how to get it to stop. Unless we teach kids how to get bullies to stop, bullying will continue.
This is why I teach bullying elimination using operant conditioning. And yes, it really does work. It’s pretty much the only thing that does. Don’t get me wrong, prevention education is important too. And it turns out that when you teach kids how to stop bullying, you are also teaching them how to prevent it.
I wouldn’t make a fuss about this except that prevention training clearly doesn’t work. It’s not that the information is bad, it’s more that it’s incomplete. The main reason I think others only teach prevention is because they don’t really understand how the techniques they are teaching really work and more importantly, what happens when you do them.
Teaching prevention is easy. Teaching elimination is more difficult because it’s harder to do. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tell the kids what they need to know to be successful. Kids really need these skills!!!
Prevention teaches kids how to stop rewarding the behavior they don’t want. And that’s important. But, that’s just the first step. They also encourage kids to report what is happening. And this is also great. With these two techniques you stop rewarding the behavior and you increase the cost of the behavior. The combination of these should stop the unwanted behavior. Right? Well, yeah … but … in reality it doesn’t. And the reason it doesn’t is because there is more to the extinction process than just eliminating the rewards and increasing costs. Again, it’s good information, but incomplete.
Eliminating the reward and increasing the costs is just how you start or trigger the behavioral extinction process. Once you trigger the process – you know have to wait for the bully’s behavior to blow out as they get more aggressive and try to get their reward back and try to convince you to stop reporting them so they can get rid of the costs. Only after this blow out occurs, will the behavior stop. Not telling kids and adults about the blow out means they are taken surprise by it and they think what they are doing isn’t working, even though it is.
The reason I teach how to use operant conditioning to stop bullying instead of teaching bullying prevention is because I understand, the real problem isn’t prevention. The real problem is bullying. In an ideal world, no kid would ever be bullied. But we don’t live in an ideal world, we live in the real world and in the real world, kids need to be taught how to get it to stop. Prevention education doesn’t do victims of bullying any good.
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