Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Olweus Anti-bullying program

I have been looking into the Olweus anti-bullying program. The information could be outdated.

T:   'Olweus has developed quite a bit in the last 20 years.  Most schools are attaching and aligning this program to their school-wide climate and positive behavioral support systems including instruction of specific skills for social and emotional development and learning including intrinsic motivation.'

AK:  I have been searching the internet - see the link below - to get an understanding of the Olweus  bullying program. The education world link below shows that the program stands on 2 legs – a discipline code with rules and consequences and strategies for improving the school climate.

I appreciate that schools can't overnight move completely away from rewards and consequences , it is a process .

What's happening in schools -  According to Dr Ross Greene – there is a growing appreciation  that zero tolerance policies are failing , but schools still do not know what to do .   There is an attempt to move away from punishment – towards ' logical consequences '  and positive behavioral support systems which rely heavily on praise , rewards etc  - control by seduction.

T : Because bullying is a safety issue there HAS TO be some external regulation of these behaviors.

Olweus supports a response system of what happens after these behaviors - including building relationships, empathy, skills and understanding of those exhibiting the bullying behavior, bystanders and those who are the recipients of those behaviors. 

I would argue that rather than "in contrast" to this program you consider that this is often in partnership with identification or integration of the value of being considerate and respectful toward others.

AK : I have said that change is a process and needs to be done slowly. Because an issue is a safety issue imho I don't think there has to be external regulation – it depends on what's happening on the ground. What are the external regulations -  supervision , rules and consequences.

Supervision has to be minimal , otherwise we can get a prison atmosphere and even if it is not quite like that , if kids have the feeling that they are being watched , the presence of external control undermines integration and commitment to social values.

'Olweus supports a response system of what happens after these behaviors '

  - but how are the behaviors themselves , the incidents dealt with.

Are consequences imposed on the bully , does he HAVE to pay for the damages he has done or do we follow the CPS – collaborative problem solving path -  first engage in problem solving addressing the bully's concerns – not behavior – putting the victim's /our concerns  on the table and then find mutually satisfying solutions . After that is done and the bully and victim have a vision of the future , the bully can be invited to engage in an autonomous way in the moral act of restitution , instead of the school imposing logical consequences on him.

Many schools discipline codes  have tier / level systems. For most of the school ,traditional discipline relying on external control ' works ' for most kids. Challenging kids are dished out PBS , positive behavioral supports – plenty of praise, rewards and top down skills training.

IMHO schools should be using collaborative problem solving with all kids, also empowering the 'victims' to solve their problems -  and inviting them to engage in restitution in an autonomous way. If the school models problem solving by giving consequences , it thus creates a ' structure ' that undermines kids commitment to values of caring and responsibility.

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