Although interest in deterring bullying has soared since the 1999 Columbine school shootings, prevention programs can do a better job of applying research in the area, said Susan P. Limber, PhD, in her acceptance of the 2004 Early Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest at APA's Annual Convention.
Limber, an associate psychology professor at Clemson University, said that common misdirections include zero-tolerance policies, group treatment, peer mediation and too-simple solutions, such as a single school assembly. She instead endorses a sustained, comprehensive effort to change school norms, such as the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, which includes a prevention coordinating committee, regular classroom meetings on bullying, and on-the-spot interventions and incident follow-up.
"In an era of high-stakes testing, in particular, this is asking admittedly a lot of our school personnel," she said, noting that teachers and administrators need the support of parents, policy-makers and community members to implement effective programs.
--D. SMITH BAILEY