Programs meant to deter bullies and empower kids to speak out against bullying may actually have a negative impact on the big picture of bullying in schools, a new study by researchers at the University of Texas in Arlington has found. Anti-bullying programs are especially common in October, which is National Bullying Prevention Month. More from The Huffington Post:
Released in September by the University of Texas in Arlington, the study found that unintended consequences may result from campaigns designed to educate students about the harms of physical and emotional harassment. According to researchers' findings, bullying prevention programs in schools generally increase incidences of physical and emotional attacks among students by teaching kids about the ins and outs of bulling.
The study's findings challenge commonly held beliefs about the benefits of bullying prevention programs.
"The schools with interventions say, 'You shouldn't do this,' or 'you shouldn't do that.' But through the programs, the students become highly exposed to what a bully is and they know what to do or say when questioned by parents or teachers," lead study author Dr. Seokjin Jeong said in a statement released by the university.
Using data from an earlier national study that looked at the well-being of adolescents, researchers found that students in schools with anti-bullying programs are more likely to be victimized. Specifically, they found that male students were more likely to be victims of physical harassment, while girls were more likely to face emotional harassment.
"This study raises an alarm," Jeong told CBS Dallas. "Usually people expect an anti-bullying program to have some impact -- some positive impact."
Image: Anti-bullying message, via Shutterstock