How does school-wide PBIS relate to the prevention of bullying behavior?
School-wide PBIS begins with the premise that all students should have access to supports to prevent the development and occurrence of problem behavior, including bullying behavior. To avoid stigmatizing any student, school-wide PBIS emphasizes what a student does and where it occurs. Instead of negatively labeling a student as a bully, victim, perpetrator, or aggressor, the emphasis is on labeling what the student does, for example, name-calling, teasing, intimidation, verbal aggression, and cyber- harassment. Bullying behavior is always described in the context or setting in which it occurs, for example, cyberspace, hallway, dance, field trip, bus, or other “setting.”
From a school-wide PBIS perspective, successful prevention of bullying behavior is linked directly to teaching adults and students (a) what bullying looks like, (b) what to do before and when bullying behavior is observed, (c) how to teach others what to do, and (d) how to establish a positive and preventive environment that reduces the effectiveness of bullying behavior (Ross, Horner, & Stiller, 2009).
STOP WALK TALK strategy within school-wide PBIS
Bully Prevention in PBIS
The US Department of Education office of Safe Schools defines bullying as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power – such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity – to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
PBIS Steps to Addressing
Bullying Behavior at School
Step 1. If bullying behavior is identified as a concern, members of a PBIS school leadership team would start by examining their discipline data to determine:
How often specific bullying behaviors (e.g., verbal/physical aggression, intimidation, teasing) were occurring.
Where those behaviors were being reported (e.g., hallways, parking lots, cyberspace).
How many and which students are involved in displays of bullying behavior (including students who are targets and/or observers of bullying behavior).
Which staff members have been involved in bullying behavior incidents.
When during the day (time/period) and week are bullying behavior being reported.
Step 2. A PBIS school leadership team would examine the extent to which Tier I practices and systems are being implemented accurately, fluently, and school-wide. The focus is on the extent to which staff members have:
Taught, provided practice for, and acknowledged the behaviors that represent three to five positive school-wide behavioral expectations (e.g., “respecting self, others, and environment;” “safety, responsibility, and honor”).
Actively and positively supervised all students across all school settings.
Had high rates of positive interactions and contact with all students.
Arranged their instruction so all students are actively academically engaged, successful, and challenged.
Step 3. To address bullying behaviors at Tier I, all students and staff would be taught a common strategy for preventing and responding to bullying behavior:
How to avoid situations where bullying behavior is likely.
How to intervene and respond early and quickly to interrupt bullying behavior, remove the social rewards for bullying behavior, and prevent bullying behavior from escalating.
How to remove what triggers and maintains bullying behavior.
How to improve the accuracy, fluency, and sustainability of implementation efforts.
What to do when prevention efforts do not work.
How and what to report and record when a bullying behavior incident occurs.
Step 4. If Steps 1 through 3 are done well, a relatively small proportion of students (initiators, targets, bystanders) will require more than Tier I supports. These students should not receive more of the same ineffective strategies, especially, more severe consequences. Instead, students whose bullying behavior does not improve should be considered for Tiers II and III supports.
These supports would be initiated by increasing consideration of behavioral function or purpose (e.g., “bully behavior results in access to bystander, target, and/or adult attention;” “target behavior results in access to peer and/or adult attention;” “bystander behavior results in access to initiator attention”).
Based on the function of a student’s behavior, students would (a) begin the day with a check-in or reminder about the daily expectations; (b) be more overtly and actively supervised; (c) receive more frequent, regular and positive performance feedback each day; and (d) conclude each day with a checkout or debriefing with an adult.
More intensive supports would be highly individualized, multi-disciplinary, trans-situational (i.e., school, family, community), and long-term.
Step 5. Improving and sustaining implementation of an effective intervention or practice requires that:
Accuracy and fluency of implementation are monitored frequently and regularly.
Behavioral data are reviewed regularly.
Intervention features are adapted to improve outcomes and sustain implementation.
Efficient and expert capacity is established to enable consideration of new or other behavioral concerns (scaling and continuous regeneration).
PBIS Bully Prevention Elementary and Secondary Brochures
PBIS Bully Prevention Lesson Plans
BP 1312.3 – Uniform Complaint Procedures Annual Notice
BP 1312.3 – Uniform Complaint Procedures
BP 5131.2 – Bullying (Students)
BP 5145.3 Nondiscrimination/Harassment/Intimidation/Bullying (Students)
Parents are a key component in the fight against bullying and cyberbullying. Please take a look at the links below for more information on how to recognize the signs of bullying and the steps you can take to help prevent this from happening to your child.
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