School Anti-bullying Legislation, Anti-bullying Programs and Policies 1
Antecedents of Workplace Bullying 5
Concern about the high prevalence of school bullying has led to the development of school anti-bullying legislation, which requires schools to have clear policies and programs to fight bullying. While it may seem that the recent school anti-bullying legislation might trigger the adoption of strict anti-bullying rules in the workplace, an examination of the effectiveness of school anti-bullying legislation presents a different perspective. In addition, research has not yielded clear evidence on the antecedents of workplace bullying. Without clear evidence on the antecedents of workplace bullying, it is difficult for organizations to formulate effective anti-bullying rules and regulations. With the recent legislation against bullying in schools, the workplace will not formulate strict rules and regulations against bullying.
School Anti-bullying Legislation, Anti-bullying Programs and PoliciesWhen examining the impact that school anti-bullying legislation will have on the workplace, it is necessary to assess if the legislation has been effective in reducing school bullying. The provisions of school anti-bullying legislation require school administrators to adopt policies and programs for preventing bullying. The effectiveness of school-based anti-bullying programs in combating bullying has drawn the interest of researchers. In a review of experimental studies undertaken in the 15 years to 2001, Rigby (2002) evaluated the extent to which anti-bullying programs had been effective in reducing school bullying. Rigbys (2002) Meta-analysis considered empirical studies that had measured, reliably, the prevalence of bullying in the period before and after the adoption of an anti-bullying intervention program.
While the studies reviewed in Rigbys (2002) Meta-analysis had variation in their methodological approaches, the analysis revealed that on eight out of nine occasions, intervention programs resulting from anti-bullying legislation helped to reduce the prevalence of school bullying. Key factors for the success of school anti-bullying programs identified by Rigby (2002) included the participants age and the school administrators commitment to program implementation. In particular, anti-bullying programs were more likely to be successful when students are young compared to when they are older. Also, there was a significant reduction in the incidence of bullying when the people tasked with program implementation were thorough.
Anti-bullying programs employ rules, sanctions, and problem-solving approaches to combat school bullying. Examples of problem solving mechanisms include the method of shared concern and mediation. In the studies reviewed by Rigby (2002), the programs that had anchorage on the problem-solving approach registered modest success in reducing the incidence of school bullying. Another strand of the studies analyzed by Rigby (2002) examined anti-bullying programs that followed a model of rules and sanctions. Interventions based on the rules and sanctions model trace their origin to a 1983 project undertaken in Bergen, Norway; this project sought to address the bullying crisis. Over a two-year period, Olweus (1993) reported a significant decline in the incidence of bullying in Norwegian schools. Interventions employing the rules and sanctions model have yielded mixed outcomes; rules and sanctions have not resulted in a change in bullying behavior in some cases, while in others, they have contributed to a modest reduction in bullying. The ineffectiveness of rules and sanctions in eliminating school bullying exemplifies why legislation is not the ultimate antidote to school bullying.
Smith (2000) notes that in most cases, anti-bullying programs have been modestly successful in combating school bullying. Anti-bullying programs have become ubiquitous, although there is no clarity on the extent to which such programs are effective. In an analysis of school-based anti-bullying programs, Tfoti and Farrington (2011) found that the typical program helped reduced the incidence of bullying by between 20% and 23%. While anti-bullying programs have shown modest success, school administrators have found it difficult to sustain the success. Most programs follow the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) model. In the OBPP model, the interventions in an anti-bullying program entail, among others, improving how peer groups relate, enhancing the safety of schools, and making the school environment supportive of learning and growth (OBPP, 2012). However, the goals of OBPP interventions can be counterproductive considering that they have the potential to perpetuate the bullying cycle; the OBPPs sole focus is on the students environment.
Without simultaneous changes to home, school and a students environment, anti-bullying programs cannot have meaningful impact in reducing school bullying. A social justice perspective to school anti-bullying programs can help enhance their effectiveness, but anti-bullying legislation does not mandate schools to implement programs that incorporate the social justice perspective. In a social justice perspective to school anti-bullying efforts, there is emphasis on the pursuit of restorative goals, building strong teams, and fostering good relations among all stakeholders. School administrators employing the social justice perspective focus on developing good relationships while seeking restitutions for learners who suffered bullying before the implementation of an anti-bullying intervention program. While temporary, the good thing with the social justice approach is it helps in restoring harmony within a learning institution. When combined with an understanding of the antecedents of bullying, the social justice approach enhances the effectiveness of school-based anti-bullying programs.
Anti-bullying programs that integrate the social justice dimension tend to address the broader societal concerns, including equity and social responsibility, which determine the presence of conditions in which oppression and bullying thrive. Anti-bullying programs become sustainably effective when they begin with awareness because once all actors have the requisite awareness, it becomes possible to challenge, and eventually change, the status quo. A model that adequately addresses the factors prevalent in the school climate, and which make bullying thrive, helps people appreciate that stopping school bullying is not all there is to bullying.
In developing anti-bullying programs, there ought to be clarity on the source of the bullying problem, which the anti-bullying legislation does not provide. Looking at the anti-bullying legislation, one can draw various inferences about what bullying entails. One inference is that school bullying is the undesirable aggression that stems from real or imagined imbalance of power, and it recurs, or has the potential to recur, over time. Another inference that one can draw from anti-bullying legislation is that bullying is the habitual cruelty directed at people deemed weak. The failure of anti-bullying legislation to provide a clear definition of what comprises bullying poses a complex problem for the formulation of effective school anti-bullying programs. Bullying goes beyond what people perceive as maladaptive behavior; it traces its roots to oppression across generations, oppression that normative behavior in an individuals environment has helped to perpetuate and validate.
Oppressive behavior in bullying, whether done directly or indirectly, reflects how various generations perpetuate power and privilege, and bullying prevention programs can inadvertently reinforce this perpetuation of power and privilege. If anti-bullying legislation facilitated the development of programs that integrate the social justice model, we would not have seen the perpetuation of the ideas of power and privilege, which encourages bullying behavior. The social justice perspective makes people aware of the antecedents of school bullying, which, in turn, makes them appreciate the status quo. With the appreciation of the status quo, all actors involved in the formulation of anti-bullying programs can challenge it instead of perpetuating it.
In addition, gaining awareness helps stakeholders to formulate and implement effective anti-bullying programs. Take the case where institutionalized racism comprises the status quo. In such a case, the focus of anti-bullying intervention should be to help all stakeholders to identify and understand racism. Once people are aware of racism, the implementation of the anti-bullying program can target specific factions of the stakeholder community. Overall, school anti-bullying legislation has not engendered the development of effective anti-bullying programs, which raises doubts on whether anti-bullying legislation will make the workplace the next place to develop strict rules and regulations against bullying.
Antecedents of Workplace BullyingA detailed examination of the antecedents of workplace bullying also reveals why school anti-bullying legislation might not trigger strict anti-bullying rules and regulations. Studies examining how demographic factors possibly predispose people to workplace bullying have not yielded conclusive evidence. Some studies document gender discrepancies among the victims of workplace bullying, but other studies find that gender is not a significant predictor of the likelihood that a person will fall victim to workplace bullying (De Cuyper et.al, 2009). However, men perpetrate workplace bullying more than women do (Hauge et al., 2009).
When it comes to age, empirical evidence is also inconclusive. Some researchers have documented age differences in the exposure to workplace bullying; they find that older employees are more susceptible to workplace bullying compared to younger employees (Einarsen and Skogstad, 1996). Yet, another stream of empirical evidence shows that the incidence of workplace bullying does not differ across various age groups (Hauge et.al, 2009). There is also lack of clarity on how an employees hierarchical position influences the likelihood that they will fall victim to workplace bullying.
Salin (2001) found that employees holding managerial and supervisory positions do not have the frequent exposure to workplace bullying that employees in low cadres have, but De Cuyper et.al (2009) did not document hierarchical differences among the perpetrators of workplace bullying. Considering that workplace anti-bullying rules and regulations must address the underlying causes of bullying, the lack of conclusive evidence on the link between demographic factors and the incidence of workplace bullying means it is difficult to formulate strict rules and regulations against workplace bullying. Effective interventions against workplace bullying must also address the factors that motivate individuals to bully others. The aspects of a particular workplace situation, and individuals predisposition in a certain context, can engender aggressive behavior among employees.
It is also important to acknowledge that it is not easy for those who perpetrate bullying to give credible information because of their reluctance to admit that they have engaged in bullying behavior. As such, any intervention...
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