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CAP’s Bullying Prevention Program

What people have said about their bullying experiences?

“I was teased so horrendously and became so socially isolated that I still suffer from nightmares and a deep sense of shame and self doubt.”
- an adult survivor of bullying

“Although I had high academic standing, I felt in a constant state of humiliation, intimidation and fear. I felt totally unattractive.”
- an adult survivor of bullying

“Thirty years later I still cringe at the thought of what I did…”
- an adult who, as a child, had bullied other children

A victim who eventually bullied others states:
“Bullying was like a drug. It provided a temporary feeling of power and control over others…however over time, I became totally withdrawn from healthy friendships. I had a hard time relating to others.”

Current research reveals that one in six children is victimized by bullying behavior. The type of bullying has also become more serious. There are more physical acts of peer violence than ever before. The Child Assault Prevention (CAP) project offers a comprehensive approach to the problem of bullying in schools. “CAP’s Bullying Prevention Program” is an innovative program designed for Kindergarten to 8th grade and is to be implemented in schools that have already had the Child Assault Prevention Program. It has a three-prong approach to the problem with workshops for school staff, parents and children.

‘CAP’s Bullying Prevention Program’ seeks to mobilize the school to:

• raise awareness and identify types of bullying and harassment
• encourage anti-bully/harassment polices
• train adults in appropriate intervention strategies
• improve student communication, conflict resolution, problem solving and other social skills

The program has received very positive feedback from participating schools. The strongest recommendations come from the children trained in the program – over 150,000 to date. Many of them have shared not only their accounts of victimization but also their stories of bullying others. On more than one occasion, students have resolved to ‘stop hurting others’. With assistance from the school, they received help to begin changing their aggressive behavior.

A whole school approach to the problem includes workshops for school staff, parents and students.

Administrative Meeting:
This initial meeting at the beginning of the school year brings together the school administration and the CAP county coordinator to go over the specifics of implementing the ‘CAP’s Bullying Prevention Program’ Program in the school.

Teacher/Staff In-Service:
All school staff are invited to this 1½ to 2 hour workshop. It helps school staff recognize the effects of bullying behaviors on victims, bullies and witnesses and addresses the school community’s responsibility for appropriate intervention strategies to promote a safe school environment.

Parent Workshop:
This 1½ to 2 hour workshop is similar to the teacher/staff workshop. It helps parents to discuss the problem of bullying behaviors in their schools and communities. Strategies are given on how parents can help children who are victims, bullies or witnesses, change their behaviors.

Steering Committee Meeting:
A meeting held prior to students’ workshops to discuss the unique needs of the school community with student, staff, administration and parent leaders. The committee is made up of a diverse representation of the school community. Its purpose is to oversee the program and to carry out recommendations to further the de-escalation of bullying in the school.

Student Workshops:
Kindergarten – 2nd grade- This two day interactive workshop uses a variety of age appropriate techniques to engage young children in activities and discussions about bullying behaviors. These activities help develop empathy for children who are bullied and promote assertive and positive behaviors within the classroom. The use of affirmation and cooperation encourage team building within the group.

Role-plays are used to illustrate situations and children are asked to brainstorm successful strategies. Self-assertion, peer support and telling trusted adults are the strategies CAP facilitators encourage the children to use. These role-plays give children the opportunity to participate in supportive roles as witnesses and to practice positive behavior.

3rd- 8th grade – These workshops are developmentally appropriate for students in the elementary and middle grades. They promote awareness and sensitivity to bullying behaviors and offer strategies for responses to bullying behaviors. A time frame of 2 hours is provided, depending on what grade level is implemented. These workshops highlight the interactive roles of not only the victim and bully but also the witnesses. It empowers the witnesses, who comprise 85% of all children involved in the bullying dynamic, to take a stand by not participating in bullying behaviors and in reporting acts of aggression. At the conclusion of each day’s workshop, children are given the opportunity to meet individually with the CAP facilitators. The purpose of this review time is to reinforce skills taught during the classroom workshop.It is also a time when children may ask questions, seek help in problem solving a specific bullying situation and strengthen their belief that all children have the right to be SAFE, STRONG and FREE.

An additional session “Cyber-empowerment” is available for the 6th-8th grade students. This workshop delves into the cyber world of today’s youth and explores how some electronic communications are opportunities for bullying, bias crimes and violence among students.

Program Review:
A meeting held with the steering group from the implementation meeting to review the information gathered and the results of the dialogue with students as well as planning for the next phase of the bullying prevention program. A written synopsis will be given to the committee that will summarize the amount and severity of bullying in the school from the school community’s perspective. Suggestions will be given to the committee for ongoing de-escalation of bullying in the school, including setting up school policies, adult intervention and committees on bullying, with the group from the implementation meeting to review the information gathered and the results of the dialogue with students, as well as planning for the next phase of the bullying prevention program.

‘CAP’s Bullying Prevention Program’ seeks to mobilize the school to:

Program Timeline

Frank Joseph and Linda Gregorits, were guidance counselors in the Hackettstown School District in Warren County, where they worked together for more than 20 years. Violence prevention for them was one part of a comprehensive developmental guidance program and ‘CAPs Bullying Prevention Program’ came to their attention at the right time.

Students were concerned about bullying that was taking place, particularly in the fifth grade, and Hackettstown decided to use the program beginning with the establishment of an implementation team that consisted of administrators, counselors, teachers, and five students. Based on the problem, a revised building level policy was developed, and the student handbook was updated to specifically address bullying issues.

The school district uses a planned approach to violence prevention, with age-appropriate themes throughout the middle school grades. The instructional part of the bullying prevention program is introduced in the fifth grade as part of the developmental guidance program, with a follow-up series for the sixth graders. In the seventh grade, The Teen Child Assault Prevention Program is used, which focuses on conflict resolution, and in eighth grade Domestic Abuse and Rape Crisis Center of Warren County has provided a program on sexual harassment. The core group of five students who were part of the original implementation team meets periodically throughout the school year to help monitor the progress of the ‘No More Bullies, No More Victims’ program. They check on the need for specific interventions and provide suggestions about other strategies that might be useful. As Frank Joseph says, “It’s not enough just bringing programs in. You have to prepare to do it, do it, and then follow-up.” Since implementing the ‘CAP’s Bullying Prevention Program’, the school has reduced both the frequency and amount of bullying incidents. “We are very pleased,” Gregorits says. “The program has made a tremendously positive impact on our school.” Taken from the NJEA Review: Violence Prevention – What Works; Phil Brown, Ed.D.

‘CAP’s Bullying Prevention Program’ is a program offered by all of New Jersey’s 21 CAP county projects. For more information, call your local CAP project.