Schools can tackle bullying by teaching children anger management and empathy, study finds

Source: Will Hazell Education CorrespondentSeptember 2, 2021 4:34 pm(Updated 5:36 pm)

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About 800,000 children are bullied each year – but research suggests schools can do something about it

Schools can effectively tackle bullying by teaching pupils skills such as anger management, conflict resolution and empathy, research has found.  

The Early Intervention Foundation charity conducted a review of nearly 30 studies looking at bullying and antisocial behaviour.  

It found that schools could explicitly teach skills to prevent the onset of behaviour problems and to reduce the likelihood that young people will engage in aggressive behaviour or bullying.   

Getting children to practice certain positive traits helped to develop skills such as anger management, empathy, problem-solving, conflict resolution, communication and decision-making which meant they were less likely to be bullies.  

The review also found that taking a “whole-school approach” to bullying – for example by creating a supportive school environment and raising awareness of mental health – is also effective in reducing aggressive behaviour. 

Tackling bullying also had a number of other beneficial consequences for young people, including “improved psychological functioning, wellbeing and quality of life”, reductions in police contact and even reduced smoking, alcohol and drug use.   

Schools meanwhile saw reduced participation in disciplinary procedures and less truancy.   

Dr Jo Casebourne, the EIF’s chief executive, said: “Research shows bullying in the teenage years can lead to increased risk of suicide, getting in trouble with the police, anxiety disorders and a whole host of other negative outcomes.  

“We know that both bully and the bullied can be adversely affected. The upside is we know that support in schools can be effective both for the bully and the victim.”  

The research found that teachers were equally as effective as external professionals in delivering bullying prevention programmes. 

However, teachers were less effective than technology experts when it came to providing cyberbullying prevention programmes.   

In 2020, about 800,000 children in England reported that they were bullied in a given year, with 2.5 million children experiencing some form of bullying before the age of 18.  

If a young person experiences bullying during their teenage years it increases their risk of having an adult mental health problem by more 

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