Why School AntiBullying Programs Don't Work

Why anti bullying programs don't work

There has been a lot of news about bullying lately. Stories of children being bullied at school, on the football field or through social media streams, has led to many discussions on what we as the adults can do to create a safer environment for our children. One of the biggest concerns our children face, that we did not have to deal with, is that the bully has 24/7 access to their targets because of social media. This has led to many passionate conversations and suggestions on what we should be doing to create a safer environment for our children. It has also led to the development and introduction of several antibullying programs in schools. But did you know that for an antibullying program to be successful, it has less to do with the program and more to do with you? The number one indicator that determines whether or not an antibullying program will be successful is the climate, culture and relationships between the adults.

I recently read a book called, “Why Antibullying Programs Don’t Work” by Twemlow and Sacco. In a nutshell, they were asked to find the best antibullying program for schools, in the wake of the Columbine school shootings. They spent several years researching, studying and visiting schools in the United States and other countries and came up with this truth: There are several great programs out there, but the effectiveness of the program is tied directly to the way the adults treated each other and the students. The climate and culture of the school and community needs to be congruent with the program. They found that students could learn the valuable knowledge being taught to them but were only able to implement that knowledge if they saw the adults treating each other in the same respectful, kind and loving way.

This has me thinking about what our children and students observe from us every day. How do we treat each other? What are they learning by simply observing us? What are their thoughts about our government officials who seem to be bullying each other day in and day out? How do you as a teacher or parent deal with your colleagues or spouse? Even better, how do you as an administrator get compliance and buy in from your schools?

These are tough questions that require personal responsibility and introspection. Our kids need our help but will not understand what we are teaching them, if we as the adults are not aware of how we bully each other.

So what do we do? I have been very fortunate to come across the Nurtured Heart Approach™ several years ago. This approach has totally transformed my work with schools, families and the community. The main underpinnings of this approach revolve around the truth that we all are created with value and were created to reveal individual value to each other. When this occurs in our schools, homes, and community, bullying does not serve a purpose. If parents, teachers and community leaders are after revealing the innate value to our children and each other, then we have created a climate and culture for our kids where antibullying programs have the best chance of doing what they are intended to do: STOP BULLYING.

If you are a parent, teacher, community leader or anyone else who has an impact on our community and schools, then I encourage you to join me on Nov 17th for a workshop on the Nurtured Heart Approach™. I will be teaching about the philosophy behind the approach and its application in your setting. Please come and join us to do our part in raising healthy children.

Here is a link to the registration page:


I hope to see you there!

Dan Peterson