Anti-bullying programs seem to result in…more bullying?
Seokjin Jeong and Byung Hyn Lee set out to discover how bullying prevention programs could be effectively transferred from individual schools to schools on a national level. To their surprise, they discovered that bullying prevention programs don’t always produced the expected results:
“Surprisingly, bullying prevention had a negative effect on peer victimization. Contrary to our hypothesis, students attending schools with bullying prevention programs were more likely to have experienced peer victimization, compared to those attending schools without bullying prevention programs. It is possible that bullies have learned a variety of antibullying techniques but chose not to practice what they have learned from the program.”
Such findings bring up an important point. We spend a lot of time promoting awareness of different issues today. But while awareness of a problem should be raised, is it possible to fixate on that problem so much that we actually increase it?
The fact is, high attention on any one issue can work both ways. On the one hand, it raises focus on the victim. Being able to come out and say, “Yes, I’ve suffered, too,” even for the smallest thing, can be oddly gratifying and status boosting. On the flip side, perpetrators also stand to receive a certain level of prestige and attention for their actions, however wrong they may be.
In much the same way as saturation coverage of mass shootings creates more mass shootings I suspect.