Bullying Prevention (BP) Update - Feb 14, 2012

Post date: Jan 17, 2013 9:38:44 PM

Dear IL PBIS Colleagues,

Thank you for all the hard work and effort each of you put into creating positive school climates. As many of you know, the topics of bullying and the effectiveness of bullying prevention (BP) efforts continue to be areas of focus for the IL PBIS Network. In addition to district requests for assistance, the Network receives calls directly from concerned parents and family members about bullying. It is also a topic in the media and in local communities because of unfortunate and repeated tragedies. Therefore we want to reach out and share 1) resources and information on bullying prevention efforts, 2) strategies for responding to and working with families who raise concerns about bullying behavior directed towards their children, and 3) the Illinois PBIS Network’s policy on responding to family concerns about how schools implementing PBIS are handling BP. Finally, we would like to ask you to share any policies and strategies that have helped your district partner effectively with families who have raised concerns about their child experiencing bullying behavior.

Resources: In December 2010, the IL PBIS Network created a technical assistance brief on bullying prevention. This resource, along with other research, presentations, and curriculum, is available at http://www.pbisillinois.org/curriculum/bullying. The brief provides an overview of the current research on effective practices and strategies to use when implementing your BP system. For example, research suggests that bullying prevention efforts should be incorporated within a school-wide system of behavior support, and also should establish and utilize partnerships with families and the community. Ineffective strategies identified in research include the use of peer-mediated counseling sessions, using the word “bully” in posters or materials promoting your school-wide efforts, and targeting only a subset of students for the intervention.

Responding to Family Concerns: Families are often the first to notice bullying issues their children experience at school. Therefore questions and concerns from families, especially those related to bullying or safety issues, need to be seriously considered by school and district leaders. The majority of family concerns expressed to the Illinois PBIS Network have been specifically about steps school leaders did, or did not take following documented bullying-related events. For example, parents of youth who had been bullied reported feeling left out of the decision-making process regarding interventions for their child, and not having access to progress-monitoring data on how their child is responding to the interventions. Also, parents have contacted the Network because they were told their school was using PBIS to implement BP and they had questions about the BP efforts within the PBIS context in their child’s school.

As you are aware, a family who expresses concerns about their child experiencing bullying should feel that school leaders are taking their concerns seriously. This can be accomplished by school/district leaders: a) meeting with the family to listen to their concerns and gather all pertinent information from the family perspective; b) working closely with the family by including their input as they develop plans to support their child, c) keeping families updated by sharing data on their child’s response to the support and interventions provided, and d) seeking the family’s perspective on the effectiveness of the interventions. These procedures may be more effective if schools, as part of their school-wide BP efforts, universally encourage all parents to share questions, fears and ideas about BP efforts. Establishing a climate where all families feel informed and comfortable sharing concerns and suggestions can help ensure effective school and family partnerships when incidents do occur.

Illinois PBIS Network’s Policy: When a family member shares concerns with the Network related to their child’s school’s response to a bullying issue, the Network will, with the family’s permission, share the expressed concern with the district and offer support and technical assistance to the district. This could include self-assessing, action planning, and progress-monitoring current bullying prevention including school, family, and community partnership efforts. The Network can support the school in improving their multi-tiered systems of support; including their individual student support processes for youth involved with bullying. The Network may also provide support to the concerned family member including sharing bullying prevention literature, connecting the parent to local resources, and inviting the parent to participate with the Illinois PBIS Network as we continue exploring ways schools can better meet the needs of all youth and families.

Next steps school leaders can take in order to learn more about and improve bullying prevention efforts.

    1. Read and become familiar with the IL PBIS Network’s technical assistance brief on bullying (http://www.pbisillinois.org/curriculum/bullying).

    2. Download free BP curriculum and resources from the National Center on PBIS (http://www.pbisillinois.org/curriculum/bullying).

    3. Revisit your school’s communication policies and procedures to ensure family members have a voice in decision-making processes. Include family members on all school and district decision-making teams.

    4. Participate in bullying prevention and School/Family/Community Partnerships (SFCP) sessions at PBIS conferences and regional training events. Invite family leaders to participate in trainings.

    5. Share information on and take part in BP and SFCP technical assistance and discussions during External Coaches and Family Team Representative Networking Meetings.

    6. Work with your schools’ PBIS teams in strengthening their multi-tiered systems of behavior support and school, family, community partnerships.

We hope you find these resources and information helpful when working with your PBIS schools. If you need any further clarification or have any questions about any aspect of this correspondence, please don’t hesitate to contact me, or your PBIS Technical Assistance Coordinator.

In closing, we again thank you for all you are doing to create safe learning environments in your schools and we encourage you to continue sharing strategies that have proven effective with stopping and preventing bullying behavior with our Network. We are especially interested in examples of policies to guide schools as they work closely with families to ensure quick and effective supports and interventions for youth experiencing bullying behavior. Your successful experiences can help us continue to shape the messages and information we share through our statewide network.


Lucille Eber

Statewide Director, IL PBIS Network