Education

Why student intervention is the perfect bullying antidote

Posted September 26

Bullying is a persisting problem in U.S. schools, but recent research has found student-driven intervention the most effective in decreasing the occurrence of bullying. One student from Los Angeles did just that with her new app, "Sit With Us." (Deseret Photo)

Rather than feel sorry for herself, 16-year-old junior Natalie Hampton decided to do something about the bullying she was experiencing at school.

Hampton, a native of Sherman Oaks, California, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, responded by creating an anti-bullying app called “Sit With Us” that helps students find lunch buddies.

The app, which you can sign up for with either your email or Facebook account, was launched in early September.

It allows students to designate themselves as “ambassadors,” thereby inviting others to join them. Ambassadors can then post “open lunch” events, which signal to anyone seeking company that they’re invited to join the ambassadors’ table, the Huffington Post reported.

As bullying persists in schools across the country, apps like Hampton’s and other tools for victims to find friends are essential.

“Bullying is more rampant than ever, with social media being a prime cause. This app is as kind as it is necessary,” a retired education professor, Jim Delisle, told the Los Angeles Daily News. “It gives a necessary lifeline to kids who need a friend who really, really cares about the kids who often go unseen or are ridiculed.”

In a recent interview with Audie Cornish on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Hampton, who ended up switching high schools because of the bullying, said she wanted to create something that would address bullying in a positive way.

“I felt that if I was thriving in a new school but didn’t do anything about the people who feel like this every single day, then I’m just as bad as the people who watched me eat alone,” Hampton said. “I felt like, with my story, it was my job to stand up and do something about all the kids who feel like this every day.”

Students finding solutions to bullying is extremely effective, research has found.

A joint study by Princeton, Rutgers and Yale universities conducted a social network experiment while observing nearly 25,000 students from 56 middle schools in New Jersey during the 2012-2013 school year.

Researchers found that when influential students spoke out against bullying it had a significant impact on the surrounding culture compared with efforts by school administrators. The results of the study, which found a 30 percent reduction in student conflict reports when student-driven intervention occurred, were released last November.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, marking the 10-year anniversary of the nationwide campaign that was founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.

The Bully Project, much like the National Bullying Prevention Center, has tools and resources to help deal with and prevent bullying, while also sharing stories to show individuals across the world that they are not alone.

The project emphasizes the importance of relationships among students, teachers, administrators, school staff and members of the larger community because they contribute to the culture of the school and set the stage for the degree to which bullying situations are tolerated.

Bullying can take various forms, including physical, verbal, emotional and cyberbullying.

According to stopbullying.gov, some warning signs of bullying include: unexplainable injuries, frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness, difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares, change in eating habits such as skipping meals or binge eating, declining grades, feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem and self-destructive behaviors.

Email: solson@deseretnews.com; Twitter: @sether00ski

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