The most effective programs to reduce bullying starts with training and takes a comprehensive approach involving collaboration between students, parents, the school (educators) and the community. The only way to make this positive change in culture and climate is when all parties become involved stakeholders and take personal responsibility for standing up, speaking out and eliminating bullying.
Bullying peaks in middle school but starts as early as preschool with children using relational aggression. Research states the devastating effects of bullying are long term and far reaching, not just for the child who has been a target of bullying but for the bystanders and person who bullies as well.
Bullying is no longer about the big kid picking on the weak kid in the schoolyard. Physical assault has been replaced by 24/7 online bashing. Students are using instant messaging, emails, chat rooms and web sites they create to humiliate a peer. No longer can parents count on seeing the tell-tale signs of bullying (black eye, bloody lip, torn clothes). The damage done by cyber bullies is no less real and can be infinitely more painful. In this age of technology we must foster and maintain channels where students can directly communicate with counselors, parents, teachers and community members.
Most bullying occurs when adults are not present, making it even more difficult for the victims to defend themselves or to report the incidents. Students should feel comfortable reporting a bullying incident as no child wants to be labeled a snitch or rat. Children need to know reported incidents will be handled properly and confidentially. Everyone needs to be educated and trained to accomplish this. Training should include administrators, teachers, parents, students, bus drivers and anyone else who is in contact with children.
What better way to rapidly engage students than meeting them, where they are, in today’s technological world with computers, iPhones, iPads and blackberries, etc. Utilizing virtual reality platforms (gaming technology) to teach important anti-bullying messages. InWorld Solutions provides a unique environment that promotes meaningful interactions in a safe environment. It offers realistic avatars and virtual environments, specially-designed controls and views that allow instructors to easily lead their students, features and content tailored to training, privacy and security, record and play-back capabilities so sessions can be saved and reviewed later, (very important for bullying bystanders) and private in-ear coaching which allows a group leader to privately speak to one group member without the rest of the group hearing.
InWorld Solutions is a leading-edge behavioral health tool that has been successfully used in a variety of settings.
Students will be given an opportunity to create their own Avatar (virtual representation of themselves) and participate in various activities in coordination with the anti-bulling lesson. Then the avatars will role play out specific scenarios as directed by the instructor. The environment can be manipulated by the instructor to obtain the desired outcome. The students are more likely to feel secure in the virtual environment enabling them to express their thoughts and feelings that are otherwise too difficult to discuss.
Utilizing Virtual Reality Therapy to foster positive relationships as a trigger for a broader empowerment process giving the students perceived control (includes beliefs about authority, decision-making skills, availability of resources, and autonomy) and perceived competence (this reflects role-mastery, and successful coping with non-routine role-related situations)
As stated above it is imperative that all individuals having contact with the students should be involved in this process to make the anti-bullying campaign a success in your school. Therefore the teachers and parents are involved in this process through online participation either from the school or from home. For example on Tuesday nights at 7pm their may be a virtual parent meeting to discuss the lessons taught at school. Parents and teachers will also have their own Avatars and can participate in large discussion groups in the virtual world.
InWorld Solutions is an innovative leader in the application of virtual environments to healthcare and behavioral medicine. The InWorld virtual environment platform incorporates a wide range of avatars, content, and features specifically designed to facilitate clinical and educational applications.
The company is a member of the CFG Health Network, a comprehensive medical and behavioral health care provider dedicated to transforming access to cost-effective quality behavioral health care. For more information please call Jeanine Miles at 856-797-4805 or email [email protected].