WIESBADEN, Germany - Anti-bullying expert Michele Borba had some encouraging information about bullies when she spoke at Wiesbaden High School.
 
Bullies learn their behaviors, Borba said during her March 22 talk, and that means bullies can change those behaviors. "Our kids are hardwired at birth for empathy," she said. "That's the good news."
 
Borba is an internationally known expert on parenting issues who has written 22 books and appears frequently on television shows such as the Today Show. The high school was one of several Department of Defense Dependents Schools she visited during a weeklong visit to Germany.
 
In order to change any kind of behavior, including bullying behaviors, it is important to remember that it takes a minimum of 21 days of repetition of new behaviors to be effective, Borba said.
 
To stop bullying, there must be active adult involvement, firm limits to unacceptable behavior, fair discipline and strong role models, Borba said. That is according to the research of Dr. Dan Olweus, a psychologist who founded the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program at Clemson University, she said.
 
It also helps to enlist the help of other students, 85 percent of whom are neither bullies nor victims but bystanders, Borba said.
 
One study showed that 57 percent of the time when bystanders intervened, bullying stopped within 60 seconds, Borba said.
 
Also, 2010 study by researchers at the University of California at San Diego and Harvard University found that cooperative and helpful behavior spreads through social networks as quickly as uncooperative, bad behavior, Borba said.
 
One way to increase the spread of good behaviors through social networks is to encourage students from different social cliques to interact with each other, Borba said.
 
Another way to curb bullying is to hand out index cards to students and ask them to anonymously write down where they feel least safe inside their school or community, Borba said.
 
When school administrators or community members find out those locations, they can make sure there is an adult present in the area, Borba said.

For more information on Michele Borba, visit www.micheleborba.com. For more information on bullying, visit www.stopbullying.gov.

Page last updated Fri April 13th, 2012 at 00:00