Survey Systems Blog

Bullying—Everybody loses!

Posted by Jackie Jones on Oct 25, 2013 2:37:00 PM

Bullying QuestionnaireBullying—we all talk about it, what it is, why we need to assess it, how to stop it, how to prevent it, etc. We all know why we need to stop it—our kids deserve to feel safe—in school, in our community, etc. “Bullying impacts the school and the community.” I have made that statement before, as I am sure many others have. But, seldom have I taken the time to think that statement through. Granted, bullying impacts the child, (the victim), other children (the by-standers) and of course, the bully and his/her followers; but the school or the community?

Impact on Schools

Bullying impacts schools in a number of ways— discipline problems, increased suspensions, truancy, all resulting in increased costs and missed goals. The school climate survey is a very important tool to start determining how these aspects truly impact each individual school, and its students. 

  • The bully is capable of disrupting the entire classroom, wasting the time of the entire class as well, until the teacher gets things under control again. If this goes on, educational goals for that class may be missed. In addition to the time lost reining the class back under control, it is difficult to learn/concentrate “when you are scared.”

  • The bully/victim may continue outside of the classroom, requiring disciplinary action, which adds to the staff time required.  Often the victim, as well as the bully, is disciplined, leaving the victim feeling unfairly treated as well as unsafe in school. 

  • If suspensions, whether in school or out of school, are a part of the disciplinary actions, students are now missing classes-educational opportunities- and falling behind the rest of the class. The results are negative all the way around—the student faltering or failing and the school missing academic ratings because of students’ not meeting minimum requirements.

  • Truancy increases for a number of reasons—victims feel unsafe, so simply don’t show up; suspensions have caused student (bully or victim) to be behind, so they skip, and students who are not the bully or the victim feel unsafe or uncomfortable and skip as well. For some students, the poor attendance leads to poor academic performance, which eventually leads to dropping out of school completely.

  • School district costs are increased on several levels: it is more expensive to educate truant students; disciplinary costs are increased; but most of all, funding (which is based on attendance) is lost. In the United States, the average attendance per day is less than 80%! One in five students is missing school on any given day! Since funding is based on attendance, this correlates to a lot of funding lost in absenteeism! Statistics vary, indicating anywhere from 8% of all middle school absences to 58% of the higher grade absences are the result of bullying. (Younger students are less likely to be truant because they have less opportunity to “skip;” they have more supervision, and are normally dropped off and picked up at school.)  Therefore, no matter what the actual statistic is, stopping bullying and thereby eliminating the portion of truancy that is a direct result of bullying would have a positive impact on school finances. 

Impact on Community

The impact on the community can be similar, also negative.

  • Bullying causes truancy to increase. Truants may be additional customers to businesses, or they may be shoplifters. Keeping kids in school, keeps them off the street—reducing the opportunity for juvenile crime, therefore reducing juvenile crime. Juvenile crime adds to law enforcement costs, court costs, and business loss. Two thirds of the boys that bullied in school had three or more criminal convictions by age 24. 

  • In addition to the increased tendency of the bully and victims being truant, the "by-standers of bullying" are also more inclined to skip school. It has been said that 95% of school success is just showing up; and it is a fact, that if a student is not in school, he/she is not learning. A community needs an educated work force for its businesses.  In addition, businesses tend to be more successful if they have a well-educated customer base.

  • As stated above, truancy leads to dropping out; studies have proven that high school dropouts have lower earning potential, higher unemployment, poorer health and are more likely to be incarcerated. All of which also have a negative economic impact on the community.

Start in School

School is the primary place to start to measure and correct the bullying problem. This is not to say that bullying is only the school’s problem—it is a parental problem, it is an educational problem, it is a community problem, it is a workforce problem. But, we need to start somewhere. A school climate survey (or bully survey) is a good place to start.  Meaningful, proactive school reform/changes need to be defined from the results of the school climate survey (or an bully survey). Attention needs to be directed to the results of the survey—address the specifics issues of your school and community.  

Each and every one of us can no longer say “bullying does not affect me,” or “my children are not involved in or impacted by bullying”—everyone is affected in one way or another.

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Topics: bullying questionnaire, School climate surveys, bullying surveys

Forget the Game, Bully the Cheerleaders!

Posted by Jackie Jones on May 31, 2013 12:51:00 PM

A recent CBS Houston blog post about an Oklahoma Thunder cheerleader calls attention to the increasing practice of using the various interactive technologies for bullying people. We often think of bullying as something that only happens to “kids”, in school, on the bus, on the play ground etc.—certainly not something that adults would engage in! But, under the guise of the anonymity of the digital world, people are being more and more "brave" in what they will say, and about whom. Or, not even anonymously, but since no human contact, whether face to face, or voice to ear is required, comments are “bravely” (or stupidly), made in social media form that would never be made in person. Sometimes, they are admittedly made innocently-rather thoughtlessly; not meaning to hurt anyone, sometimes just stupidly; but many times intentionally, deliberately, and solely for the enjoyment of humiliating or intimidating someone else. Inadvertent or not, when others are encouraged to join in, bullying is bullying and harassment is harassment.

Cyber-bullying/Cyber-harassing or Cyber-stalking

This is a growing trend: Cyber-bullying—when the Internet or cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt, humiliate or embarrass another person.  Cyber-bullying is intended to intimidate, control, manipulate, put-down, falsely discredit or humiliate a victim. It is deliberate, repeated, or hostile and encourages exclusion. When cyber-bullying happens between adults (people over 18) it is called cyber-harassing or cyber-stalking. Cyber-harassing can threaten a victim’s employment, reputation or even safety; and often encourages harassment by others. 

The blog was a classic example of encouraging harassment by others—asking for votes on one of three choices of varying degrees of insult. There was a somewhat similar act of cyber-harassing cheerleaders this year, when an insulting comment about a Green Bay Packer’s cheerleaders (with a picture) was posted on the Chicago Bear’s Facebook fan page—encouraging fans to “like” if they agreed. The insult turned ugly, and the responses appeared to be aimed back at the only cheerleader pictured. Some comments were horrible! (One has to wonder if the person responding is really that horrible, or if he/she would have said or thought anything if not enticed by the original cyber-stalker. As with any other type of bullying or harassment, there are a number of people who will just follow along with the "cyber-leader"!)  It is so easy to use the digital tools we have to post inappropriate content, especially if someone thinks he/she is anonymous, untraceable or untouchable, or a member of a much larger “crowd”.

Positive "Bystanders" 

As unfortunate as these two examples are, in both cases, there were positive bystanders—people who didn’t buy into the negativity of the cyber-harasser. In the most recent case (the Thunder’s cheerleader), 58% of the comments received were positive toward her appearance, stating how beautiful they thought she is. A number of Chicago Bears fans also spoke out for the Packer’s cheerleader(s). It is good to see that there are people who are active bystanders rather than passive bystanders—who will stand up to a bully, rather than ignoring what’s going on. This is the example that we want to set for our children--stand up to the bully, stand up for the victim.

Kudos to the Cheerleaders

Real kudos go out to the cheerleaders as well, for the way they handled the situations! The Packers cheerleader responded with an anti-bullying YouTube video (search Kaitlyn Collins).  Four days after it was posted, the picture was taken down and replaced with a message that the Bears organization was against bullying. Several days later another posting indicated that comments were still coming in, and that comments would not be accepted, and Bears Fan bullies would blocked from the site. They have a Zero tolerance policy. 

The Thunder cheerleader who was the target of a blog insult responded very admirably in a tweet: “We wouldn’t know what blessings were if we didn’t go through trials. Thank you to everyone for the compassion and love today. I’m in awe.” Here again, through the wonders of the digital world, the blog has been edited, removing the most hurtful references.

bullying questionnaire, anti-bullying survey

Examples for Our Children

Since in both of the cases mentioned above, corrective actions were taken, one can assume that this may have been inadvertent cyber-harassment---unintentional bullying by over zealous but disappointed fans. It was, none the less, harassment (adult bullying), and should not have happened. Children learn to bully from adults, and the Internet is one of their playgrounds! As adults, we need to be more diligent in policing ourselves. I remember being taught to never say or write anything that I wouldn’t want my mother to hear/read---we also need to remember our children--they are an even more attentive audience. They are out on the Internet everyday, taking queues from misbehaving adults! It can be devastating to a person to be mocked in front of his/her peers—on the Internet it is being done in front of thousands--we need to stop it! When they see adults acting this way, it is no wonder that the "yes" response to "have you been bullied over the Internet?" on bullying questionnaires is so high. The sad part is that the number of "yes" responses to "have you ever bullied someone on the cell phone, or over the Internet" on the anti-bullying surveys is also high. Kids pay attention, and learn from adults, whether or not we think they are watching--they are!  

bullying questionnaire, anti-bullying survey, cyber-bullying

Remember the motto: STOP and THINK before you CLICK! It is up to all of us to set the examples for our children.

Topics: bullying questionnaire, bullying surveys, anti-bullying survey

Bullying Prevention Challenge - Beyond the Bullying Questionnaire!

Posted by Jackie Jones on Jan 28, 2013 8:15:00 AM

A National ChallengeNo Bullying circle

In my last blog, I had just discovered that October was National Bullying Prevention Month (a little late!). Once again, I am late! I have now learned about another great program! The Health Resources and Services Administration and the Federal Partners for Bullying Prevention had posted a video challenge to teens (between the ages of 13 and 18) to create a video to help prevent or end bullying in schools and communities around the country. I indicated that I was somewhat late, because this challenge was issued in August, with all entries due to be received by October 14, 2012 (of course, during National Bullying Prevention Month). The challenge was for teens to create and submit a 30 to 60 second video. The video had to be original and new, never displayed or distributed before (not previously on YouTube). The video had to close with a visual mention of the Stop Bullying website:


(A federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W. - Washington, D.C. 20201).

The intent of the challenge was to have peer-to-peer communication, presenting positive ideas on how not to be a bystander when observing bullying, how to help the victim, and how to help create a safer, kinder culture (in addition to "spreading the word" about the Stop Bullying website). It is "kids leading kids" to think about the right thing, to do the right thing, or at the very least know where to go for help. One of the best ways to address bullying would be to change the cultures in schools, and the best way to change a culture is from within—peer-to-peer—a great challenge!

The Entries

There were 900 videos submitted in the challenge—900! My initial reaction was WOW, that’s a lot of videos to screen! But then my mind went to 50 states, that’s only an average of 18 per state, and suddenly it’s not very many. We need more publicity for challenges as well! 

The 900 submissions were reviewed and narrowed down to 25 semi-finalists by December. Voting was opened to the public on December 3, 2012 to select the top entries out of the semi-finalists. Public voting was closed on December 10, 2012. Again, last month—I missed my chance! (To be honest, I am not sure that I would have watched 25 videos, that’s a little more time than I would normally spend “surfing,” but if the others were even almost as good as the finalists, I think I might have tried to find the time!) There are 5,595 followers for this challenge on the Challenge website, which leads me to believe that at least 5,595 people did watch all 25 videos and did vote. There are now seven videos (finalists) in the Submission Gallery.  

I did watch all of the seven videos—they are all very good—very good. It is amazing, the talent of the youth of America! The videos are all very creative; the presentation is great.  The suggestions or ideas are wonderful. There is even one video with original music, the teen-aged singer/song-writer is extremely talented! These kids are capable of impacting cultural change! Kudos to all of entries, they all deserve to win. 

The Winners

The top three video finalists were to be announced mid-January, but the announcement has not been made yet. The winner could be announced any time now! The "winner" will receive $2000, and the two runners up will receive $500 each. I am anxious to see which ones do actually get picked as the winners. As I indicated, there are 5,595 followers on the challenge, so there are a lot of people besides me waiting to see who the winners will be.

As an organization involved in many bullying questionnaires and school climate surveys, we here at Survey Systems support these kinds of efforts to change the culture and climate of schools. It is encouraging to watch these great videos! 


To view the finalist videos, click on the link below:

                                               VIEW VIDEOS      

 The winners have been announced!!

The GRAND PRIZE WINNER:  Break the Chain

HONERABLE MENTION:   It Starts with One

Pablo Soberanis's Submission-Make a Difference

Topics: bullying questionnaire, bullying survey

National Bullying Prevention Month Needs More Publicity!

Posted by Jackie Jones on Jan 11, 2013 3:18:00 PM

Did you know “we” have a National Bullying Prevention Month?

October was National Bullying Prevention Month. I didn't know this, so I had to do some research! We scan a large number of the various bullying prevention surveys, so this was a subject I needed to learn more about! Most states have some sort of bullying prevention policy or program in place. The majority of the programs are targeted at schools, and use tools such as Climate Surveys or Bullying Questionnaires, to determine the existence/extent of bullying. 

Almost all of the bullying prevention programs I’ve read about have several things in common:

Definition of bullying:

The definition of bullying: “aggressive, unwanted behavior that is intentional and involves a real or perceived imbalance of power; most often repeated over time.” This definition appears to be the standard, repeated in almost any article on bullying. Dr. Dan Olweus defined bullying as such in the early 1970s. Dr. Olweus is touted as the world expert on bullying. He began his research in Norway (in the early 1970s), and as early as 1981 was pushing for legislation against bullying in schools. It was the mid 1990s before the Norwegian and Swedish parliaments enacted such laws, and later for the United States. (Between 1999 and 2010, 46 of the 50 states in the United States enacted anti-bullying laws.) Many of the state laws now include the words harassment or intimidation in their definition of bullying as well. The state laws are primarily in response to events such as the Columbine shooting, and increases in school violence; whereas Dr. Olweus’s premise for the laws was based more on human rights—the fundamental right of any student to feel safe in school. 

Is there a problem?

The first step of any anti-bullying program is the requirement to assess if there is a problem, and to determine the extent of bullying—(who? how? where? when?). This assessment is usually made by surveying all or a large sample of the students using anonymous bubble marked scannable survey forms. The most widely used scannable bullying form is the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire. This is part of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP). The program itself is arguably the most researched, and most widely used bullying prevention program in the world. The English version of the questionnaire, as well as the program, is used by thousands of schools in the U.S. 

There are also a number of school climate surveys that are being used as assessment tools for bullying, although in smaller quantities, as well as some health and wellness scannable survey forms that include bullying questions.

school climate survey, bullying survey, scantron form

The forms are scanned; reports are generated and returned to the school. (In the case of the Olweus Bullying Questionnaires, the information is included in a national data base, and individual school reports contain a comparison to the national average.)

When the survey is completed, what’s the next step?

Upon receipt of the survey results, the next step is to determine what the results mean, and decide how to deal with them. This may include defining/building a bullying prevention program that addresses the issues identified in the survey. Sometimes this done by a committee of teachers, sometimes a committee of teachers and students combined; sometimes separate committees of teachers and students, and then the parents and community are included. Initially, the committee(s) is (are) responsible for: 

  1. Determining and/or publishing the school policy/rules on bullying. Making sure every one knows what the rules are, what the consequences are, and that there is support within the school. Making sure that everyone knows where to go to report bullying, or where to go to seek help. Educating students, teachers, parents, and community members alike.

  2. The education, support and enforcement processes continue, and after some time (a school year), the assessment process is repeated. The initial survey is now the baseline—“where we were”. Another survey is completed, scanned, reported and the results compared to measure progress, change and the overall effectiveness of the program over time, and the cycle continues. 


Are Bullying Prevention Programs working?

Yes! There are numerous articles touting the success of both the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, and various other School Climate or specialized Bullying surveys. In addition to reducing bullying, (thereby improving school climate), these various programs are said to be positively impacting truancy, test scores, and vandalism. 

To download a free list of evidence-based bullying prevention programs that have been examined and approved by federal agencies to assist schools in their bullying prevention efforts, click the link below.  

Download Bullying Prevention Curriculum List!





Topics: bullying questionnaire, bubble answer sheets, bullying survey, School climate surveys