It has been well documented that bullying in schools is an international reality that causes both long and short term damage to the targets, aggressors and bystanders. Bullying puts our students on the fast track to violence, depression, suicide and adult crime. Fortunately, research has shown that there are numerous successful avenues by which schools can reduce incidents of bullying and violence, to create a school climate of safety and respect.
One tool that we have found very effective in reducing bullying when incorporated into school-wide positive school culture practices is The Support Group Method (SGM) of bullying intervention. SGM, formerly known as The No Blame Approach, is a widely used anti-bullying method developed by Barbara Maines and George Robinson. SGM uses 7 simple steps of “SUPPORT”, which combine some of the best elements of proven bullying prevention and intervention strategies: increased empathy, peer ownership and bystander activation.
Do you know the 7 Steps of Support? You can learn them! Support Group Method 7 SUPPORT Steps
SGM also recognizes and addresses the need for many aggressors, or “bullies”, to feel popular and powerful. SGM offers these students the opportunity to get their power needs met in socially appropriate ways, teaching them skills they might never learn otherwise. Finally, as with social norming, our aggressors are re-educated as to how “normal” bullying is NOT by pairing them with more socially appropriate students during the intervention process.
The Support Group Method does not replace, but complements a school’s anti-bullying policy and code of conduct matrix. The SGM violence prevention skill is an easily utilized tool that can be embedded into your school-wide efforts in a sustainable way. It can be incorporated into school safety teams or by individuals such as guidance counselors, teachers, before and after school care workers, as well as administrators. Please keep in mind that the success of any intervention method relies on effective training, fidelity of process, school-wide integration, as well as documentation and evaluation. If you or your school/agency are interested in being trained on SGM, watch the SGM Instructional video and contact the DPI for further information.
“Crying for Help: The No Blame Approach to Bullying” the book reviewing the Support Group Method, developed by Barbara Maines and George Robinson, originally could be found at Lucky Duck Publishing.
The Support Group Method research overview from Sage.