Monday, 8 March 2010

REBT and Bullying

Recent research by Giulio Bortolozzo and Dr. Ken Rigby has shown that low self worth is associated with a tendency to be victimised. Dr. Ellis' Unconditional Self Acceptance (USA) helps individuals understand that others’ views of them don't define who they are. These individuals understand that rejection and failure cannot diminish their worth - they can be rejected but can never be a reject, they can fail but are never a failure. The research also shows that bullies tend not to accept others. They may view others who are different as being losers or nerds and decide it's ok to bully them because they are not 'normal'. Ellis calls this Conditional Other Acceptance (COA). The research establishes that there is a relationship between how people view themselves and others and bully and victim behaviour.

Ellis invites educators to teach the self-helpful rational beliefs of Unconditional Self/Other Acceptance. If children develop (construct) the belief that they are only worthwhile when they are approved by significant others then they will be vulnerable to the negative opinions of others. If children construct a belief that others are OK only when they satisfy certain conditions e.g. look a certain way, behave a certain way they may tend to bully others.

These irrational beliefs can be challenged and children can 'unlearn' the harmful ideas that underpin how they behave (victim or bully). This can be done by applying REBT principles via all school processes and practices, through BEHAVIOUR EDUCATION.

Harmful, irrational ideas undermine our capacity to make healthy decisions and to manage unhealthy negative emotions like anger and anxiety. Dr. Rigby recently made the point that whilst bullying remains a major concern in schools and beyond we would be wise not to believe that it's out of control and to think that a punitive approach would solve the problem. In fact, there is now reliable evidence that (i) the prevalence of bullying in schools is becoming less frequent and (ii) well-evaluated interventions have demonstrated that some programs have led to significant reductions in peer victimisation. Irrational and unsubstantiated claims to the contrary can prevent the adoption of such programs. These are examined in detail in Ken Rigby's new book: 'Bullying Interventions: Six Basic Approaches'. Melbourne, ACER, 2010.

The poem below by Giulio Bortolozzo was inspired by Ellis' ideas of Unconditional Acceptance of Self and Others.

Bully for You

Do you think you have nothing to offer?
Use self-talk which is negative and untrue
And you don’t think you amount to much?
Then I have just the thing for you!

Bully for you, bully for you
I have a bully for you!

I look for people to victimise
My admiring buddies think I’m great
I like to see fear in your eyes
You deserve to suffer mate!

Bully for you, bully for you
I’m the bully for you.

I will persist, never let up
I don’t consider how you feel
My life’s work is to see you suffer
You don’t matter; you’re no big deal

Bully for you, bully for you
I’m the bully for you!

We control our thoughts
We are what we perceive
We can choose to be powerless victims
Until we change what we believe

Victim for you, victim for you
Will I be the victim for you?

I’m a worthwhile person
I have qualities unique to me
We are all different from each other
That makes us the same you see?

No, I will not allow you to bully
You don’t have my permission you see
I will not be your sporting obsession
You are not the bully for me!

Bully for me, bully for me.
You are not the bully for me.

The cloak of silence
Is the bully’s best friend
So speak out, everybody!
It’s the cloak that’s specially tailored
For you and for me!

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