- Why It Matters
- In Schools
- Collaborating Districts Initiative
- Policy & Advocacy
- 2013 CASEL Guide
School staff and parents are often unaware of how serious bullying can be in schools until a dramatic incident captures wide attention. The new documentary “Bully,” released in theaters across the country on March 30, 2012, portrays the tragic effects bullying can have, and it will undoubtedly prompt many schools to take action.
What should schools do? A growing number of states have laws requiring schools to adopt bullying prevention programs. Yet there is no quick or easy solution. Instead, research suggests that a systemic approach is necessary to effectively address bullying and associated behaviors.
Social and emotional learning (SEL) programming can be an effective way to reduce the likelihood of bullying because it promotes skills, behaviors, attitudes, and environmental factors that are incompatible with bullying and other forms of negative peer interactions.
What Does the Research Say About SEL and Bullying?
Research clearly indicates that bullying cannot flourish in a safe and caring learning environment characterized by:
SEL programming strives to achieve these goals, and research indicates it is effective in doing so. Compared to control groups, not only do students who participate in SEL programs demonstrate significant gains in their social and emotional skills; they show higher levels of prosocial behavior, more favorable attitudes toward school and others, and better academic achievement. They also experience lower levels of conduct problems and emotional distress. In other words, SEL programming is associated with multiple positive benefits. It can foster educational and social conditions that make bullying far less likely.
Learn more about the federal government’s Stop Bullying initiative.
Learn more about the benefits of SEL.
Learn more about selecting an SEL program for your school.
Learn more about SEL and bullying prevention.
Learn more about the film “Bully” and The Bully Project.
Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405−433.
Espelage, D.L., Green, H.D., & Polanin, J. (2011). Willingness to intervene in bullying episodes among middle school students: Individual and peer-group influences. Journal of Early Adolescence. Published on line November 17, 2011
SEL and bullying experts Joseph A. Durlak and Dorothy L. Espelage contributed to this web page.