California schools are experimenting with approaches to combat bullying in schools, the Los Angeles Times Reports. Ava de la Sota of UCLA’s Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School developed Cool Tools to help young children grasp such concepts as integrity, self-reliance, kindness, fairness, and responsibility. Los Angeles’s Claremont High School is experimenting with an interactive movie and video game called “Hate Comes Home” to build tolerance and empathy among students. WILL Interactive Inc., a producer of training films for the military and other organizations, developed the program for the Anti-Defamation League, which distributes it free to high schools.
The programs try to enlist “bystanders” as a solution to a problem that affects more than just the victim. Contrary to popular opinion, bullies are not social outcasts suffering from low self-esteem, says UCLA psychology professor Jaana Juvonen, lead author of a study on bullying published last year. “Bullies are popular and respected; they are considered the ‘cool’ kids,” Juvonen said. “They don’t show signs of depression or social anxiety, and they don’t feel lonely.” Programs that seek to boost bullies’ egos are on the wrong track, Juvonen said.