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Oct 11, 2013 1:42 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Study shows anti-bullying campaigns don't work

TUCSON - A new study says anti-bullying campaigns might make bullying worse.

Professors from the University of Texas and Michigan State University wrote an article in the Journal of Criminology.

"Contrary to our hypothesis, students attending schools with bullying prevention programs were more likely to have experienced peer victimization," the study stated, "compared to those attending schools without bullying prevention programs."

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. An audience packed The Loft Cinema for a viewing of Submit the Documentary, which is about cyber-bullying. The film's marketing manager, Jourdan Devies, hopes the film will curb the problem.

"We've had a lot of great communication from people at screenings," Devies said, "who have said it's really enlightening. And ‘My kids are on social media, and I didn't know all these things were happening."

Levi Fallavollita is a student who has been fighting the problem. He even wrote a book that is available on Amazon. He said his work attracted more bullying from some kids.

"I would get mean messages on Facebook posts," he said. "And also, people would get, I guess, jealous and would try and start rumors."

University of Arizona professor Sheri Bauman is an expert on bullying. She said the journal article was poorly done.

"It's a case of bad science," she said, "promoting ideas that can't be substantiated but getting lots of press attention."

She said a rise in reported bullying may be a case of better awareness.

"It's going to look as though the rates have increased," Bauman said. "What's happening is, their knowledge has increased, and their willingness to disclose has increased."

She said successful anti-bullying campaigns do exist, but they are a lot of work.

"Doing an assembly once a year doesn't cut it," Bauman said. "And we know that."

She said there is some anecdotal evidence local programs are working.

"People think that things are better," she said. "But we don't have the data."

Despite some negative reactions, Fallavollita said his work is good for victims.

"My antibullying book has helped them when they're struggling with bullying," he said. "Or it helped them feel better after an experience."

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