We have never met an administrator, teacher, guidance counselor or any educator who truly believes detentions and suspensions are effective in reforming bullies. Knowing that, one would think that most schools would devise alternative consequences for bullies. Unfortunately, only a tiny percentage of schools have devised programs that work. The problem with detentions and suspensions is that, at best, "kicks the hornet's nest." After a bully is told they will have a detention or suspension they are elated to have a day off school, don't care or are irritated and become motivated to create a retaliation plan directed at their original victim. The vast majority of educators agree with the above statement. So why haven't better reformation programs for bullies been developed? The answer is one you hear frequently in school districts: "building programs take time, staff, energy and money." This is correct. In fact, legitimate and authentic. Which is why we recommend parents get involved, seek expert counsel and develop a consequence protocol for bullies that is effective in stopping the behavior and actually works. It will be an investment in time you will never regret.
Effective bully consequence programs that work have a few key components:
Create reflection and acknowledgement that bullying is wrong by the bully
Drive introspection by the bully to really understand why bullying is both hurtful for the victim and quite damaging to the bully himself
Include a learning exercise where the bully is allowed to realize how bullying is damaging to our society
Promotes alternatives to bullying to address their own issues
All of the above are critical. You may ask, "so, what type of program would include all of those components?"
Glad you asked.
Teachable Consequence Protocol - Examples For Bullies:
Required to research the topic via Internet and library to better understand the ill-effects of bullying on victims and then write a significant report on their findings and learnings
Required to watch an educational film that illustrates the issue, it depravity, ill-effects and dramatic or extreme results (e.g, suicides). Post-viewing, a trained counselor would discuss the bully's learnings and new understanding (our book, "When A Child Is Being Bullied: Real Solutions" has a concept outline for this type of film that can be adapted)
Mandated to perform community service
Required meeting with a formerly incarcerated gang member who has reformed
Mandated to prepare a reform speech with specific action items he will take to reform prior to meeting with a "bully consequence panel" where he will confess, share why he is wrong and how he will change moving forward
The above are just a few examples, we have many more recommendations on teachable consequences in "When Your Child Is Being Bullied:Real Solutions" (available on amazon and www.solutionsforbullying.com).