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Promote Helping Behaviors

Programming should target behavior that harms others (e.g., bullying) with a promotion-focused strategy of recognizing and rewarding positive (prosocial) behavior that benefits others (Colvin et al., 1999) in order to reduce risk factors (e.g., bullying) and promote strengths. McCarty (2016) assessed whether students perceive aggressing and helping actions as opposite types of interpersonal behavior; these data support the incompatibility principle (e.g., Colvin et al., 1999).

As a result, new programs should aim to develop social-emotional skills and reward helping behavior in order to reduce aggressive behavior and bullying.

Prevent Aggression and Bullying

Bullying-prevention programs produce only small changes in combating bullying, especially over the long-term (Swearer et al., 2010; Ttofi & Farrington, 2011). Current intervention programs to reduce bullying, many of which use top-down control and punitive consequences, are not meeting the needs of students in schools (Swearer et al., 2010). Even the “blue ribbon” Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) program has demonstrated mixed results when implemented in American schools (Bauer et al., 2007). Anti-bullying interventions are effective (Limber, Olweus, Wang, Masiello, & Breivik, 2018), but less effective than aggression-prevention programs (Hahn et al., 2007), likely due to the added complexity of addressing power imbalances within bullying programs.


Learn more about how we promote caring behaviors and prevent harmful behaviors: