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Ontario Trillium Foundation
The Research

Research shows the importance of the skills taught by Community Builders Youth Leadership. While peers are present 85% of the time when others students are being mistreated, they intervene only 11% of the time. When peers do intervene, they were inclined to act aggressively, rarely displaying pro-social skills. (Making a Difference in Bullying, Report #60, April 2000 Pepler and Craig).

Clearly, children, just like adults, need to be taught conflict resolution skills so that they can act responsibly when they witness mistreatment. 

Pepler and Craig also found that teachers believed that they intervened very frequently in situations where students are being mistreated, while in fact they did so in only fourteen percent of classroom episodes, and four percent playground episodes.  Often incidents take place out of the sight of adults in the "theatre of a peer group."  This emphasizes the need for peers to be educated about how to take positive leadership when someone is getting hurt.

These findings are supported by Community Builders' work in the field over the last twenty years. Children repeatedly identify many ways they and their peers are being teased, excluded and mistreated because of their race, ethnicity, religion, language, learning style, gender, class, body size and other features of their identities.  They report being made to feel that they don't belong in school -- sometimes overtly, through bullying and physical violence, and sometimes covertly, through put-downs and social exclusion.  It's often difficult for other children to know what to do when this happens because of their lack of knowledge and skills for intervening and because of the risks of being targeted themselves if they stand up for the victim.

In Community Builders post-program evaluations, the impact most mentioned by students is that they now know what to do when mistreatment or bullying happens. We give them the "confidence and the courage," as one student put it, to make peer pressure a positive force in the school community.