Reducing Bullying: Application of Social Cognitive Theory

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Bullying is a complex phenomenon that requires a thorough understanding of its causation in order to effectively reduce its commonness. To successfully explain why an individual chooses to engage in aggressive behaviors towards their peers, it is critical to assess whether or not they were previously exposed to bullying or other violent behaviors, express pro-bullying attitudes, or believe that bullying is a normalized or acceptable behavioral. From the article, studies have found that “10% to 33% of students report being victimized”, “5% to 13% report bullying others” and “1% to 11.5% report both bullying others and being bullied.” It is important to recognize that bullying is a significant problem and must be remedied through the modification of the social and cognitive behaviors of these individuals that are most likely the primary causation of their bullying perpetration. In the article “Reducing Bullying: Application of Social Cognitive Theory” by Susan M. Swearer, Cixin Wang, Brandi Berry, and Zachary R. Myers, bullying is a rising issue across the nation that must be approached and intervened with appropriate measures.

The social cognitive theory was used to explain the engagement in aggressive behaviors and how the individuals learn to bully since youth have several chances to learn through observational learning. However, not all children who were exposed to aggression and bullying will, later on, execute those behaviors that they previously observed. Individuals who hold on to the pro-bullying attitudes will more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors in the future. However, attitudes also contain “cognitive, affective, and behavioral components and reflect a mental state of readiness that influences the likelihood that one will engage in a given behavior in the future” (Allport, 1935). The implementation of cognitive-behavioral interventions that target children and adolescents through the implementations of programs in schools such as Problem-Solving Skills Training (PSST), Parent Management Training (PMT), and Aggression Replacement Training.

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The implication of the full program generates the best results in a decrease in delinquent behaviors in children. Aggression Replacement Training includes “skillstreaming” which it focuses on teaching children appropriate behaviors, anger control training that concentrates on properly regulating emotions and moral reasoning. These programs are designed to accommodate a person’s “unique cognition, emotions and behaviors.” Components that include a high level of individualization are crucial and necessary to effectively minimize an individual’s tendency to commit aggressive acts towards their peers. According to the study “Outcome evaluation of Washington State’s research-based program for juvenile offenders” done by Barnoski in 2004, the implications of these programs have yielded long-term effects in reducing aggressive behaviors in youths on a community level while having both interpersonal and intrapersonal influence when looking at the participating individuals. Many bullying interventions lack the most critical component which is a “comprehensive assessment of bullying and related problems.” However, the Target Bullying Intervention Program (T-BIP) was implemented in various schools in hopes of combating the issue.

The program is a “one-on-one cognitive-behavioral intervention for bully perpetrators” where constructs related to the aggressive behaviors are closely assessed by interventionists including depression, anxiety, cognitive distortions, self-concept, perceptions of school climate, bullying involvement, and treatment acceptability. All components of T-BIP are supported by research that provides a high rate of success. In reflection, the article focuses more on the positive influence of these interventions if it was carried out under ideal circumstances where both parents and child are willing to participate in the full program but did not mention other factors that could affect the outcomes. This raises many questions such as “what if the parent does not want to participate in the intervention?” or “are there any other alternatives for children who at the moment are living in an abusive environment?”

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Reducing Bullying: Application of Social Cognitive Theory. (2022, Mar 11). Retrieved from

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