Why do students bully one another? Allen said it can alleviate boredom, provide entertainment or amusement, enact revenge, express contempt for someone who is disliked, ostracize or shun someone who is not welcome, enhance status with peers or force someone to conform to group norms.
Allen said she also believes the environment one grows up in contributes to bullying. She used the research of Diana Baumrind to show three types of parenting styles _ permissive or neglectful, authoritarian and authoritative. The characteristics of the later is what should be encouraged, according to Allen.
"Those characteristics include believing in the child, trusting the child, listening to the child and letting that child know he is important," Allen said. "Democracy is learned through experience and discipline should be handled with authority, but dignity is protected. Rules should be simple and clearly stated ..."
What may come as a shocker is Allen does not see punishment as the best solution for correcting bullying. She said it often leads to worse behavior.
"They are all works-in-progresses," she said. "They are learning and making mistakes. We have to look at them as mistakes and help them move beyond them."
Because of the way laws are written, Allen said, there is a requirement to find somebody who is a victim and somebody who is is a perpetrator. However, she said it is not as clear-cut as that.
" she said.
"We are not going to legislate or punish our way out of the bullying problem," Allen added. "We need to think of creative and humane ways to help kids shape their behavior."
It is a good idea to offer children opportunities for amnesty (opportunity to confess without fear of punishment), according to Allen. She said she used this tactic right before bed with her children at home because it provided an opportunity to talk about what was done, why, how it affected others and what could be done so it would not happen again.