The power of social norming & social literacy

A three-year study of bullying conducted in New Jersey middle schools by Profs. Wesley Perkins and David Craig tested out the social norms approach used successfully in other areas such as substance abuse, driving under the influence and seat-belt use. They found that changed perception changes behavior in the case of bullying: When middle school students found out – through surveys conducted at their own schools – that most kids in their school don't bully or treat other people other meanly, social aggression went down even more, in direct proportion to that corrected perception.

On the social literacy front, it was during the runup to the 2012 symposium for the Born This Way Foundation at Harvard Law School – as participants were preparing these papers on preventing social cruelty online – that social-emotional learning (SEL) is the major part of cyberbullying and bullying prevention. The skills, or competencies, developed in SEL training are described here by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning in Chicago.

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