What is the Number 1 Reason Bullying Programs Fail?

by | Jul 25, 2020

Bullying Prevention, Anti-Bullying, or Stop Bullying! Whatever you call it, there are programs everywhere online and in the media these days! However, it seems to be getting worse rather than better. Why?

What is the Number 1 Reason Bullying Programs Fail in the opinion of SAFE International Founder, Chris Roberts?


NUMBER 1 Reason: They have no lasting effect! The majority of Anti-Bullying programs I see or hear about are on the news, and virtually 100% of the time, they involve a celebrity or athlete. That is not bad in itself, but in the news feature, we typically see the students yelling some anti-bullying slogan. They may even get a pin or t-shirt with that anti-bullying slogan on it. Then they all leave the gymnasium excited, saying what a great event it was. 

Many may argue it brings more “awareness” to the topic of Bullying, but anyone who is not aware these days has to live under a rock! How about we move from the awareness phase and get to the “ACTION PHASE”? Are we going to settle at the awareness level of the issue? Awareness does not tackle the topic. Sure, a great start, but if that is where it ends, do not be surprised when things are back to the status quo just a couple of days later.

I would much rather spend several hours with smaller groups of students to address, tackle, and understand the issue than two hours of Rah Rah cheering with little to no change!

To truly tackle the issue of Bullying, it will not be taught in one or even two hours to make the slightest of difference. It takes time, but people are often not prepared to put in the time! Moreover, some only offer these large gathering cheering events to satisfy their egos and get those accolades they want?

And then there are the statistics, which again are essential, but just quoting them without any additional steps robs people of any advice if they are being bullied or searching for someone to help with Bullying at their school, home, or company. Want a couple of statistics that should startle everyone? Here, according to http://www.stopabully.ca/bullying-statistics.html:



A study on Bullying by the University of British Columbia, based on 490 students (half female, half male) in Grades 8-10 in a B.C. city in the winter of 1999, showed:

  • 64 percent of kids had been bullied at school.
  • 12 percent were bullied regularly (once or more a week).
  • 13 percent bullied other students regularly (once or more a week).
  • 72 percent observed Bullying at least once in a while.
  • 40 percent tried to intervene.
  • 64 percent considered bullying a normal part of school life.
  • 20-50 percent said Bullying could be a good thing (makes people tougher, is a good way to solve problems, etc.).
  • 25-33 per cent said Bullying is sometimes OK
  • 61-80 percent said bullies are often popular and enjoy high status among their peers.

In the workplace, here is an excellent site to check out:


Another discussion that comes up with some school administrators is that SAFE International teaches self-defence, not Anti-Bullying, so how could we possibly address the topic? Admittedly, I am not a fan of the term self-defence because the majority of people immediately think of martial arts, fighting, or some other form of physical retaliation as to what we would teach. Again, this is far from the truth. Still, yes, if several steps to recognizing, avoiding, or de-escalating Bullying have failed, the topic of physically defending oneself is an option unless one is more worried about the school or companies liability issues before the safety of their students or employees.


So, in closing, I urge everyone to seek reputable companies or instructors who can seriously address the topic of what Bullying is, how it presents itself, how to avoid or handle it with a focus on the individuals experiencing it and doing it! Treating the topic in general terms will not produce any measurable results when it is a human topic. Still, if we treat it as a social topic knowing every human is unique and has different life experiences, we may have a chance.  

Keep SAFE! 

Chris Roberts

Managing Director, SAFE International