Andrew is a 5th grader who is constantly being summoned to the school Principal’s Office because of being frequently involved in a lot of troubles between his classmates and other students in the school. Andrew is 10 years old, but his physicality appears to be older than his age making him the biggest in his class. His appearance intimidates most of his classmates, which is one of the reasons that none of Andrew’s classmate dares to stand against him because they are afraid to be hurt by Andrew. Andrew’s parents have separated when he was just six years old and now lives with his mother and two younger sisters. Andrew witnessed the violence inside his own home as he grows up watching his father coming home drunk and constantly beating his mother. Since then, Andrew has shown prominent instances of aggressive behavior towards the people around him. He tend to show disrespectful behavior towards his teacher, profanity, abusive attitude towards other children and ultimately, bullying his classmates to the point of injuries being inflicted to his classmates. The school principal is very concerned about Andrew’s behavior, she attempted to contact Andrew’s mother several times, but the mother always misses the meeting with the principal due to conflict of schedule with her job. The school principal decided to take the matters in her own hands by meeting with the school guidance counselor and they employed the help of a behavior expert for professional intervention. The mother agreed to the principal’s proposal and expressed her consent though a response letter. Before the intervention, the principal together with the guidance counselor had a meeting with the child behavior expert to discuss Andrews’s behavioral problem. The meeting resulted to drafting of an intervention plan that will include assessment, a series of counseling sessions with Andrew, meetings with his mother every weekend at Andrew’s home, observations and follow-ups to determine Andrews’s progress in the intervention process.
Bullying assimilates similar behavior on other children, thus allowing the bullied to either develop low self-esteem to depression, but the bullied might also adopt the same behavior from the bully and insinuate the level of aggressiveness towards others. Therefore, this intervention plan will serve as a model case for the school-wide implementation of an anti-bullying program. Although bullying is a manifestation of an aggressive behavior, prevention efforts should be implemented on a wider scale and not only focus on individual cases of bullying in order to create a healthier social and emotional environment inside the school.
The main issue about Andrew is his behavior, which manifests in him bullying other children. It encompasses aggressiveness and lack of sensitivity to his peer student’s psychological and physical being. Bullying is a systemic problem that insinuates mixed perception of attitudes and beliefs about the appropriateness of a person’s treatment of others that are entrenched, which is often influenced by adult modeling (Allen, 2010). Changing one’s bullying and aggressive attitude is not a simple task and often require long period of intervention. Therefore, this plan will constitute an intervention system that will comprise of assessment, incident reporting, the actual intervention process, follow-up process and re-assessments. In that sense the appointed interventionist will first conduct an assessment of Andrew’s behavior with the school principal and the guidance counselor as the observant and Andrew’s mother will the be a respondent for sensitive information that are not appropriate for Andrew to discuss. The objective of the assessment is for the interventionist to determine the root cause of the problem.
The assessment plan starts with a preliminary interview of Andrew’s mother with the interventionist. This is to establish the history and underlying cause of Andrew’s behavioral demonstration. A set of questionnaire will be administered to Andrew’s mother and the responses in both the questionnaire and oral interview will be used as an important factor in planning the intervention process. The next step is to assess Andrew using the PRQ (Peer Relations Questionnaire), it is designed to assess the three dimensions of how Andrew interact with his fellow students and his tendency to inflict risk on his peers. Scale rating will also be applied in the assessment process to be administered by the interventionist. The questions in will include assessment of the frequency of demonstrating actions such as upsetting other kids, making them scared, impose threats and to engage on fights with peers that can easily beat. The responses will be gauged from “never” to “often”. Positive factors will also be measured such as Andrew’s tendency to help others, help other children being bullied, can establish social relationship and share things. Again, the rating scale from “never” to “often” will be the basis of the assessment results.
The gathered information by the interventionist will be used for the first part of the assessment. The second phase of the assessment will employ clinical tests in which Andrew will undergo a much rigorous testing phase with a team of clinicians to further assess prevalence of underlying psychological disorders. After, a clinical test it was found that Andrew is suffering from conduct disorder, which encompasses repetitive and persistent behavior patterns that violates the rights of other major age-appropriate peers (DSM IV-TR, 2000, p. 93). The clinical findings together with the acquired information from Andrew and his mother through the administered questionnaire and interview suggest that the cause of Andrew’s bullying is related to the difficulty in following proper social conduct.
Development and Implementation of Intervention Plan
The intervention plan will compose of preliminary steps that will require a joint effort of the school administrators and the parent. On the part of the school administrators, this includes participation of Andrews’ teachers who are appointed to do the reporting. The teachers will observe Andrew for his classroom behavior throughout the entire intervention process and the teachers will need to fill out a short form (see Appendix 1). The report form will also serves as reference of bullying situations, responses of the party involved and the immediate resolution given by the teacher. Andrew’s mother to record any instances of Andrew bullying his two younger sisters or other children in his neighborhood will use the same reporting form. The report made by Andrew’s mother will be discussed with the interventionist during the weekend meeting. Meanwhile, the interventionist will also monitor the reports made by Andrew’s teacher on a regular basis during the course of the intervention to determine Andrew’s progress in the program.
The other part of the intervention program will follow the evidence-based approach that will address Andrew’s Attention Deficit and Conduct Disorder. In order to create a program that is conducive for Andrew, the following strategies will be recommended.
Part I. Preventive Approach
With Andrew’s age, it is still appropriate to have someone accompany him or meet him from the school driveway and escort him going inside the school building. This is to ensure that Andrew will remain calm as he enters the classroom. With it comes to performing classroom activities, Andrew should be provide with his own time alone or provide a quiet working place particularly when is he over stimulated to enable him to focus on his task. The teacher should also reconsider revising the seating arrangement placing Andrew in the front row near the teacher to ensure that Andrew is made aware of an adult’s presence to minimize his impulses. Modifying activity expectations would also help in the process because changes in the activity to get aligned with the need to provide adequate attention towards Andrew. This will also give him a chance to succeed in the challenges and in return will boost his self-esteem.
The use of picture sequence card or chart will help him anticipate transitions in the lesson; this will also lessen his agitation towards lessons that he cannot pick up easily or having difficulties with. Forming a line when going to other places in the school with the entire class would require the teacher to assign Andrew with a task such as carrying something or ask every student to give themselves a hug while walking in the hall. It would also help if Andrew will be place in close proximity with the teacher. This will minimize the chances of Andrew making unnecessary contact with his classmates. Leaving a child diagnosed with conduct disorder gets bored easily and the lack of diversion will lead to him picking on other kids due to boredom.
Part II. Reinforcement and Encouragement of Appropriate Behavior
After successfully keeping Andrew calm and his impulses are constantly minimized, the next step is to ensure that he is still able to responds to verbal redirection. The following approach in this part encompasses preventive measures to prevent Andrew’s misconduct to escalate. Verbal queuing will help not only Andrew as well as his classmates in understanding positive expectations. For example, in order for the teacher to catch Andrew’s attention and encourage him to participate and behave properly the teacher can say “I will give marshmallows to kids that will share the toys with everyone” or “I will give 15 more minutes for lunch to someone that will behave the most during the quiz”. Providing ample time to prepare for the next transition and or changes in an upcoming routine will deliver a sense of urgency on Andrew, which will divert his attention to focus more on the time restrained task. For example, “clean up your desks in 5 minutes 4 minutes to go 3 minutes 2 minutes times up!” Praising positive attitudes and small accomplishments will also help Andrew to gain more confidence, statement such as “Good Job to Andrew for finishing first, you will be ready to snack and you will get extra 15 minutes for your lunch break”. Catching Andrew doing a good job and unexpected praising him for doing so will further insinuate reinforcement of positive attitude.
Redirecting Andrew towards positive expectations such as asking him for his plans for the next project will draw him further to focus on the most important tasks in his studies rather than letting him spend his time infiltrating the personal space of his classmates. Positive reinforcement delivers a sense of urgency, focus and imposition of higher self-esteem to Andrew and to the rest of other students that demonstrates the same behavior. In addition, redirection limits the chances of Andrew to perceive chances of making unnecessary discussions with his classmates, which will eventually lead to him bullying the other kids. Less talk with other children during individual tasks, more social engagement and interactive activities during group work will enable Andrew to develop a good perception of socialization that is more appropriate and less risky for the rest of the children.
Part III. Suppression of Inappropriate Behavior
In order to determine if Andrew complies with the previous steps of the intervention or realized that they are not effective, the next step is to directly address the inappropriate behavior. This is the level two of the intervention program, which will reinforce the use of firmer approach through eye contact, firm voice together with time will enable Andrew to comply with the technique. The intervention approach in this level will feature the use of more direct approach such as clear nonverbal cueing in terms of assisting simple and short phrases. For example, hand signals, more prominent facial expressions and statement such as “kindly put your books under your desks”. Giving directives that encompasses a choice will insinuate the exercise of autonomy on the part of Andrew. Using firmer, but gentle tone in giving orders will help the most in this level of intervention particularly in giving precision requests. For example, “you can choose to sit in front quietly and I will make you the leader of the day or you will sit at the back for a few minutes”. Setting clear limitations on what to Andrew can and cannot do and explaining the consequences of his choices will enable him to make better decisions in which when successfully instigated will render him to develop positive outlooks in his future.
Another approach is the time traditional Time Out penalty. When Andrew’s aggression appeared to escalate causing the disruption of the class lesson, he is expected to exhibit non-compliant attitude and loud voice. During this moment, Andrew will be having a hard time to respond to redirection and make sound choices. The best way to interrupt to momentum of aggression is to impose a time out penalty. The first approach is to allow him to make a choice to calm down and take a time out for five minutes and he will be rewarded with gold stars, or continue with his behavior and he will get longer time out minutes with no gold stars. Giving a velar warning will also help to introduce the penalty for not complying and allow Andrew to make a better decision to clam down or be penalized for longer time out minutes. During the point in which Andrew appeared to be clearly out of control, the teacher can call the principal’s office to assist her controlling Andrew. The most appropriate measure at this point is to have the principal to take the matters in his own hands by imposing the time out penalty himself to Andrew. When Andrew satisfied the second stage of time out penalty he will be sent back to the room to join the class again. However, it is important that the teacher will not talk about the mistake again or rub it to Andrews nose because it will only have a more negative implication toward Andrew’s already problematic behavioral conduct.
Progress Evaluation and Follow-Up
Through interventionist observations, parent and teacher incident reports, the gathered information will be used to formulate the next instructions as the intervention program progresses. The same assessment questionnaire will be provided to Andrew to determine if there are any variations on responses before and after the imposed levels of intervention. It is important to determine the variances in the response in order to model the next approach and eliminate the elements in the intervention that are not effective. In addition, the school principal will also make sure that Andrew is getting his daily visit to the guidance counselor before or after his class for 15 minutes to ensure that he is being assessed. With coordination from Andrew’s mother, the objective is to ensure the continuum of the intervention process at home.
Intervening in Andrew’s Conduct Disorder is crucial is preventing him from bullying. The repetitive pattern of behavior perceived in Andrew can be described as imminent on children that had a traumatic experience or exposed to family dysfunction. In Andrew’s case, he witnessed his father inflicting violence to his mother. The adoption of the aggression on the Andrew is a subtype known as childhood onset in which the development of the behavior began in his early childhood. Childhood experience is a crucial factor in the development of conduct disorder and similar problems. Bullying on the other hand is a manifestation of the behavior, which becomes apparent when the child realizes that through bullying he can exercise authority and power over his peers. Therefore, Andrew have developed aggression in which interventions is paramount in the prevention process. Suppressing the aggressive behavior is imperative to the total elimination of Andrew’s bullying attitude. With the cooperation of his mother, the school administrators, the intervention hopes to deliver more positive results for Andrew’s recovery.
Allen, K. P. (2010). A Bullying Intervention System: Reducing Risk and Creating Support for Aggressive Students. Preventing School Failure, 54(3), 199–209. doi:10.1080/10459880903496289
American Psychiatric Association (2000). Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders. In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV-TR (4th ed., p. 94). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Scott, S. (2008). An update on interventions for conduct disorder. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 14, 61-70. doi:10.1192/apt.bp.106.002626