CAPSLE (Creating a Peaceful School Learning Environment) is a structured programme for tackling the problem of bullying in schools. It was developed in collaboration with colleagues at the Menninger Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine.
The programme addresses the relationship between bully, victim, and bystanders. It assumes that all members of the school community, including teachers, play a role in bullying. It aims to improve the capacity of all the members of the school community to mentalize, that is, to interpret both one's own and others' behaviour in terms of mental states (beliefs, wishes, feelings). Greater awareness of other people's feelings counteracts the temptation to bully others.
The CAPSLE programme uses five key strategies to improve mentalization in schools:
- a positive climate campaign highlighting the subjective experiences of bully, victim, and bystander;
- a classroom management plan that requires teachers to elaborate the thoughts and feelings associated with aggressive acts in the classroom;
- a defensive martial arts program based on principles of mindfulness;
- peer or adult mentorship that creates additional opportunities for reflective interpersonal interaction;
- reflection time which allows the class to consider shared immediate past experience as a group.
Through these devices, CAPSLE focuses on the mental states of all those involved in interpersonal violence (bystander as well as bully and victim).
A pilot investigation in a high-risk elementary school found the program successfully reduced the number of disciplinary referrals for aggressiveness and improving achievement test scores.
A randomized controlled trial comparing CAPSLE with (a) a program that worked only with 'problem' children and (b) treatment as usual found that CAPSLE substantially reduced aggression and improved classroom behaviour.
- Click here to download the CAPSLE manual.
- Click here to visit the Back off Bully website for more resources related to the CAPSLE programme.
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