In fact, PBS is an inclusive approach since it becomes increasingly applicable to different segments of society such as multicultural youth and urban youth (Utley, Kozleski, Smith, & Draper, 2002). Perhaps, the reason this form of support applies so universally because it uses a collaborative team of people whom know and care about the troubled teenager. These individuals such as family members, teachers, counselors, and administrators come together and determine functionally the processes which this individual performs and which ones he/she has trouble with or, in other words, together — with the assistance of the student too — they put together a functional behavioral assessment and then determine the specific, individualized needs of the student (Carr, 2002). Based upon that particular student’s needs, the team derives approaches to help reduce the problem behavior and replace it with appropriate behavior. The reason that this process is said to have lasting effects is because it is person-centered where there is a commitment to listening to the student and the family to identify the big and small choices and preferences they have for their everyday lives (Peterson, Derby, Berg, & Horner, 2005). Along these lines, there is a commitment to the student being present and participating in this community, in gaining and maintaining satisfying relationships, and in developing personal competencies and skills. Finally, there is a belief that together the student, family, and PBS team can accomplish significant goals and outcomes to improve the engagement, productivity, and accuracy as well as the quality of life for this particular student (Rock, 2005).
In working toward the establishment of a PBS plan, the group may employ a variety of remedies to help the student learn and grow to be a successful student and citizen. Some common examples of remedies include the following interventions: modifying the environment, antecedents (such as curriculum) to behavior or to routine, tactical ignoring of the behavior, distracting the child, positive reinforcement when an appropriate behavior is exhibited, changing expectations and demands placed upon the student, explicit teaching of the child new skills and appropriate replacement behaviors, modification techniques such as desensitization, and adjusting how people around the student react to the student’s actions (Kincaid, 2002).
Research conducted over the past 15 years has looked into the effect of the types of interventions as noted above (Carr, 2002). PBS, with its person-centered and functional behavioral approach, has indeed proven to be effective in promoting positive behavior in students and schools. Appropriately implemented PBS can lead to dramatic improvements that have long-term effects on the lifestyle, functional communication skills, and problem behavior in students exhibiting behavioral issues. Specifically, a review of research on PBS over the past fifteen years with regard to its effectiveness shows that there was over a 90% reduction in problem behavior in over half of the studies; and, the problem behavior completely stopped in over 26% of the studies (United States). Given its success with individuals with behavior problems, it is therefore not surprising that in the years subsequent to its advent that PBS would be increasingly applied to individuals struggling with other impediments to social integration and achievement (Lane, Wehby, Robertson, & Rogers, 2007).
Positive Behavior Support’s Expansion into Other Domains to Improve Achievement
Oftentimes, students with violent tendencies are merely punished or expelled as the school system may be ill-equipped with regard to resources and expertise to address such issues (Scott, Nelson, & Liaupsin, 2002). However, with the implementation of PBS approaches to other troubled students, it began to make sense to apply PBS to these students. Indeed, aggressive and/or violent students often exhibit deficits in social information processing much like the students whom PBS had already been assisting. In other words, these aggressive and/or violent students are apt to misinterpret social cues as well as hostile intent on the part of others. This is especially true during times of stress. Furthermore, they are more likely than others to have some social skills deficits such as poor impulse control, low frustration tolerance, limited ability to generate alternative responses to stress, and limited insight into the feelings of self and others. As a result, social skills training can be especially crucial and helpful to these students in learning control as well as how to function appropriately in society. These students also may be frequently frustrated and unfortunately have fewer skills than more well-adjusted peers to cope with the inner sense of frustration. Additional triggers of frustration for these aggressive and/or hostile and/or violent students include the following: disorganized or inconsistent teachers, failure, boredom, lack of positive reinforcement, irrelevant curriculum, overexposure to punishment, and/or feelings of powerlessness (Oswald 2005; Smith and Sandhu 2004; Miles & Simpson, 1998).
Why should we care about students whom have the foregoing thoughts? First, we live in an era of immediate gratification wherein frighteningly people who are younger and younger have access to guns. If the violence and the rage inside a child are not addressed, then that child not only impedes his/her ability to attain success, but he/she may very likely hurt someone else in the process. According to Smith and Sandhu, much more prevalent than the mass shootings which the news has had to cover all too often, however, are relatively “low level” aggressive and antisocial behaviors which include teasing, fighting, name calling, ridiculing, threatening, and/or other forms of intimidation and harassment. These behaviors occur at an alarmingly high rate at all grade levels, although they appear to increase in severity during the middle school years (Heaviside, Rowand, Williams, & Farris, 1998; Nansel et al., 2001) In fact, research reveals that as many as 75% of adolescents, for example, indicate that they have been bullied at some time in school, and 10% to 15% are bullied on a regular basis (Banks, 1997).
In fact, bullying in the United States is becoming more and more prevalent and serious and the duties placed upon schools to solve the bullying are becoming more and more difficult to adhere to. However, there is good news on the horizon as PBS has been used successfully to work with bullies to help them understand the dysfunction and to develop appropriate social skills in the process.
The threat and problems of school violence are not restricted to students identified with emotional and behavioral disorders and students residing in inner-city or urban-poverty environments. Recent school tragedies and scenarios of violence throughout the country have affected students across geographical, ethnic, and socioeconomic boundaries. Sugai and Horner (2001) explained, “In schools across the United States, educators and families are engaged in valiant efforts to maximize academic achievement and to create and sustain safe and orderly environments for all students. These efforts are associated with a variety of initiatives related to PBS, for example, character education, safe schools and healthy environments, proactive schoolwide discipline, drug-free zones, multiculturalism and diversity, and inclusive education” (Sugai & Horner, 2001, p. 16). Thankfully, educators and counselors and parents now have a framework and an evidence-based approach, PBS, to use that has received accolades and has proven to help students grow into well-adjusted and high functioning adults.
In fact, PBS’s utility does not stop with disturbed youth or aggressive teenagers. PBS has been shown to have a positive impact in culturally diverse classes and it has been shown to provide for a greater appreciation of diversity in general through the promotion of appropriate skills and respect for individuals (Cartledge & Kourea, 2008). Furthermore, as noted by Sugai (2000), the social-emotional needs of children in urban as well as impoverished school communities place these students at risk for educational failure. For these children, successful teaching and learning models are particularly complex for the teacher because he or she must incorporate both multicultural approaches and effective positive behavior support (PBS) strategies in order to promote healthy, prosocial behaviors. In addition, in many classrooms, behavioral issues occur when there is a breakdown or an altogether failure of the teacher to gain the trust of his/her students. When there is no trust, many students are apt to disrespect the teacher, the peers, and the overall education process thereby leading to a student whom will not learn and will eventually disrupt the class such as to impede the learning process of others (Sugai, 2000). In order to circumvent issues from the student whom does not want to listen, to learn, or to participate in the educational process, Gregory and Ripski have set forth the critical notion of using PBS as a means of promoting adolescent trust in the teacher which then has positive implications upon the overall behavior and learning environment (Gregory & Ripski, 2008). In addition to helping promote diversity and trust in the classroom, PBS has also helped students with many different kinds of disabilities including, but not limited to, autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and other intellectual disabilities (Harris, 2006). Indeed, given the vast amount of research demonstrating the broad nature of PBS’s applicability, PBS is rapidly becoming a key to opening and unleashing the potential…