“In today’s world, children may experience bullying, of some manner, by either being a victim, a bully or a bystander” (Bostic et al.). In the past, bullying in our schools was ignored as it was generally believed that it was a regular part of growing up. It was seen as being beneficial for the weaker children at school to toughen up, and so it was largely something that many children at school were exposed to, or unwillingly endured, through their development. And because of this perspective, bullying was viewed as harmless and was overlooked or merely passed over. Nonetheless, this traditional mindset has been proven to be the antithesis of the effects of bullying. According to researchers that conducted a national survey in the United States for the World Health Organization that included public and private schools from grades 6 to 10, “it was found that 29.9% of students had a moderate or continual participation of some form of bullying” (Nansel et al. 2096). The deep-rooted dangers of bullying are deafeningly negative. Through a large amount of research, I have found that bullying is not the harmless, natural occurrence, which for so long, many have believed it to be: “Recent statistics by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, found that one out of five children have, in some form, experienced bullying” (Warren 10). Studies have brought to light, the negative effects that bullying has on our children in school. This critical matter calls for educators and parents to take a deeper look. “Bullying is a very serious issue and it needs to be acknowledged and addressed” (Jacobsen and Bauman 1). Additionally, children at school who are bullied are suffering what they might perceive as a never ending cycle of abuse by relentless bullies and; “May experience negative long-lasting effects in their future adult lives” (Bostic et al.). Children at school who are the victims of the cycle of abuse by unyielding bullying can experience negative long-lasting effects that can lead to damage that affects them through their entire life. Mass media over the last few years has dramatically increased its attention on school-based shootings and suicides and bullying has been linked strongly as a motive behind many of these shootings, as well as suicide. It is unmistakable that bullying is a negative occurrence that is greatly impacting the lives of school-aged children. We must understand what bullying is and its different forms so sound solutions can be implemented to help mitigate and prevent bullying.
While there is no predetermined method to establish why some children become bullies and others the victims, it is possible for us to take a deeper glance; “One can look at the combination of individual, family, peer, school and broader experiences to gather a sense of experiences that may contribute to bullying and victimization” (Craig and Pepler 5). As educators and parents, the task is formidable but important; they need to be carefully trained to address the issues that arise from bullying and be able to respond with the appropriate response. Bullying is an ongoing issue that is happening where children spend the majority of their time socializing in their schools, and it happens through all grade levels; “Schools have a responsibility and training in helping all students succeed to their full potential in their academic, career and social development” (Jacobsen and Bauman 4). And though they are equipped to help children achieve academic success, their social development is hindered when they are the victims of bullying. In addition, the ratio of educators to students is numbing. Educators are constantly overwhelmed with the enormity and complexity of the bureaucracy in education and bullying is often sidelined. Consequently, the problem persists. Every day, nearly 160,000 children miss school because they are scared of bullying according to the National Education Association. It is common for students who are victims of bullying to suffer negative effects such as a decline in their mental and physical health. Mistreated students may be constantly victimized and forced to experience relentless bullying; “Children may develop low self-esteem, loneliness, eating disorders, depression, headaches, stomachaches, colds, difficulty in their sleep and suicidal thoughts and attempts” (Bostic et al.). Particularly interesting through my research was how the bully is also likely to suffer from his or her own actions as well; “The bully who inflicts so much pain may also develop a feeling of suicide and attempts” (Bostic et al.). Children in school are less likely to succeed under the unchecked abuse of a bully, this is unacceptable. It is important to be aware of the impact that bullying has on the emotional well-being of our children, as well as the effect on their academic and social development. A bully’s actions have a long-lasting effect on their victim’s life. As educators and parents, it is our moral and ethical responsibility to stand for the victims who are helpless and unable stop the cycle of abuse themselves. Educators and parents must be willing to take the opportunity to protect and strengthen the victim’s ability to ensure a fair and equitable social adjustment for the victimized children.
First, it’s important to understand how we have defined, “bullying” to have a more constructive conversation about its effects and the role each party performs in the conversation and to establish what can be done to stop it. Bullying by definition is, “An aggressive behavior that is carried out by an individual who holds or is trying to retain a dominant position over another, by intentionally inflicting physical, mental harm or suffering” (Bostic et al.). It is important to distinguish the difference between bullying from a conflict as to not confuse bullying with general school ground conflict. “Conflict is defined as arguments or disputes where the involved parties have no advantage over each other” (Bostic et al.). For example, neither party has an advantage of a greater physical size or of an advantageous social status over the other; “Bullying differs from conflict because it is a behavior or action that is repeatedly done to the victim or victims with a clear advantage” (Bostic et al.). Unlike bullying, conflict can be healthy and constructive. It is important to understand that not every disagreement is bullying, and it is important to use the right word when describing situations. Bullying invokes a strong emotional response and it’s important to associate situations in their proper context for them to maintains their validity. When conflicts arise, typically the decorum can lead to outcomes that are collectively advantageous for the parties involved.
Bullying in schools can general be categorized into four main types; physical, verbal, social and cyber; “Physical bullying may manifest as hitting or violent aggression and this form generally get are the most attention” (Jacobsen and Bauman 1). While verbal bullying may involve name-calling, put-downs, teasing, or threats of another individual, social bullying may be spreading rumors, nasty jokes, or encouraging social exclusion. And cyberbullying contains abusive texts, posts, images or videos. This appalling crisis that is taking place in our schools demands corrective action. Typically change does not come easy and this crisis is not a spectator sport. There are no innocent bystanders; we are all involved in the bullying crisis in a direct or indirect manner.
In my research, it is unmistakable that bullying has an overpowering, negative impact on the mental health and well-being of developing children; “One of the most distressing experiences for a child or adolescent is being bullied, especially when it occurs over a prolonged period of time” (Nabuzoka et al. 3). Bullying seemingly is described as a time of suffering. However, educators and parents can work together to intervene, to attempt to circumvent bullying, and when possible to provide appropriate support for children that are involved in bullying at school. This can be done regardless of whether they are involved as the victim, bully or bystander. We need to stand up for victimized school children by demanding that schools implement policies against bullying. By providing intensive educational activities educators can increase bullying awareness. And our educators should feel compelled to seek training to recognize the symptoms of bullying and we must provide them the right tools to handle the difficult situations that arise from bullying appropriately.
According to, stopbullying.gov, an online site that is managed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and works in partnership with the Department of Education and Department of Justice, one important intervention, where school educators can collaborate is establishing a school policy. “The school policy should include a mission statement, that sets an environment where it is clear and evident that school bullying, will not be tolerated” (stopbullying.gov). Establishing a policy against bullying is vital because it sets a clear tone that bullying will not be accepted. In addition, consistent school-wide rules need to be implemented as well as a seamless reporting system for students that are affected by school bullying to be able to access support without the fear of retribution.
Growing up, one common form of addressing the dangers of bullying was simply viewing a video presentation in a class setting; this was the entire bullying prevention program. The videos often lacked the ability to keep the student’s attention which would render the video presentation ineffective. Video presentations were a passive alternative to dealing with a serious crisis. It is now recommended that the most effective method to successfully create school bullying awareness is by implementing a school-wide approach prevention program that is inclusive and engaging. In implementing this type of approach, students would be participating in activities inside the classroom, as well as activities that encompass the entire student body; “The purpose is to build a culture of preventing and decreasing school bullying and also to shift the mindset and attitudes of the students that partake in school bullying, by aiding them to better understand the dangerous effects and harms that school bullying can cause” (Dake et al. 9). Students can become self-aware of how their motives, actions, and activities are impacting other students.
Bullying can happen at any place in our schools, yet one of the most common places for it happens is in the school classroom right underneath the unsuspecting eyes of the educator. Educators have close, direct contact with students and can be fundamental to the first line of defense in helping to lessen the risk of bullying. In addition, past research suggests that in general, educators feel that bullying is one of the most serious behaviors in school. However, they feel apprehensive in dealing with bullying situations at large. Equipping the educators with the right tools by providing training to bring about awareness of the different categories of bullying and the manifestation that each type of bullying presents should facilitate a stronger ability to increase their core competence. This would help them recognize different situations that they can prevent, stop or repair damage caused by bullying; “Being better prepared allows them to to identify bullying when it happens, so that immediate intervention can be initiated” (Dake et al. 73).
Being able to recognize symptoms that suggest that a student is being bullied or being a bully is important since it allows for immediate intervention. “Children that are being bullied often display symptoms such as sadness, anxiety, depression, fear, moodiness, headaches, stomachaches, sleep changes, decrease in their academics, wanting to not attend school, and suicidal thought” (Warren 22). On the other hand, the bullies also find themselves caught in the negative outcome; “Students who are being the bully may show behaviors such as getting into frequent fights and are constantly picking on or teasing other students” (Warren 22).
Throughout this research, there was an incredible opportunity to gain new insight into the unseen opportunity to help improve the emotional and physical states of school children. Much of the research findings, throughout this research, have had a focus on the prevention and interventions that seem to be specific to what we would expect when learning about the bullying crisis, the victim, and bully. On the other hand, it is astonishing to ascertain the extraordinary influential function that the bystander, plays as a positive or negative intermediate in the situation.
According to the article, Two Sides of the Coin: The Bully and the Bullied, the bystander is another participant in the act of bullying. The bystanders may, in some form, relate with the bully and find some enjoyment watching the behaviors of the bully against a victim. In addition, “The bystander may find his or herself having mixed feelings about the bully and the behaviors of the bully. In this situation, the bystander may not intervene due to the various feelings that he or she is experiencing” (Warren 49). Bystanders may also develop feelings of hopelessness, as they struggle with how to address or respond to the defenseless school bullying victims. Bystanders are also impacted by the act of bullying, even though they are not the one being bullied; “Bystanders may also show the symptom of increased heart rate, along with increased reports to staff members of experiencing negative feelings when they are amongst a bullying situation” (Bostic et al.). Though a bystander may feel powerless in the situation, it is morally imperative that they recognize the negative actions of the bully and acknowledge how it affects the victim. Turning a blind eye to the situation only makes the bystander part of the problem. Awareness is key.
Educators and parents have the responsibility to work toward creating an environment where students are aware of the dangers of bullying and give bystanders the tools to properly deal with bullies. In order to achieve this goal, educators and parents should work together to apply interventions such as collaboration toward building an effective policy for schools that works with an emphasis on safeguarding all students crafting a school-wide bullying awareness platform, promoting the appropriate training that is able to provide resources to parents and students when needed. In all, the role of educators and parents is to advocate how extreme the issue of school bullying is, and how damaging it is to the students, in order for the bullying crisis to be taken seriously. Bullying is very alarming in our schools. Nonetheless, together we can work toward bringing awareness and interventions that focus on ensuring that all students are safe and have the fair opportunity to be successful in their academic and social development.
After school allows parents to use the tools they have learned from interacting with their child’s educator into action. For a child, home is a refuge, a safe space where they don’t have to worry about the difficulties that they face at school. It’s a great opportunity to have open communication with the child. In order to ensure your child is not being bullied, you may need to initiate the conversation. Look for signs of emotional anguish and ways that they can help their child find resolution; “If your child is being bullied at school. He or she has mustered the courage to tell you about it that is no small feat, considering how humiliating it can be for kids to tell their parents” (Whitson). It’s imperative to show sympathy and provide encouragement. Take time to identify the degree of risk by asking for more information by asking simple open-ended questions. Let your child communicate freely and honestly, it’s best to just listen to gather as much information as you can. This should help you to comprehend the situation in its entirety. Be mindful when looking for an opportunity to help; also be diligent and careful. Watch your demeanor as you do not want to lead your child to answer as he or she might feel you would expect, but as your child perceived it. “Children who are bullied or victimized experience a wide range of problems if they do not receive support” (Craig and Pepler 5). Support is extremely important to a child who expresses they are being bullied. In the event that you are unable to resolve the issue, communicate your concerns with your child’s educator immediately. Do not attempt to deal with the bully or the bully’s family on your own. When talking to the educator control your emotions and remember to keep your conversation factual. Your goal should be to restore the balance for your child.
It imperative to actively parent and to engage with your children to ensure they are emotionally equipped to deal with bullying issues appropriately. “Parents are responsible for teaching their child how to control their own behavior” (Buck). Support your child, help them to improve their self-esteem by providing them with positive feedback, giving them a stronger confidence to deal with the challenges they face. Do not allow the communication to wane, and constantly look for the progress of troubled situations and resolution for conflict. Be alert for signs that the situation is becoming more severe. Become informed about what the mission statement or plan of action is in the school. Bullying is a problem and awareness, prevention and action are warranted. Educators, parents, and children can solve bullying together.
Buck, Nancy. “Calling All Parents: Stop Bulling, Start Teaching.” Psychology Today, psychologytoday.com, March 10, 2011
Bostic, Jeff Buxton, David Potter, Patel Mona. “Coping Strategies for Child Bully-Victims.” Pediatric annals, 42.4 (2013): e57-e61.
Craig, Wendy, and Pepler, Debra. “Making a Difference in Bullying.” LaMarsh report 59 (2000)
Dake, Joseph, James H. Price, Susan Telljohann, Jeanne Funk. “Teacher Perceptions and Practices Regarding School Bullying Prevention.” Journal of School Health 73.9 (2003): 347-355
Grisson, Stacey. “Nations Educators Continue Push For Safe Bully-Free Environments.” National Education Association, nea.org, October 2012
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Prevent Bullying, Prevention at School, Set Policies & Rules, The US Department of Health and Human Services, stopbullying.gov, August 2017
“Prevention at School.” Department of Health & Human Services, stopbulling.gov, April 2017
Bowers, Judy, and Patricia A. Hatch. The ASCA national model: A framework for school counseling programs. American School Counselor Association, 1101 King Street, Suite 625, Alexandria, VA 22314, 2005.
Warren, Barbara, Jones, (2011). Two sides of the coin: The bully and the bullied. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services, 10, 2011
“What Parents Can Do, National Crime Prevention Council.” ncpc.org/topics/bullying/what parents-can-do
Whitney, Irene, Debbie Nabuzoka, and Peter K. Smith. “Bullying in schools: Mainstream and special needs.” Support for learning 7.1 (1992): 3-7.
Whitson, Signe. 8 Keys to Ending Bulling: Strategies for Parents & Schools (8 Keys to Mental Health). WW Norton & Company, 2014