What is your emotional state right now? Are you feeling lonely, depressed or perhaps angry? Maybe you witnessed bullying. Bullying might seem like a kid’s issue, but it affects many Americans and has long run repercussions. A behavioral pattern shows that “The higher levels of violence that appear in newspaper headlines rarely emerge without numerous warnings from less extreme behaviors. Teasing, harassment, ostracism, and bullying which have consistently been associated with the heightened anger” (Carney et al. 93). A person can be tolerant to a certain level if the accumulation of feelings or stress is not managed properly, it means further problems, and somehow the rage has to be released, sadly it often involves other people. A problem like bullying has to be addressed since the first encounter, not when damage has been made, at that point, any proposals would not be as viable. For this reason, is crucial to find ways to solve this social issue that has been discussed for years but does not seem to be properly taken care of. Schools tend to be the place where bullying occurs the most, where apparently advice is often given to the victims and the bully is punished. Thus, teachers should be trained in how to detect and manage bullying more effectively.
A key factor to solve bullying is to identify it. An uncommon definition of ‘bullying’ is described as the repeated aggressive behavior for a period of at least three months (Schafer et al. 323). Bullying is not necessarily about violence, but dominant behavior. It can be verbal, like teasing, intimidation, or insults. It can also be social rejection or humiliation. Moreover, with the increasing use of social media, a new type of bullying emerged and is called cyberbullying. Bullying psychologically affects both: victim and bully. Kids who are bullied develop depression, anxiety, have suicidal thoughts, stay lonely, lose interest in hobbies, and decrease their academic performance. Kids who bully are likely to use drugs, engage in an early sexual activity, have criminal convictions, and alcohol abuse (“Prevention”). These psychological marks aggravate as the person grows up, implicating more problems, and more people. Comparable to a snowball effect. One might think that bullying is worse during childhood, but that is not the case. According to the study conducted by Schafer, et al found that “In primary school bullies are more likely to be rejected than victims, while in secondary school victims are more likely to be rejected than bullies” (326). Younger kids have an innocent mentality, they are not as judgmental as adults. When reaching puberty, adolescents might feel insecure about themselves and try to seek ‘approval’ from their peers. At some point in life, ‘social status’ starts to matter. If the bully has gained popularity in the school, they are less likely to be perceived negatively by his peers (Schafer et al. 327). This deviates rejection of the victim, someone other students might not even know his or her name. Hence, the question that is now raised is to know why bullies torment a person that differs from them.
Some characteristics that may fit into the bully character, include “family problems, poor parent role models, suffering physical and emotional abuse at home, inappropriately perceiving hostile intent in the actions of others, and having to deal with the resentment and frustration they create in their peer groups” (Carney et al. 97). Such problems explain the lack of anger control. Since they live in a hostile environment, from their perspective, treating an individual aggressively is normal. In addition, when other adolescents support their bullying, it helps build a higher self-esteem by appearing ‘cool’ to peers. Bullies are arrogant and adopt a narcissistic attitude to be praised, losing empathy. They can also bully to relieve their stress or as an act of jealousy. Violence is a way to get what they want. Yet, when a victim takes the courage to discuss the problem to an authority, in this case, a teacher. Bullies get scared of being caught and treat the victim worse to ensure the victim does not speak against them.
Teachers might not differentiate signs of bullying from occasional teasing if they do, it can have caught them off guard from how to handle the situation. In a research was found that “62% of middle school students and 57% of high school students believed that teachers made bullying situations worse when they intervened, and 52% of students at both levels reported that they had observed adults at school ignoring a bullying incident” (Yoon et al. 92). This is a problem because it reduces the chances for the victim to stop being bullied. The bullied can feel hopeless and generate more emotional problems. A comfort talk is not enough, anti-bullying measures have to be taken. The perceptions of professors regarding bullying can be an issue too. It has been verified that teachers frequently perceive aggressive behavior coming from boys as part of their nature and hold the belief that boys are more resilient; whereas female teachers thought of bullying as a bigger issue based merely on the act. Race and ethnicity of the students shape the way how they perceived the bully and victim (Yoon et al. 95). Students have to be treated equally, stereotypes worsen bullying. If a teacher ignores the situation becomes a bystander also. School principals who assume that students are in at ‘all moments’ safe environment, put less time and effort in enhancing anti-bullying measures.
Although, with the vast incidents that bullying causes, like suicides among the young. More schools over the world are implementing anti-bullying policies. Fran Thompson, who dedicates to research strategies of anti-bullying said, “There isn’t one type of good practice. Not all schools are the same, and nor are all students, so there’s never going to be just one answer to tackling bullying”(Ratcliffe). This is true, bullying cannot be stopped quickly in the same way for all schools, however, it can be solved gradually by explaining to young kids to have healthy peer relations, and parents should engage with their kids and school more often. In the United States, the zero-tolerance policy has shown to be “less effective in the classroom and in the life of the student” from what intended to (Hyder and Hussain). The zero-tolerance policy is for any disruptive behavior, including bullying. The policy causes more school suspensions, which can be seen as avoiding the problem. This would not stop students from behaving inappropriately. A more worthwhile method is to train educators. This is something essential for an instructor since they need to understand their students to teach better. Society portrays teachers as a person who guides the young besides parents, not only a person teaching a subject. Bullying does not necessarily occur in the classroom but is stealthy. Thus, not only educators should receive training, but the rest of school staff, like the bus driver, security guards, and people serving in the cafeteria. By doing this, it diminishes any hostile environment in school. There is an official website from the U.S. government that provides online resources for educators to understand better this issue while earning credits; it is called stopbullying.gov. There are other programs that schools can opt to have regularly, such as the Olweus Prevention Program which efficacy has been evaluated. Just in Virginia, decreased the frequency of being bullied by 63%, 75% decrease of bullies, an increase in 31% of educators discussing the issue, and an 81% increase of educators actually preventing bullying (Morgan 177). This program gives a complete education to staff, student, and parent. Because bullying cannot be explained fully once or twice a year to students but be an often discussion in class. Consequently, either the victim or a bystander can be prepared to confront any type of bullying and feel free to talk to a teacher or parent. On the other hand, bullies can empathize with peers and understand gaining a friend is more satisfactory. Teachers are going to be able to prevent and guide victim and bully to resolve their problems.
In a nutshell, society should care about bullying because it can happen to everyone and at any time. If students were educated about this social issue since young, when they grew up they would have better decision-making and ethical values. When bullying has been identified, it has to be solved soon. It is not “kids being kids;” harming other people is not normal, or better said, acceptable. Just because a kid does it, should not be an excuse, nor to say, “it is how they play.” If there is no intervention, the bully is going to continue. A lot of people have the misconception that bullying has to be intervened in the presence of violence when in reality, there are many types. Words also leave scars. As said before, punishment and a comforting talk are not enough to solve the issue. If it was the case, then the government would not try to find ways to prevent it. Education is always good.
Carney, JoLynn V., et al. “Characteristics of School Bullies and Victims as Perceived by Public School Professionals.” Journal of School Violence, vol. 1, no. 3, July 2002, pp. 91-106. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=27652453&site=ehost-live.
This section of the journal talks about violence. The article gives the characteristics of the behavior of bullies and victims found. I found it useful due to the importance to recognize the grounds of the problem, as described in the document, to find an appropriate solution. The reliability of the source is adequate since it was created by members of the department of counseling.
Hyder, Narjis, and Mariam Hussain. “Zero Tolerance Policies and Bullying in the Classroom.” Association of American Educators, 20 July 2015, http://www.aaeteachers.org/index.php/blog/1504-zero-tolerance-policies-and-bullying-in-the-classroom.
The article provides the date of the policy implementation, as well as examples of what it was used. It also states that nowadays the policy has not demonstrated to decrease negative behavior. I used it to mention a solution that is being used. The source is reliable since it is an organization of professionals who want to increase the academic achievement of students.
Morgan, Hani. “What Teachers and Schools Can Do to Control the Growing Problem of School Bullying.” Clearing House, vol. 85, no. 5, Aug. 2012, pp. 174-178. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00098655.2012.677075.
The journal gives a detailed description of what are some causes of bullying and its effects. It also describes effective interventions of bullying. I used this source to describe a bullying prevention program and give evidence on it. It is an academic journal; therefore, the information was reviewed.
“Prevention at School.” StopBullying.gov, Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/at-school/index.
It mentions that to prevent bullying kids have to learn how to cope with it since an early age. It provides some guidelines on how parents can also engage with kids not only school staff. I used the information from this site to list the effects of bullying. This is an official website from the United States government, thus it must be reliable.
Ratcliffe, Rebecca. “How Do Other Countries Tackle Bullying?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 20 Nov. 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/nov/20/other-countries-tackle-bullying.
It provides examples of measures to stop bullying in other countries. It also notes the new type of bullying, cyberbullying. This website helped me to compare solutions from around the world to those that can be implemented in more American schools. This site is not scholarly since it is a newspaper, but it gives interesting information to society on how to stop bullying.
Schafer, Mechthild, et al. “Bullying Roles in Changing Contexts: The Stability of Victim and Bully Roles from Primary to Secondary School.” International Journal of Behavioral Development, vol. 29, no. 4, 01 Jan. 2005, pp. 323-335. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ815213&site=ehost-live.
It provides a definition of bullying. In addition, it makes a comparison of prevalence, stability, differential social dynamics, peer hierarchies, and peer rejection in primary and secondary school. This information served me to describe the differences in bullying according to age and risk factors. The place where the journal was published seems trustworthy, the Psychology Press.
Thomas, Jay. “Anti-Bullying Session.” Children and Youth, 28 Apr. 2014, http://www.childrenandyouth.co.uk/youth/anti-bullying-session/
The page gives a personal story of bullying. I only used it for the impacting image as a way to include pathos in the document.
Yoon, Jina, et.al. “Teachers’ Responses to Bullying Incidents: Effects of Teacher Characteristics and Contexts.” Journal of School Violence, 15:1, 2014, 91-113, DOI: 10.1080/15388220.2014.963592
The article investigates the responses of educators towards bullying and how it can affect or stop bullying. The measures of the study were: their role in the mental health of students, hostile environment, managing challenging behavior and personal experience with bullying. I found such data useful because bullying tends to occur in schools and instructors are the closest people to ask for help. It is a credible source because the authors of the journal have degrees in psychology.