“For too long, our society has shrugged off bullying by labeling it a ‘rite of passage’ and by asking students to simply ‘get over it.’ Those attitudes need to change. Every day, students are bullied into silence and are afraid to speak up. Let’s break this silence and end school bullying.” (Linda Sanchez) Bullying has been happening for an extremely long time, is there really a solution that can put an end to it? The answer is yes and we would do so by educating those around us, the community.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definitions bullying as “abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc.” (webster) There are four main types of bullying which include verbal bullying done by: name calling, threatening and disrespectful comments, Physical bullying such as: hitting, kicking, pushing, Relational bullying which involves deliberately making someone feel left out by not letting them be involved in whatever you’re doing, and lastly cyber bullying which is done by spreading false information about someone else via: email, text and/or social media.
Bullying has become such a huge problem that the National Institute of child health and human development did a study and found that “one in five children from grades 6 to 10 reported that they had traditionally bullied their classmates with 10% admitting they do it sometimes and 9% admitting to bullying at least once a week” (Cole et al., 2006). So why are so many kids bullying? Many kids find at this age it is crucial to fit in and believe by doing so is key, also helps ensure that they aren’t the victims of bullying. Another reason includes a children’s home situation. If things aren’t going well at home, or they themselves are victims of bullying by someone at home then they are more likely to do it to others, “ it has been found with families that enforce rules which encourage aggressive behaviour” (Riclan, Klicperrova, & Koucka, 1993).
There are many long term and short term effects on bullying it was found that children who were victims of bullying have a higher risk for “common somatic problems such as colds, or psychosomatic problems such as or thinking about suicide.” (Wolke and Lereya) If a child is bullied in middle childhood by the age of 18-50 years old they are more likely to have anxiety or depression and attempts of suicide. It can physically affect someone to by “bodily pain, headaches and slower recovery from illnesses” (Wolke and Lereya) Being a victim of bullying can push someone to the edge so how do we end it and prevent it from happening again? I believe the main solution to this ongoing problem is to educate. Better educating teachers, parents and children on what happens to victims of bullying, the outcomes and giving them the proper tools to handle situations can really be the change we need.
Back in 1983 the norwegian ministry of education came up with Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) the goal was to end bullying in schools with four principles which were to “have adults at school to show a positive interest and be involved in students lives, set firm limits, use non hostile negative consequences when rules are broken, function as authorities and positive role models.” (Olweus, 1993a, 2001a; Olweus et al., 2007). Teachers are the main focus and having them encourage good behavior and forming a trust with your students. Giving them a positive role model can start a change with how bullying is happening in school. Doing activities so that students can interact with each other and form bonds can actually lower bullying rates. This also creates a safe space for kids who get bullied outside of the classroom because their classmates can comfort them and give them a sense of community. Educating teachers on how to properly handle situations where a child is potentially being bullied can play a huge part on ending bullying.
Taking it further than inside the classroom and going district wide and having a code of conduct put into place by involving the community, children’s parents, etc. Being on the same page and setting a standard for children by enforcing the values of empathy, respect, and personal responsibility and setting clear consequences. Having school wide assemblies on bullying and bringing more awareness to the harm it can do to people will really open students eyes and make them think of if what they assume to be “just a joke” can do to another person. Doing this multiple times throughout a school year as well as a guest speaker or someone who can give a personal story involving bullying. Showing students a better way to handle their emotions rather than taking it out on other students by giving helpful, healthy and beneficial ways on resolving conflicts. This tool will help them in the long run not just with dealing with bullies but life skills that can help in work situations and so much more.
Kids spend an average of eight hours in school so, how do we stop bullyings such as cyber bullying, which usually occurs when kids are at home. In this scenario parents/ guardians are key. The first step for parents is being aware and knowing the warning signs that you’re kid is either being a bully, being bullied or witnessing it happening. This would be things such as sudden mood changes and behavioral changes. From the age you think it’s appropriate for your child to begin using technology, especially their own device, Monitoring their online use by knowing exactly the reasons they are using the internet for. Children in adolescence often get carried away with technology, so limiting the use of it will overall help. Teaching your kids from the very beginning appropriate ways to use technology and the inappropriate uses can help them understand and give them guidelines to follow. By being open and communicating will allow a trust to be built and will make your child feel more comfortable coming to you if something is going on.
A change needs to start, and we need to start with younger kids because they will continue to set examples for the new generations after them.We need informed and involved parents and teachers and the community to come together and end bullying. “But for bullying to stop completely, we need the kids who are growing up now to influence the generations to come. We need them to teach their kids and others positive messages so they will be able to affect this generational change.‘’ (Mendoza)
Cole, J.C.M., Cornell, D.G., & Sheras, P. (2006). Identification of school bullies by survey methods. Professional School Counselling, 9, 305-313.
Mendoza. Toward a world without bullying. uOttawa.
Olweus, A useful evaluation design, and effects of olweus bullying prevention program. Psychology, crime & law. Dec. 2005 https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Dan_Olweus/publication/282827799_The_olweus_bullying_prevention_programme_Design_and_implementation_issues_and_a_new_national_initiative_in_Norway/links/56f921e808ae38d710a2f8d2.pdf
Sanchez. LBGT youth need our voices to stand up against bullying. April 2014
Stop bullying. U.s Department of health and human service. Sep. 2017
Webster’s collegiate dictionary. 11th ed. 2003.
Wolke et al. Long Term effects of bullying. Open access. Feb. 2015.