How We Can Help Stop Bullying
Bullying, it’s a topic that we discuss so often, and one that continues to be a problem in most schools across the country. Bullying takes many forms, and while completely eliminating it may prove difficult, it’s important that we make every attempt to stop bullying in all its forms and protect the victims and potential victims of bullying wherever possible.
We’ve taken a look at some of the best articles we could find that discuss bullying and it’s prevention to put this article together. We hope that the information herein is useful to parents, students, teachers, and other staff members as we work together to prevent bullying.
What Is Bullying?
According to stopbullying.gov bullying is any situation in which:
- A school-age person is being harassed, usually aggressively
- Their is a real or perceived power imbalance between the bully and the victim
- The behavior is repeated or has the potential to become repeated
It’s important to consider the power imbalance and repeatability of the behavior. While it’s never appropriate behavior to harass or act aggressively toward another person, to be considered bullying, the above criteria must be met.
Dosomething.org has an in depth look at 11 Facts About Bullying that are enlightening and heartbreaking at the same time. Their list of eleven facts is below, but encourage you to visit their site as they have tons of information about bullying and bullying prevention:
- Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year.
- Approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying.
- 17% of American students report being bullied 2 to 3 times a month or more within a school semester. Take a stand in your community by hosting a Bullying Policy Makeover event customizing your school’s anti-bullying policy.
- 1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will only intervene 4% of the time.
- By age 14 less than 30% of boys and 40% of girls will talk to their peers about bullying.
- Over 67% of students believe that schools respond poorly to bullying, with a high percentage of students believing that adult help is infrequent and ineffective.
- 71% of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school.
- 90% of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of bullying.
- 1 in 10 students drop out of school because of repeated bullying.
- As boys age they are less and less likely to feel sympathy for victims of bullying. In fact they are more likely to add to the problem than solve it.
- Physical bullying increases in elementary school, peaks in middle school and declines in high school. Verbal abuse, on the other hand, remains constant.
Bullying affects so many children, and as the above facts show, most students believe that it will not get better and that there is no one to help them when they are the victims of bullying. We need to work together to change this narrative so that not only are we working to prevent bullying, but also to help the victims of bullying and ensure them that there is help and that they can rely on adults for that help.
Types of Bullying
As mentioned in the introduction, bullying takes many forms. According to The National Centre Against Bullying there are four main types of bullying:
- Physical Bullying: This is the type of bullying we often view as the most pronounced and what most people think of when they think of bullying. Physical bullying can take the form of pushing, tripping, shoving, or in some cases hitting or “beating up” the victim by the bully. Physical bullying can escalate and cause serious damage if not addressed.
- Verbal Bullying: Verbal bullying includes acts like name-calling, insults, and intimidation. While verbal bullying can begin as “harmless” teasing, it often quickly turns into harassment and bullying if not checked immediately.
- Social Bullying: Spreading lies, purposeful exclusion, attempting to harm someone’s social standing, embarrassing, mocking, and other forms of repeated negative social scenarios make up social bullying. The victims of social bullying (as well as other forms of bullying) can manifest feelings of loneliness, loss of confidence, blame, low sense of self, anger, fear, depression, loss of control and confusion according to learnpsychology.org.
- Cyber Bullying: With the widespread use of social media among school-age people, cyber bullying has increased in prevalence and profile in the past several years. Cyber bullying includes several different acts, including posting negative pictures about someone, harassing them via messaging or text messaging, and logging into their profile and creating posts that will reflect negatively on them, among other activities. With other forms of bullying, the victim is usually at least safe in their home when they are away from school. However, with cyber bullying, the harassment often never stops, leading to increased feelings of helplessness, anxiety, and depression. There have been several high-profile cases where a victim of cyber bullying has committed suicide because the feelings of helplessness became to great for the victim to bear.
LearnPsychology also includes sexual bullying in it’s list of types of bullying. While this type of bullying is often less prevalent than the other forms of bullying on this list, it is not less harmful. Sexual bullying includes “gestures and statements of a sexual nature that are made to intimidate, hurt or offend someone.”
Risk factors for becoming a Bully
According to LearnPsychology, Psychologist Dan Olweus described five main risk factors for becoming a bully:
- The parents did not bond well with the child when he or she was an infant.
- Parents failed to inhibit the child’s aggression.
- Parents modeled aggression and physical force as primary problem-solving strategies.
- The child has an inborn penchant toward aggressive and impulsive behavior.
- The child is larger and stronger than other children his age.
There is no way to guarantee that your child will not become a bully. Talking with your child about bullying, and describing why it’s such a negative practice, can help. If you do find out that your child is a bully, working immediately to curtail the behavior is vital. Parents who do not work to stop their child from bullying become complicit in the bullying itself.
How to Prevent Bullying
Bullies engage in bullying behavior because they can. When an environment is created that recognizes and immediately addresses bullying, people tend to bully less. Preventing bullying begins at home. Teaching your children empathy and respect for other people is a strong building block. Also, teaching them to point out, and try to address bullying behavior by other students can be an effective strategy.
Victims of bullying often feel isolated, and it only takes one or two students to come to their aid for the bully to realize that they no longer possess a power imbalance and to leave their victim alone.
When student intervention isn’t enough, there must be trained and prepared staff members who are empathetic toward the victim of bullying, and who take their claims seriously. Staff should address the bullying with the bully, and should work to provide resolution for the situation.
Parents of victims must also be active in both identifying the signs that your child is being bullied, and addressing the bullying with both your child and the school. If your child seems agitated, depressed, anxious, or generally doesn’t want to attend school, or if you see bullying occurring on their social media, it is important to address it immediately as school-age children are especially impressionable, and bullying can take a serious emotional toll on them.
Prevention programs, such as those provided by stopbullying.gov can be an effective starting point for any school or community.
We may never be able to completely prevent bullying anymore than we can completely prevent acts of aggression in our society as a whole, but we may be able to help prevent some cases and offer support to those who have been the victims of bullying.
It’s up to us as those who watch over our children to do everything we can to prevent bullying.