Bullying affects every aspect of a person. Their mental and physical health, their emotional stability and their social interaction with the world around them. It also has a direct impact on their self image and how they perceive themselves in relation to other students. While many students can eventually overcome being the butt of others jokes or thought of as unpopular, others will carry the stigma for years, never getting over the rejection and feelings of inadequacy. Learn about Bullying in School Now!
Bullying in School: What Makes A Bully
Bullying in school rarely fits a set pattern. Teachers, straight A students, athletes, any type of person can be a bully. Characteristics vary from case to case and no particular pattern or behavior is found in every single act of bullying.
- Shows little concern for the feelings of others
- Possibly exposed to physical, emotional or psychological violence in the home
- Physically strong, in most cases
- Overly aggressive when provoked or taunted
- Continually disregards rules
- Popular students bully others who they believe are inferior
- Unpopular students who feel left out and isolated
- Don’t know how to express frustration and anger in a constructive manner
There is no single set of circumstances that push a student or adult into becoming a bully. Several factors often contribute to how a person reacts during specific situations. The fact that they capitalize on another person’s weakness does not mean they are completely mean or evil. In some instances, their is no ill will or malicious intent involved. After the act is behind them, the person may feel remorse and try to make it up to their victim. In other situations, the bully may not know how to apologize and goes about their business as if nothing happened.
Students who feel superior, either physically or intellectually, to other students normally show no remorse at all for their actions. Children and teens involved in bullying in school often consider themselves above others and don’t believe rules apply. They may become extremely upset if confronted or made to apologize, believing they did nothing wrong and should not be held accountable. Children whose parents allow them to do whatever they please at home, will often continue those behaviors at school, defying teachers and other authority figures.
Individuals who are seen as even-tempered and well-organized can have an extremely bad day. When things happen that are out of their control, they may lash out at others around them, releasing their frustration and anger. While the acts of aggression may mimic those of a bully, this type of person will feel immediate remorse and apologize profusely. Realizing too late that their words and actions were hurtful doesn’t take away the damage done to the relationship.
Teachers and faculty members are often guilty of bullying in school settings.Teachers who use harsh teaching tactics are often called bullies. While many temper their abrasive attitude in the classroom, others graduate to become bullies of the worst kind. They take the power awarded to them as a teacher and begin to use it as a tool to forcibly impress the desired results on their students or athletes. While they often produce winning athletes and students who excel on the playing field and academically, there is a high price to be paid.
Bullying in schools can take many forms. Coaches bully their players into performing competitively. Teachers degrade students, often as a means to get them to try harder to achieve their goals. Students bully students, as well as teachers, in an attempt to prove their superiority or get something they want. No matter what form it takes, it is wrong. The only way to prevent bullying is to understand what makes a bully, helping individuals to overcome the victim mentality and to be proactive when it comes to tolerating bullying behavior.
Bullying in School: The Victim Mentality
The victim mentality encompasses several things. First, it often stems from a person’s inability to socialize or fit in with other groups. They begin to look at being different as a bad thing. Instead of capitalizing on their differences and thinking of them as unique, a vulnerable person will look at those differences as negative aspects of their character. When they begin to look down on themselves or become overly entrenched in the things that set them apart, they become prime targets for bullies.
KidsHealth.org suggests that the goal of a bully is to find a person’s weakness and use it to their advantage. Once they know how to hurt or embarrass another person, they will do it repeatedly until the desired reaction is shown. For the most part, a true bully attacks people around him (or her) because it makes them feel better about themselves. They have no real concern for anyone else and don’t really care about any consequences they face. They begin to feel justified, and with those feelings come guiltlessness.
Most times, bullies have a reason behind the things they do. There is a distinct method to their madness that spurs them on to continue perpetuating the hurt and discomfort they enjoy doling out to others. A true bully takes great joy in the suffering and humiliation of others. They revel in it. They are constantly on the lookout for targets to which they can focus their aggression. Some who are enduring the same treatment at the hands of others, will often pass that treatment on to others so they feel they have some form of control, if not over their own life, then over the life of someone else.
According to Education.com, bullies target people who exhibit many of the following characteristics:
- Stand out because of their differences
- Lower class
- Physically weak or frail
- Those who are perceived to be “unattractive” by the bully’s standards
- Individuals who have something the bully wants (knowledge, toys, misc., etc.)
- Individuals who are mentally slow or have a learning disability
- Individuals who are handicapped
- Individuals who have a low self-image
- Individuals who have few friends
Bullying in school often takes place out in the open. In a school setting, a bully has an audience which not only heightens their excitement, but also increases the level of embarrassment of the person being bullied. The victim mentality begins to take hold when the person being attacked starts to play the role of the victim. This normally begins to occur when the bully begins to incorporate other people into the process.
When a person begins to take on the victim mentality, they often begin to tolerate and accept being attacked. In essence, because they are allowing it to continue, they begin to accept their fate. The more they allow the bullying to go on, the worse it will get. A person who has been victimized repeatedly, often begins to assume their is nothing they can do to stop it. Their tolerance to one bully marks them as willing targets for others, creating a never ending spiral.
Bullying in School: Breaking the Victim Mentality
A person can choose to shed the victim mentality whenever they decide to. It is not an easy process, but it is one worth taking on. The choice to not be a victim comes from within. It is the final realization that, as a person, they deserve to be treated better. Taking that first step is sometimes the most difficult part of the process. After the first steps are taken, the person will realize they no longer think like a victim. Instead they continually find new ways to survive. Remaining a victim can make them feeling weak and ineffective, while being a survivor denotes strength and power over their enemies.
For individuals who have few friends, making new ones will help to create a support system. They can also talk to teachers and guidance counselors to find out what they can do to better protect themselves from the aggressive outbursts of the bullies who attack them. Many of the steps they can take start with changing how they perceive themselves. Discovering and showcasing their strengths instead of constantly displaying their weaknesses.
The victim mentality is constantly being perpetuated through continual attacks by the bullies. A student who can begin to put himself in situations where the bullying does not produce the desired result, will eventually be eliminated as a productive target. The more self-confidence they gain, the less like a victim they become. The strength that comes with being a survivor will often put the bully on retreat. Most bullies are not used to others standing up to them or calling their bluff.
Victims who begin to show strength, either through actually rebellion against the bully or open defiance, may face physical repercussions. While no one will actively suggest fighting, a victim who begins to understand the importance of self-defense may be able to diffuse the situation if they stand their ground. Taking a self-defense course is not something everyone will consider, but as a last resort, will give the victim a small amount of control over their own destiny when it comes to building their self esteem and giving them self confidence.
Victims may choose to take advantage of counseling or joining an anti-bullying program. Bullying in school is on the rise. Over 75% of most students have admitted to a parent, teacher or other person of authority that they have experienced some type of bullying. Instead of choosing to be a victim, students who are constantly being targeted could gather together and form support systems for one another.
Anti-bullying programs are designed to show the victims of bullying that there are others who have been where they are and found a way to overcome the situation. By banding together, they can discuss options that are available to them, both as a group and as individuals. In situations where the bullying as turned to outward displays of physical violence, members of the group can support the victim’s decision to go to the authorities. Sometimes, just the fact that there are people willing to go along for an interview or meeting with law enforcement offers a sense of protection, the victim may not get from anywhere else.
Breaking the cycle associated with the victim mentality takes work and determination. In most cases, it will not happen overnight and the victim will still experience some feelings of self doubt. The key to overcoming the situation, however, is the determination and desire to succeed. Their willingness to rise above the situation and become a stronger, person will be what drives them forward to face the challenge.
Bullying in School: How A School Setting Creates Vulnerability
Schools bring together every kind of personality and character and place them in boxes for several hours a day in an organized and structured environment. This can be beneficial in many ways. It can also be detrimental. When forcing so many personalities in one area for that long of a period on a regular basis, there are bound to be conflicts. The majority of those “conflicts” aren’t worth worrying about. They appear and are resolved without much thought.
Other conflicts, however, are constantly brewing under the surface. They simmer and fester as tensions build and result in outbursts of verbal or physical aggression. The constant turmoil created by tensions between specific students or groups of students sets the stage for bullies to begin their assault. If situations aren’t addressed in a timely manner, they can eventually disrupt the learning process for all of the students, not just the few involved in a specific incident.
Stopbullying.gov suggests that administration and faculty members must constantly be on the lookout for behaviors that could lead to bullying or other unfavorable behaviors. Interaction with the students on a regular basis will provide them with a good look into what is normally going on within the walls of the school. That isn’t always enough, however. Closely monitoring after school and extracurricular activities is also important, especially when bullying is reported after school hours.
Schools are responsible for monitoring student behavior during school hours, as well as any other activity that is school related. This includes field trips, away games held at different schools and any activity on school grounds that does not take place during normal school hours. Parents and teachers alike, must shoulder some of the responsibility for the children at any given time. When bullying occurs, it must be reported, no matter what time of day or night. If it occurs at any school related function, school officials must be notified.
Diversity in relation to students implies that the differences between students can be quite large. In some cases, that is true. The majority of students don’t normally try and set themselves apart from others. They like the same music, enjoy the same activities and basically meld together as a group quite well. In a large majority of the cases reported, the bully and victim find themselves at opposite ends of the scale. Their differences are so extreme that there is little middle ground that either one chooses to readily occupy.
The school environment can be an excellent breeding ground for bullies for the simple fact that they can get lost in the multitude of other students and events that are continually moving around them. This happens quite often in large school systems where several thousand students are present on a daily basis. While the bullying may occur out of sight, it does not mean it will go unnoticed. Often times, several people may witness the incident, but few will report it either out of fear of the bully or the fact that they just don’t want to get involved.
One of the ways to reduce the number of opportunities for bullies to isolate their victims, is to remove barriers between the different types of students. This is easier said than done, but it can be accomplished with enough incentive and creative minds who are willing to accept the challenge. Many of the barriers are invisible, but they are strong enough to divide entire groups of students. Removing them, both seen and unseen, levels the playing field for all students.
Barriers associated with knowledge and learning skills can cause great divides between students who excel and students who do not. The best way to eliminate this barrier altogether is to encourage the students with the academic capabilities to help the students who struggle. Offer extra credit. Encourage interaction through study groups. and learning centers. Students often want to know what they will get for their efforts.
Create a rewards program of sorts. Offer students a chance to earn awards for specific achievements, such as “Most Influential” or “Improved Citizenship”. These awards may seem hollow at first, but they will look good on a resume or entrance letter that accompanies an admissions application to a favored college. The goal is to increase self-awareness and improve self-esteem. Students who are continually told they have value will begin to believe it.
One of the biggest areas where bullies excel is in athletics. Athletes are strong, powerful and self confident. Extremely skilled athletes are often given “passes”, no matter their grades or how inappropriate their behavior. Coaches will often put off punishing a star player until after the season is over so it does not affect the team’s ability to win the big game. This sets a bad example for all involved and allows the athletes to go about their business without any accountability.
Removing the barriers in athletics programs can be accomplished by encouraging every student to pursue some type of fitness goal. Even if they do not choose to participate in a sport, they will be able to interact with athletes who can help them properly use the weight machines or learn better exercising techniques. For individuals who do not have the skill or strength to be on the team, there are other jobs they may be able to do. Manager, equipment manager and statistician are all positions that need to be filled for a team to be effective and successful.
Encouraging interaction between all students helps to bring down the barriers that are often built unintentionally. While there will always be some barriers in place, removing those that tend to create dissension and segregation is of the utmost importance. School faculty members need to foster better relationships between students. Encourage students with differences to interact and learn all they can about one another. Foreign exchange students come to the United States to learn about the myriad of cultures that are present on a daily basis. Students who go to the same school can employ that same principle and learn about others who are unique and close at hand.
Bullying in School: Anti-bullying Campaigns
With the introduction of anti-bullying campaigns and groups, students are constantly on the lookout for signs of bullying. Even if the victim is not strong enough or willing to report the incident, someone else will. Leaders of anti-bullying campaigns will often seek out individuals they believe are being harassed and offer them assistance in whatever way they feel most comfortable with.
Individuals who are actively involved in campaigns to stop bullying encourage others to step up and report bullying activities. People often assume that if they are considered a “snitch” by the bully, they will become their next target. Anti-bullying groups offer support to those who will go the distance by being there when they need them. Group members will go with them and be there for moral support, as well as offer the proverbial strength in numbers.
Many schools today actively support anti-bullying programs and campaigns in their schools. This gives the administration and faculty members the ability to have a broader range within the school setting to find out what is going on and what needs to be done to correct certain situations. As a school program, students who lead the group are constantly in communication with school counselors, teachers and other authority figures who can address situations as they occur.
While anti-bullying campaigns and programs will not completely stop bullying in schools, they will make a huge dent in the statistics if the programs follow through with their intended goals. The key to their effectiveness is keeping on top of the program’s objectives. Assisting students who have been bullied with reporting the incident, offering support and enforcing a solid, zero-tolerance policy will ensure the programs success.
Advocating for victims is only part of the solution. The other part is addressing the issues that caused the bully to lash out in the first place. Understanding why the bully is acting the way they are may be half of the battle. Many will refuse help. Others will continue to lash out. Some may jump at the opportunity to tell their story and be heard. No matter why they are acting the way they are, getting to the bottom of the issue will help counselors find a way to alter the situation and create a more peaceful school environment.
Bullying in School: Creating A Safe Environment
One of the best ways to create a safe environment is to keep the lines of communication open. A student is more apt to report an incidence of bullying if they know they will not be laughed at, rejected or ignored. Victimized students are also fearful of being labeled a “snitch” or “tattletale”. Bullies will often threaten their target with whatever they believe will scare them the most. To overcome that type of fear, counselors and teachers must be prepared to take appropriate actions to keep the bullied student safe.
Educate students and teachers on what bullying looks like in its varying forms. Teachers must know what to do if they witness a student being bullied. They should be adequately trained to help diffuse the situation and to maintain a safe atmosphere for all students who are present at the time. Students must also be taught how to safely respond to a situation. Informing them of who to contact or reach out to if a bullying incident is witnessed is also important.
Inform students, teachers and parents about school policies on bullying. This is a proactive measure that will often times deter potential bullies from targeting other students. While it may not resolve the issue entirely, it can help reduce the risk of it occurring. Many schools hand out copies of their anti-bullying policies at the beginning of the school year. Most schools often post the policies at various places within the school as a constant reminder that bullying in any form will not be tolerated.
Teach value in oneself. Students who have little self esteem, often get that way because they have no one to tell them otherwise. In some cases, home life is not always rose, leaving them to wander through life not knowing exactly where they stand. Teachers who take a few seconds each day to remind their students how valuable they are can make more of a difference than they will ever realize in a student’s life. Students who understand they have value, are more likely to not allow themselves to be pushed around or bullied.
Schools who have implemented anti-bullying programs and campaigns normally have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullying in schools and at school sponsored events and activities. The only way for this type of policy to be effective is if it is strictly enforced. This means the same penalty applies across the board no matter who commits the offense. A clear and defined understanding of what constitutes bullying is also needed so there is little room for discussion as to what constitutes a punishable offense.
Most zero tolerance policies have different levels of authority. In some cases, the teacher or principal can decide on a proper punishment for the offender. Incidents that disrupt the operation of the school or cause problems that resonate through the entire school structure are normally addressed by the school board or the administrator. The third level of authority is law enforcement. When bullying escalates to the point where a person is injured or property is damaged, law enforcement officers will be brought in and the entire matter goes outside of the school system to be handled.
Include the parents in the equation. Many parents don’t have a clue as to how their children act at school. Even parents who are active in their students’ lives may be missing the proverbial boat when it comes to inappropriate behavior and bullying. It is often a shock to parents when their son or daughter brings a note home that says they are in trouble for bullying. While they may not have been raised to be disrespectful, peer pressure and the need to compete with others in a school setting can cause kids to do unexpected things.
One of the most positive ways to fight bullying is to encourage interaction. Getting students to interact with one another can be like mixing oil and water. Implementing tutoring policies, creating groups where students with different ideas can get together and interact with one another and pairing students together for different projects helps to put everyone on the same level. Students who are struggling to understand certain subjects can be sent to work with higher achieving students who are willing to tutor others in their spare time.
Bullying in schools is not a new topic of interest. To the contrary, bullying has been around since the beginning of the time. Survival of the fittest has turned many high school campuses into a battle ground. It doesn’t have to be that way. Teaching children and young adults to embrace their differences is easier said than done. It can be done with effort and dedication. Stressing that if a person can’t say something nice about someone, they should just walk away is an ideal remedy. It doesn’t always work, though, so having a back up plan that involves anti-bullying strategies and campaigns is extremely helpful.
Implementing sound measures that define what is appropriate and what is not is also beneficial for all involved. Setting the ground rules and strictly adhering to them will also establish boundaries for both students and adults. Close monitoring and proactive measures are important tools in every school’s fight against bullying.
Sources: http://kidshealth.org/kid/grow/school_stuff/bullies.html, http://www.education.com/topic/school-bullying-teasing/, http://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/at-school/