It should be the goal of every school administrator to provide an environment that is safe for their students to learn and grow. Because of this, most schools have policies in place regarding student safety and school health. These are important issues that surround the topic of bullying. Bullying affects the physical and mental health of every student who attends a school where bullying is present. It also plays a huge role in whether or not students have an environment that is free of hazards, where they can learn and grow without the distraction of fear from bullies. Learn about School Health and Safety Policy!
When bullying is present in a school situation, it is often detrimental to the mental health of the students at the school. Teachers and administrators should be aware that all students in a bully situation are going to need these mental health issues to be addressed.
- Bullies: Being a bully has been linked to several mental health issues. This includes aggression, excessive anger, and anti-social behavior. They are also more likely to get into trouble with the law and abuse their spouse, pet, or children later in life. They are linked to earlier sexual activity as well. Bullying is often done as a way to have dominance over another student. This type of behavior is very anti-social for the society we live in today.
- Victims: The victim of a bully will experience several mental health issues as a result of the bullying. This can include severe anxiety and depression that can linger into adulthood. They might lose interest in certain sports or other activities they used to enjoy. They might also become more likely to skip classes or neglect academic work.
- Witnesses: Students who witness bullying may also be likely to have mental health issues that should be addressed. These might also include anxiety or depression. Witnesses of bullying are more likely to skip school. They may also be more likely to use drugs or alcohol. Often, bystanders feel helpless about the bullying, and some may fear that they will be bullied if they intercede or tell an adult.
While physical abuse is not always present in bullying, there are times when the victims of bullying are left with real, physical scars. This might be in the form of a physical altercation such as a shoving or fist fight. It could also be a bully or group of bullies physically assaulting other students. Anytime a student physically hurts or makes a person uncomfortable for the purpose of causing pain or embarrassment, it is considered physical abuse. Also, the victim of the bully may retaliate physically against a bully, even if the bullying was not in physical form. In many of the school shootings of the 1990’s, many of the gunmen were bullied at some point.
Bullying can come in many forms. Not only do bullies use emotional and physical abuse to intimidate others or get their way, they may also use property. Bullies will sometimes use property damage as a form of intimidation to other students. They may steal or vandalize the student’s property. This is also common when teachers are being bullied by one or two students. Bullies will steal or vandalize school property. This is often unfortunate for the property owner, especially in an inner-city school. When school property is involved, it is taking valuable learning resources away from the other students as well.
Suicide is often blamed on bullying. It certainly can play a role in suicide. However, it is important to remember that most children who are bullied do not commit suicide. Although there is serious mental and physical pain associate with bullying, suicide is not often directly related to bullying. It is often a trigger for a student who is suffering with other stressors in their life. This is why school administrators and counselors often try to stay attentive to each individual student’s needs. They try to treat any problems in a holistic fashion. While this is not always possible, providing a safe and healthy environment for students is often the best way to keep bullying from causing more pain to a student who is already suffering.
School Safety Policy
It is extremely important for teachers and administrators to be proactive when it comes to the safety of the students at their school. One way that many experts recommend is to come up with a school safety policy that is clearly defined. This can include several different factors. Some of these factors in safety policies are:
- On-site police officers
- Uniforms and identification badges for students
- Clear or mesh backpack requirements
Clear Safety Policy
Experts recommend that every school have a clear policy in place when it comes to the safety of their students. For example, if a student is caught intimidating another student, there should be clear and immediate consequences to their actions. Consistency is very important in this situation. Bullies need to be able to associate their actions with the consequences they receive. For this to happen, it must be immediately after the incident occurs. If a bully sees that they will get away with bullying, they will continue to bully.
One of the most efficient ways that a school can increase the safety of their school environment is to increase teacher supervision. This is important because bullies will often not act out when a responsible adult is present. Adding extra “on duty” teachers during free-time or other times of the day when bullying is the most common, can dramatically reduce instances of bullying. Also, having a law enforcement personnel present who monitors the halls of the school can be a great asset for a school that may already be struggling with bullying.
Many experts theorize that stricter punishment for students will keep them from acting out violently towards other students. Many schools have adopted what they call “Zero Tolerance Policies” in cases that involve physical assault, vandalism, and serious intimidation. Law enforcement will often help with conducting the investigations of these incidents. Sometimes, depending on the severity, students are faced with the threat of jail time for these offences. The reason for zero-tolerance policies is not just to keep bullies from hurting other students, but also to deter other students from bullying others.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Most school administrators do what they can to keep their schools free of tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. Typically, schools with the highest drugs, tobacco, and alcohol use present experience the most bullying. This could be because of the detrimental effects bullying has on mental health. These substances are also very common among individuals who suffer from mental illness. Whatever the cause, keeping drugs and alcohol out of the school zone can help reduce bullying in schools. Some schools have “drug dogs” that smell drugs in lockers. Often, law enforcement personnel who visit schools will know the signs of drug and drug dealing activity.
Almost nothing is more important to student safety than an anti-firearms and weapons policy. Students are always prevented from bringing guns and weapons to school. How it is enforced can differ from place to place. Anti-firearms and weapons policies are often for the safety of bullies as well as for their victims. Victims of bullies may become retaliatory and seek physical revenge on the bully. In addition, some victims of bullying have brought firearms and other weapons and retaliate against many student and teacher bystanders at the school, not just the bully.
School health and safety are the number one concern of good school administrators. They work hard at coming up with school policies and regulations that will keep students feeling safe. They also must be concerned with eliminating the depression and anxiety that often accompanies bullying.