Physical bullying is more common in middle school but declines in high school. Emotional or verbal bullying, however, remains constant from middle school through high school. Bullying can have many negative effects, not only personal effects on the individual victim, but societal effects such as school shootings, suicide rates and high school drop-out rates.
High school bullying takes many forms. Bullies, contrary to popular opinion, are not necessarily the unpopular, “tough” kids who have trouble in school. They are just as likely to be high-achieving students who are personable and even charismatic.
In most cases, bullies are made, not born. The bully is often a victim at home, perhaps of an abusive or neglectful parent. Bullies often come from families in which disagreements are settled by fighting, and physical punishment is the norm with the winner being the person with the most power. If domestic violence and child abuse are the norm, the child learns that only power matters and that respect goes to the person with the most power. Bullies derive satisfaction from making others suffer and typically single out people who dislike conflict. A bully often displays:
Victims may also come from homes in which domestic violence or child abuse are the normal mode of family interaction. Some victims may be bullied both at school and at home. Victims of High School Bullying:
In some cases, it is the teachers or school administrators who are the bullies. In March of 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California threatened legal action against Sultana High School in Hesperia, California, because school administrators encouraged a climate that allowed harassment and bullying against students who were homosexual or bisexual, and the administrators also made homophobic comments about the students. Even when they are not the bullies, it is not uncommon for teachers to refuse to do anything about the bullying or to ignore the behavior. Twenty-five percent of teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will intervene only 4 percent of the time, according to DoSomething.org. In other high schools, bullying is a longstanding tradition. At the end of each school year for at least 10 and possibly as long as 30 years, junior boys at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in Missouri compiled a list of senior girls that discussed body parts and sexual habits. The Office of Civil Rights is currently investigating the tradition as sexual discrimination.
Teens who are bullied may be reluctant to talk to parents or other adults, although an older and wiser head may be a real help. The emotional support can also be critically important. Other strategies for a bullied teen include:
Bullying is actually an effective way for some teens to climb the social dominance ladder, and the rewards for bullying far outweigh the rewards of stopping. One of the reasons bullying occurs in high schools, however, is because it has been tolerated in the primary and middle school arena. Too many teachers are unwilling to intervene or even participate in bullying. The solution to this problem requires the work of a whole community, with parents, school administrators, teachers, law enforcement, health care professionals and the teens themselves involved.