Unfortunately bullying is something that is becoming more and more common at school. The saddest part of bullying is that it commonly leads to depression, aggression and in severe cases, suicide. By standing together, teachers, students, parents and members of the community can put a stop to bullying. To do so, it is imperative everyone knows how to identify and handle a bully at school.
According to Bullying Statistics, one in four kids are bullied in our country on a regular and ongoing basis. These numbers continually rise because there are so many different ways a bully at school can taunt his or her target. School systems are now being faced with the challenge of having to identify and stop these actions from occurring at school.
Every situation is different, making bullying a serious act that everyone needs to work to prevent and stop. Here are some statistics related to the occurrences bullying within the schools:
- Verbal bullying accounts has been reported by 77 percent of all students
- 14 percent of those in the 77 percent are severely affected by the bully’s actions
- Cyberbullys use social media to target about 80 percent of all high school students
- Approximately 35 percent of teens have been threatened online
- Bully-related activities are conducted once every seven minutes
Knowing the different characteristics of a bully will help with the identification process. Though every situation involving bullying is different, each one has similar characteristics that classify the actions as bullying. These characteristics may help identify who is being a bully and who is being victimized.
According to the National Education Association, bullying is the act of inflicting psychological distress and/or physical harm in a systematical and chronic manner onto a targeted victim. Bullies generally target those who are weaker than they are. These acts can include, but are not limited to, teasing, hitting, destruction of personal belongings, threatening, spreading rumors about and forcing power over another student.
These activities can occur both at school and after school hours. Places where bullying commonly occurs is in the classroom, on the playground, in the bathrooms and at the bus stop. Many times bullying occurs in areas where there is little to no adult supervision.
In order to truly be an act of bullying the following three characteristics must be present:
- Repetition – Bully picks on his or her target every day and/or every time they are together.
- Power imbalance – The target always loses because the bully is bigger and stronger.
- Intent to harm – The target is always afraid and is upset because of what the bully has threatened to do.
In some cases, identifying the victim of a bully may not be as obvious as one would like. In most cases, the target is threatened to keep his or her mouth shut. Because of this, many students will not speak up or seek help with the situation.
Some signs a student may be the target of a bully include:
- Becoming more withdrawn and does not participate in the classroom, at home or in extracurricular activities
- Regularly not finishing homework or a drastic decline is grade point average
- Extreme weight loss or weight gain
- Change in personality and/or how he or she acts with friends and family
- Physical signs, including unexplained bruising, multiple broken bones, small burns and lacerations
- Continually losing personal belongings and claiming he or she has no idea where the items went
- Cries frequently for no reason at all
- Torn, disheveled or burnt clothing
- Tries to always be close to an adult
- Never wants to be alone
What to do
Bullying is something that affects a lot of students. According to Kids Health, nearly three-quarters of all kids say they have been bullied or teased while at school. This can cause unnecessary stress in a child’s life and needs to be stopped before things get too serious.
- Tell an adult
- Avoid the bully
- Ignore the bully
- Stand up for yourself
- Ask a friend for help
- Find a buddy to help
- Never walk the hallways alone
- Have self confidence
- Do not bully back
- Do not show your feelings
- Do not bully others
It is possible to stop a bully at school before he or she is ever able to cause harm on the intended target. Preventing a bully from ever starting is the best way to protect everyone who could be potentially harmed by the bully and/or the victim.
According to the National Education Association, there are 10 steps all parents, educators and concerned friends/family need to take to help stop and prevent bullying from occurring. These steps are:
- Pay attention: If paying close attention to kids at school, educators and parents will be able to spot the warning signs before a bully has started harassing his or her intended victim. It is important for parents to interact with their children and for educators to engage with all of their students on a daily basis.
- Do not ignore the situation: It is important to never assume a situation is harmless. Every student has a different way with handling stressful situations and some may not be able to handle what is perceived to be harmless teasing.
- Do something immediately: When you see something happen, it is imperative to intervene as soon as there is a problem between two or more students. Depending upon the situation, it may be necessary to call in other adults to help get the situation under control.
- Stay calm: Show by example. Let your students see how you are able to remain calm in stressful situations.
- Deal with each student individually: Separate those involved and calmly discuss in private what will happen next. Never allow students to work things out on their own and never let bystanders get involved with the post-incident process.
- Do not request an apology: Never ask either of the students involved to make nice, shake hands and apologize to one another. This can sometimes lead to more bullying, especially if the he or she is embarrassed about getting caught.
- Hold all bystanders accountable: It is because someone is watching that encourages the bully to act the way he or she does. Plus, if others watched and did not report the incident to an adult, they are just encouraging these actions to continue without punishment.
- Do not pre-judge: Take time to listen to both sides and seek out the reason why this is happening. Sometimes a bully’s actions is a cry for help. There could be underlying situations that are causing the bully to act out.
- Seek the appropriate professional help: If you feel giving advice in a situation involving bullying is above your level of expertise, consider finding someone who can help. Seek assistance of a school nurse, counselor, psychologist and/or social worker.
- Get additional training: Become trained to handle situations involving a bully. Some training classes help further explain how to identify, prevent and overcome bullying acts.
The target of a bully at school is not the only one who faces consequences as a result of these acts. The bully can face severe penalties and other consequences as punishment for his acts. According to the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange the bully will suffer from his or her actions for many years to come.
In some extreme cases, it is the targeted victim that lashes out and takes matter into his or her own hands. This is because the target is not able to handle the stress brought on by the bully and feels that no one else is willing to help solve the situation. Because of this, the target may try to handle the situation by using force or a weapon as means of protection.
Some of the consequences a bully may face include:
- Being assaulted or killed by his or her target
- Being six times more likely to end up in jail before the age of 24
- Being five times more likely to have a serious criminal record
- Suffering from health and mental issues
- Expresses trouble controlling anger
- Having difficulty holding onto a job
- Facing legal issues due to strict laws about bullying
- Being kicked out of school for repeat offenses
More and more school districts are implementing a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullying. This is just the beginning to stop bullying at school. To help prevent these from occurring at school it is important to understand and know the characteristics of a bully. It is also important to know who to prevent it from happening and the steps needed to stop it once it begins. If communities pull together, bullying at school will soon become a rare occurrence, not an everyday event.