School violence takes many forms. It isn’t often considered true violence unless a student is caught with a gun or a weapon, but what if words or gestures are used to hurt another student? Is it still considered “violence”?
School violence: Invisible Scars
The physical scars of a cut or wound will eventually heal and they will leave behind a visible reminder that proves the student was injured. Students who are bullied don’t have the benefit of a visual reminder. Instead, their wounds are on the inside and the scars they receive are invisible. While physical scars will fade with time, invisible ones tend to linger long after the hurtful words were spoken.
School violence: The Face of the Bully
It is being discovered that the face of the bully can be discovered in individuals we normally wouldn’t consider. A teacher or a shy, withdrawn teen both may be just as guilty as the stereotype we all think of when we look for a bully in our schools. Most people think of bullies as large, imposing students who walk around constantly looking for someone to pick on or tease. This misconception can have disastrous results.
Every individual has a story, some more complex than others. No matter what reason is used to excuse bullying, none are acceptable. Some instances occur without the person having thought through their actions. Others can be more sinister, especially if there are no repercussions. Coaches who continually berate students and belittle them in front of teammates can do much more damage than one who says something out of anger. The difference is whether or not the situation is rectified.
Coaches and teachers who are not disciplined after continued acts of bullying will continue to do so if it produces the desired results. A coach who speaks out of turn will often chastise himself and apologize to the student later. The same goes for teachers and students as well. So how do you tell the difference and what can you do if you notice campus bullying taking place on school grounds.
School violence: Recognizing the Bully
Common signs of a bully are easy to spot. Others, however, may not be so noticeable. People who are difficult to approach, gruff in their mannerisms and forceful in their approach are often taken for bullies whether they are or not. Some of the less common signs are:
- Little interaction with students, teachers or other peers.
- Overly quiet when approached
- Goes out of their way to be nice when confronted
Avoid confronting someone you believe to be a bully unless you have irrefutable proof that a bullying event has occurred. Individuals who do not normally have the air of a bully can use an attack to their favor if they feel they can support their own agenda.
School violence: Make Yourself Aware
Being aware of the people around you will help you determine if a bully is in your midst. Be mindful of students and how they react to other teachers and vice versa. Noticing the visible signs is just the first step in recognizing the many faces bullies can have. Once they have been recognized, appropriate actions can be taken. Supporting the victim is vitally important, but reprimanding the bully is also a must.
School violence: Bringing About Positive Change
Much of what happens concerning school violence centers around the victim. It goes without saying that the victim must feel protected, but the bully’s situation should also be addressed. The reprimand for the wrong doing should be first and foremost. Instead of ending the situation with punishment, a better solution would be to find out why the bully is acting out. Counselling is an option that can be used to help the bully come to grips with why they act out in the first place.
Discovering who the real bullies are and addressing the situation from start to finish can change the face of the bully in school. Like the victim, if the bully’s situation is carefully looked at and any issues are addressed as to where they can bring about positive change in their own lives, then all parties benefit from the outcome. While the victim must come to terms with the bullying event, they can receive benefit from knowing the bullying will stop and the person accountable is receiving the help they need.
Positive change in how situations are handled can bring about changes in the lives of the people who were affected in the first place. While no one wishes bullying to occur, if the right steps are taken, the event can be a catalyst for positive changes in the school setting as well as the lives of the parties involved.