Classroom bullying is not new nor does it only happen to a select few. It has been around since the dawn of time and grows stronger with technological advancements. In any social setting where children are confined to the same spot vying for power and acceptance will occur. This can create an uncomfortable environment. It is that environment that makes provides the edge – the person doing the bullying feels superior and, in turn, wants to keep that feeling going. The person being bullied retreats further and further within themselves to block out the verbal and sometimes physical assaults. This can happen in a neighborhood, on the playground, in the cafeteria, or even within the seemingly safe borders of a classroom.
Intrinsically, bullying is about power. When a person wants control over other individuals they will exert mental or physical power over whomever they consider weak. The true motivations are usually rooted in deep-seated jealousy or feeling of inadequacy but that is rarely evident to the person being bullied.
There are several reasons that a person could be bullied including:
- Ethnic background
- Education level
- Personal style
- Sexual orientation
- Outside interests
- Family members
- Socio-economic status
It Can Happen to Anyone
Being bullied makes children feel isolated. Kids who have been bullied feel like they are the only ones in the whole school or neighborhood experiencing it, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Even the celebrities that many preteens and teens idolize have experienced bullying in their lives. Here are just some that have shared their stories publicly:
One of the most recognizable actors in the world, Tom Cruise was forced to fight a bully as a kid. He spoke of knowing that he had to stand up for himself or he was going to be picked on by that person continuously.
Singer and former judge on The X Factor has spoken about the hate petitions about her that were signed and circulated in middle school.
This Glee start’s bullying episodes in middle school were so bad he asked to be home schooled.
Bella from Twilight remembers being verbally abused in the sixth grade. People talking about her and making disparaging remarks formed indelible memories.
Fantastic Four’s Jessica Alba was bullied so badly that her father walked her to school every day so that she didn’t get into a fight.
The Effects of Bullying
Bullying puts the victim in a state of perpetual fear, no matter how hard they try to avoid it. Even those who choose to defend themselves are constantly worried that they will have to do it again.
Bullying can cause physiological changes in our body that manifest in different ways. From headaches to hair loss bullying can bring on a host of ailments.
Continuously being attacked can make one wonder if there is an inherent reason for the behavior. Kids start to doubt their self worth. Low self-esteem, stress, and anxiety can plague a victim of bullying for years to come and will color their social and professional interactions. Classroom bullying can also affect grades, which alter the course of the student’s academic career.
If the perpetrator and the victim share the same lunch period there is the potential for an altercation. That can cause stress for the victim, affecting their ability to eat and digest their food properly. They may even skip lunch all together to avoid the bully, leaving them hungry and unable to focus on their afternoon classes. The fear of going to school the next day can impact nourishment even within their own home.
What Can Parents Do?
It may seem, at times, that parents can’t do anything to help their children through these tough times, but parents do have some options:
- Recognize the signs. While there are some changes that are just part of growing up, others are telltale signs that something is adversely affecting their lives. Because kids don’t often ask for help, it’s up to the parents to open the lines of communication, read between the lines, and determine when they need to intervene.
- Bullying is something that has gotten worse as social media sites gain popularity. Cyberbullying has become a popular form of control. These outlets provide a forum for constant disparagement and personal attack, effectively taking classroom bullying into the home. Stay in tune with the child’s social media interactions and restrict their access to these mediums if necessary.
- Meet with the teachers and the principal to determine what can be done to thwart this behavior in school.
- Find out when the bullying is occurring. If threats have been made outside of school, the police can be involved in mitigation.
- If the bullying continues after the school’s official intervention write a Notice of Harassment and file it with the Board of Education.
- If the bullying persists file charges and create an official police file on the matter.
- Help the child understand that bullying does not define their lives. They are so much more than this incident.
Parents, school officials, and any adults who come into contact with children on a regular basis must watch for signs of bullying and take steps to stop it. There are measures in place to keep children safe. It is the duty of all of the concerned adults in these children’s lives to stop bullying in all its forms.