Bullying has become a major problem with some dire consequences over the last decade. With technological advances, bullying has branched out from the school campus and followed children home via social networking sites or text messaging. It is imperative that adults step in and recognize the warning signs of bullying and discuss how to stop bullying so children are free to concentrate on academics, not personal safety. Understanding is the first step to Bullying Prevention.
Different Types of Bullying and Bullying Prevention
Before addressing bullying prevention one must realize that Bullying can take on many different forms, leaving kids victim to constant harassment to which they feel as if there is no escape. Those who bully are usually in a power position and exhibit aggressive behaviors with the intent to belittle or harm others. Some forms of bullying include:
- Cyber bullying
Verbal bullying occurs when children tease or threaten other children. Physical bullying involves hitting, kicking, tripping or breaking of personal possessions. Cyber bullying has increased with the rise of technology and social networking sites. These sites are used to taunt and embarrass victims. Often, rumors or embarrassing photographs are posted for other students to see. Feeling as if one is under constant attack can lead to long-term problems such as low self-esteem, depression, withdrawal, and desperate acts like violence or suicide. therefore, we truly need Bullying Prevention.
Bullying Prevention: Has Bullying Increased Throughout the Years?
The answer is absolutely. The CDC reports that “Current estimates suggest that nearly 30% of American adolescents reported at least moderate bullying experiences as the bully, the victim, or both.” Thanks to cell phones and internet social networking sites, it is easier to start and spread bullying. The impact is larger since home is no longer a safe haven for the person being attacked. The outcome is evident in the number of school shootings and suicides reported throughout the last several years.
So what can be done about it? The answer can be found in adults both at home and via staff members in schools. Parents often view bullying as a typical occurrence of childhood. Some parents may encourage children to ignore or even fight back. This sets the child up for feeling helpless and as if they have no one to turn to. Teachers and Principals often fail to recognize the severity of the situation. If the bullying is not witnessed or other children are not willing to come forth and testify, policies often dictate that nothing can be done unless the event is witnessed or physical harm has been done.
Responsibilities and Bullying Prevention
Parents have a responsibility to know what is happening with their children. Parents need to listen and pay attention to what is going on in the lives of their kids. Recognize signs like withdrawal from social activities, defiance or aggression, depression, loss of appetite, and suicidal thoughts or actions, as a sign that something serious is occurring. Parents need to know what type of websites their kids are visiting. They need to review online communications with their peers and make sure that teens are not a member of a site where parents are not allowed to friend or follow. This may seem like an invasion of privacy for your teenager, but explain that it is your job as the parent to ensure their safety and establish rules. Talk to your children about bullying. Encourage them to not be a bystander who allows victimization to continue. Teach them that it is ok to report what they see and hear if it is harmful to another student.
Staff members at school are in a position to stop bullying. Recently, policies have been put in place that adopt a no tolerance rule for kids who bully, whether verbal or physical, but the problem occurs when teenagers do not speak out. Staff can help kids by adding programs in school that teach about bullying and the negative effects. Communication should be encouraged and an anonymous avenue to report harassment should be in place at every school. Every complaint needs to be taken seriously and investigated.
More on Bullying Prevention!
Bullying affects everyone. Students who do the bullying are often those who exhibit delinquent behaviors later in life. They are typically not good academic performers and tend to have a high drop-out rate. Those who are bullied are isolated from social activities and have few companions. The suicide rate is higher amongst those who are being bullied, and so is the likelihood of bringing a weapon to school for protection. Those students who witness the bullying may feel helpless or like a failure for not preventing the incident. Staff and parents who do not recognize a threat, perceived or real, may inadvertently set up a system where kids feel they have little or no support.
The solution is everyone’s responsibility. Parents, staff, and adolescents must communicate. Include the students in the effort for prevention of bullying. Talk with kids about concerns, fears, and solutions. Adults may be surprised to find that kids are very knowledgeable about how to prevent and stop the occurrence of bullying. After all, they are the ones who deal with, witness or take part in the victimization of others. Speak with the adolescent or adolescents responsible for the bullying. Find out what is going on at home or at school that may be the reason the student is acting out. A lot of times those who bully feel as if they have no control over their own life or are bullied themselves. Some feel as if bullying is a preemptive attack. It is a “if I am the bully, I cannot be the victim” type of attitude that many students adopt. Some feel as if it will make them popular with other students in power positions if they “pick on” someone else.