Bullying has always existed, but in the past few years, the innocent teasing from peers at school has escalated. In today’s high schools, bullying has exploded into a frequent and complex problem that is emotionally and physically damaging to students. Bullying takes root in individuals that feel the need to control others because of their insecurities. High school bullying stems from a destructive cycle of negative behaviors that the bully wants to inflict on others. It is these aggressive and damaging emotions that are untreated that cause difficulties in their future. So who is a high school bully?
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Teens who bully are crying for emotional stability and positive attention, and unless this way of dealing with their emotions is stopped, they will continue to bully others throughout the rest of their lives.
The dysfunctional behavior of a bully typically originates from their early childhood environment. The bully tries to replace negative inner emotions by intimidating the kids around him. As the saying goes “Hurt people hurt people.” Studies show that over 83 percent of bullying among school kids goes unreported. Bullying has reached astounding proportions, while studies show that teens involved in bullying are four times more likely to develop suicidal thoughts and be involved in criminal behavior.
Signs of Teen Bullying
Victims of bullying typically feel intimidation, fear, and shame, and they often repress it all unless they have a confidant. Often, they feel that the torture will get worse if they report it, so they remain quiet and endure it. When the victim turns inward and retreats, it creates feelings of hopelessness, which may turn into depression, self-harm, and suicide.
Every parent and educator should know the signs of bullying. Here are eight indicators to help identify a child or teen who is being bullied. When authority figures are aware of these signs, they are able to connect with the children and make their environment safer.
1. The teen has become afraid to go to school or go to after-school activities
2. The child comes home with torn or damaged personal belongings
3. The child appears more withdrawn and depressed than normal
4. The child has been “losing” possessions, like iPods, books, or other valuable items
5. The child has injuries that he or she explains away
6. The child is losing interest in associating with other kids
7. The child resorts to self-harm. When a child feels there is no justice in the world, self-harm allows them to feel in control
8. The child’s self-esteem levels drop, and there is evidence of helplessness and hopelessness that was not previously exhibited.
Research has shown that, in the majority of situations, if the victim reports the bully or stands up to them, the bully will stop because the balance of power has been equaled. A student who acts confidently and ignores the high school bully or reports them has more success in reducing or stopping the attacks.
Bullying typically begins with verbal abuse and then magnifies. There are three types of bullying, which include physical, verbal, and cyber bullying. By definition, bullying is defined as using intimidating or coercive behavior to gain control. The bully uses certain tactics to intimidate their victim and then forces control with emotional or physical abuse.
A high school bully is looking for power over their target in order to gain peer acceptance. They also get an added adrenalin rush as a bonus from the confrontation. This violent bullying is repeated because it offers a temporary solution to their emotional problems, much like a drug addict.
Bullies will use all the differences that they can find as easy reasons to start up the bullying, such as religion, race, gender, physical size, weight, economic standards, or intelligence, and magnify them, but the reasons could be as insignificant as the color of hair or the style of clothes. Teens are known as being extremely insecure anyway.
What Stops the Bullying?
There are no rules as to how long the bullying will go on, but as long as the aggressor is receiving emotional rewards or positive peer support, it could continue indefinitely. Studies have shown that since the bully is acting out to gain power and control, when they are stopped by someone of greater influence, such as a teacher, parent, or older student, they respond to the authority, and the bullying will stop. Studies reveal that interference is the best method of breaking the power cycle, which is contrary to victims’ belief that they can handle it themselves. Bullying needs to be reported.
Hurt People Hurt People
No matter what the reason for the bullying is, it is detrimental to both parties, and if these kids are not treated, the initial hurt is stuffed inside. There are as many reasons to bully as there are individual bullies, but the shame, insecurity, and dysfunctional behaviors are common to all involved.
Studies show that a cycle of abuse is created when the victim becomes the bully to another if there is no outlet for their emotions. If the high school bully and victim are left untreated, often the victim turns the tables in an effort to right the wrong that was done to them. Both the victim and the bully are damaged inside from these attacks, so after the situation has been exposed, the solution is to break the cycle of violence and replace the negative self-image with positive self-esteem.
With more than half of the students in high school admitting to being bullied at one time or another and 10 percent being regularly abused, it’s significant that students receive the help they need. The majority of students who are bullied are not prepared to “rat out” a classmate, yet this is the only solution. Studies show that nearly 9 out of 10 gay students have reported being bullied, and this statistic is very similar to children with disabilities. Here are five steps to take when a child reports being bullied.
1. Teachers only intervene in 1 in 25 incidents, so adults need to get more involved and work together.
2. Informing the bully’s parents is the first step in keeping the bully under control, so that they will discontinue the coercive behavior.
3. Get help for the victim immediately, to heal the shame and intimidation that they have endured. Professional or school counseling is of great benefit.
4. Schools can form support groups for the victim, so that they can move on.
5. The goal is to break the cycle of abuse in the individuals and prevent posttraumatic stress disorder or suicide.
The number one way to stop the high school bully is to keep the lines of communication open between adults and children. If they know that they are accepted, they will be comfortable in talking about these issues. Begin the process of teaching children about bullying at a young age. When they know it is an unacceptable behavior and they face a similar situation in the future, they can confidently walk away. Reassure them that reporting an incident to parents, teachers, principles, friends ‘ parents, store owners, or pastors is being responsible and is the expected behavior.
Hazing has Increased
Bullying in schools has progressively gotten worse in the past decade. As a result, hazing has become the next step in humiliation, and it has increased as well. Over 1.5 million high school students admit to being hazed, and 55 percent of college students admitted to participating in hazing activities. The definition of hazing is similar to that of bullying, and it leads authorities into suspecting that there is a connection.
Hazing is considered the successor to bullying because it is also based on intimidation and humiliation. Hazing activities involve nudity, forced alcohol drinking, endurance tests, lewd sex acts, sexual advances, and physical assault, but hazing creates deeper levels of anger and shame. Statistics show that there have been over 96 hazing-related deaths in the U.S. before February, 2010, and approximately 16 since then.
The difference between hazing and bullying is that hazing is prohibited by law in 44 states. Parents and teachers are uniting and speaking out against bullying and waging war against hazing. Community awareness is needed to fight back for the kids that can’t fight back for themselves. Parents are uniting with school and community officials to find solutions to both of these destructive activities. It still appears that the best solution is to improve communication between children and adults so that students feel encouraged to report the bullying.