When it comes to reporting problems with bullying, honesty is the best policy. Victims who cover up bullying activities are only contributing to the problem. In like manner, students who witness bullying and fail to report these acts to teachers or school staff are only encouraging bullies to continue their abusive behavior. By being open and honest in exposing bullying in their schools, students can help resolve bullying problems.
Dangers of Covering up Bullying
Failure to report bullying can have serious repercussions in a school environment. Covering up bullying is a form of dishonesty and can cause more harm than good. The definition of honesty is to tell the whole truth about a matter. Partial truths cannot be considered real honesty, especially when it comes to bullying. Partial truths do not tell the whole story about bullying situations because important information is usually left out. Telling half-truths will only confuse the facts, making it difficult for teachers and school officials to take action against bullying acts.
Students fail to be honest in reporting bullying for many reasons. One reason is fear of reprisal. Many students fear they will suffer even greater verbal or physical abuse if they report bullying activity. This fear keeps them from speaking up against bullying acts. Many students have little confidence that teachers and staff can put a stop to bullying. Therefore, they prefer to keep quiet. Still others don’t want to be perceived as “tattletales” or appear weak in front of their peers. Although these reasons may seem sensible to kids, they’re not helpful in putting a stop to bullying. On the contrary, they only encourage bullies to continue with their abusive behavior.
Holding back important information about bullying activities only leads to more bullying. If bullies get away with their behavior, it could encourage other kids to give it a try. Many students resort to bullying in order to appear “cool” in the eyes of their peers and to exercise power over others. If victims and witnesses to bullying do nothing to curtail this activity, it sends the message that bullies can have free reign in a school without being held accountable for their acts.
Importance of Honesty in Reporting Bullying
In many schools and communities around the world, bullying continues to be a major problem. FBI reports in the U.S. indicate that “Bullying remains one of the largest problems in schools, with the percentage of students reportedly bullied at least once per week steadily increasing since 1999.” In Australia, one out of four students are victims of bullying in school. The following bullying statistics expose the seriousness of this problem:
- According to the Center for Adolescent Health, bullied children are three times more susceptible to experiencing depression than their non-bullied peers. These same children are nine times more susceptible to having suicidal tendencies.
- UK studies reveal that bullied children were more susceptible to developing psychotic problems as teens.
- A study by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia indicates that girls are more susceptible to traditional and cyberbullying than boys. Young girls who are bullied in primary school stand a greater chance of being bullied as they grow older.
- Adolescent bullies are more likely to become involved in criminal activity before they turn 30.
- Bullying is one of the most common reasons youth seek assistance from local help services.
In addition to traditional bullying, cyberbullying has also become a major problem, contributing to the tween and teen suicide rate.
By encouraging honest reporting, teachers and parents can help curtail bullying incidents in their schools. Most schools today have adopted anti-bullying programs and policies to protect students from bullying. These policies outline the standard of behavior that’s acceptable and unacceptable in school as well as explains what disciplinary measures can be taken against perpetrators of bullying acts.
In order for these policies to be effective, schools need the help and cooperation of their students in reporting abusive behavior. Unless victims are completely truthful in reporting bullying, this behavior will continue. Those who witness bullying activity also need to be honest in reporting bullying offenses so appropriate action can be taken to protect the student body.
How Effective are Anti-Bullying Strategies?
Anti-bullying strategies may differ from culture to culture, but the overall purpose remains the same – to curtail bullying in schools. In the UK, anti-bullying strategies are designed to:
- prevent, curtail and stop abusive bullying behavior
- provide a means for teachers and students to react to bullying acts
- safeguard students from bullies and provide support for bullying victims
- put disciplinary measures in place to handle bullying behavior
- provide a means of re-educating bullies to change their errant ways
Schools have a responsibility to provide their students with a safe and secure environment conducive to learning. This includes every aspect of school grounds such as hallways, bathrooms, playgrounds, cafeteria and other less supervised areas where bullying is more likely to occur. By creating a plan of action to secure bullying “hotspots”, schools will be more effective in curtailing these acts.
Many schools are taking extra precautions such as installing security cameras in strategic locations and providing greater adult supervision to protect their students from bullying. Some schools have instituted anonymous means of reporting bullying and cyberbullying acts. Suggestion boxes and hotlines give students the opportunity to report bullying activities without worrying about being identified by their peers.
Providing moral training for bullies is yet another aspect of many anti-bullying programs. In addition to discipline, schools are seeing the need to re-educate bullies in an effort to change their errant ways. Many young people who resort to bullying have negative mindsets, inferiority complexes and prejudices that they need to overcome. By making an effort to re-educate these young people, schools do their part to change lives for the better.
Teaching Kids to Be Honest about Bullying
Children who are bullied often have the wrong concept of why they are being bullied. Many believe it’s their own fault due to their looks, nationality, physical or mental handicap or religious belief. These lies need to be addressed so kids can speak out against bullying acts. Victims need to understand that bullying is not their fault, but is due to the prejudices of others.
Once kids realize that bullies are the ones who are wrong, they will have greater conviction to tell the truth about being bullied. Having a good connection with your children will encourage open and honest communications. The closer you are to your children, the easier it is for them to talk honestly with you about bullying and other happenings in their lives.
Raising Awareness of Bullying Problems
Honesty plays a key role in raising awareness of bullying problems. Students and teachers need to have a common definition for honesty when it comes to reporting bullying in order to get positive results. When it comes to bullying, students cannot define honesty in terms of providing just the information they want. Schools need students’ full cooperation in disclosing all the information they have about bullies and their activities so they can make progress in reducing this behavior. Honest reporting by victims and witnesses is essential to eliminating this problem.
Schools can encourage students to come forward in reporting bullying by holding seminars and forums on bullying behavior and discussing options for how students can help in resolving the problem. These options may include:
- Seeking immediate assistance from a responsible adult when bullying occurs
- Reporting bullying incidents to school officials right away
- Standing up for their friends who are being bullied or offering support
- Not participating in bullying incidents by laughing, teasing or gossiping about them to others
- Rallying a group of friends to stand up to the bully to put a stop to his tirades
- Promoting a positive behavior standard where everyone is treated with courtesy and respect
Reading books, stories or quotes on truthfulness and integrity can help young people have greater conviction in this area. Young people need greater conviction to stand up for the right. Here are some good quotes to help inspire greater honesty in a young person’s life.
“A half-truth makes a whole lie.” – Yiddish Proverb
“Every lie is two lies — the lie we tell others and the lie we tell ourselves to justify it.” – Robert Brault
“The least deviation from the truth is later multiplied a thousand-fold.” – Aristotle
“Honesty is never seen sitting astride the fence.” – Lemuel K. Washburn
“There is no well-defined boundary between honesty and dishonesty. The frontiers of one blend with the outside limits of the other. He who attempts to tread this dangerous ground may be sometimes in one domain and sometimes in the other.” – O. Henry
“We tell lies when we are afraid… afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.” – Tad Williams