School bullying has probably been around since the 18th century. It is a negative human condition that has evolved along with the mind and psyche. Bullying started with kids picking on each others or parents believing that they are teaching their kids “discipline” by beating them. Adults used to believe that kids fought only to be “best friends in the end.” Bullying also resulted from conforming to prejudiced social norms like gender stereotyping of men and women. The idea of “boys will be boys” and “girls are catty” have given way to accepting unacceptable negative social behavior. However, with awareness and strategies, bullying in school can be controlled.
What distinguishes bullying from regular childhood teasing and taunting? The severity and duration of bullying can be used as its identifying markers. Kids are cruel by nature. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are mean but more in the sense of their brutal honesty. Young children don’t have the social and empathetic skills that adults have. These are acquired traits. Children don’t inherit them but are influenced into becoming empathetic, kind individuals through positive role-modeling.
It is important that adults stop thinking of bullying as a normal part of childhood. They should not believe that kids need to “toughen up,”,especially when we are dealing with boys. Instead, adults should teach kids assertiveness, how to express their emotions in a healthy way and how to stand up for themselves. Bullies tend to target those with low self esteem. Fearfulness and helplessness greatly reinforce bullying.
What Causes School Bullying?
The personality of a bully develops in childhood and is caused by hereditary factors, peer relations and in response to social situations in school and community. Lack of warmth at home, too much or too little discipline and physical punishment may contribute to bullying. An imbalance of power can occur if children are raised in non-accepting homes. Their peers would appear either superior or inferior to them in terms of how they look, their customs or socioeconomic statuses.
The child who bullies does so to gain attention and secure friends. It gives him/her a false sense of power. Negative company sometimes compels strong kids to exert power over the weak. The victim’s fear and submission reinforce the bullies’ sense of domination.
Bullies believe that bullying behavior will grant them acceptance. When they grow up, bullies are at a greater risk for embarking on criminal activity. Because bullying can escalate into violence, more often than not there will be crimes committed. A 2013 research by a group of scientists in the department of criminal justice and criminology at the University of North Carolina found out that 14 percent of kids who suffered repeated bullying will have a criminal record by the age of 18.
Some kids may bully because of their poor social skills. This could be traced to emotional or personality disorders. They may have latent sociopathic tendencies which would make them a danger to their families and societies.
What Is Bullying in School?
Bullying in school occurs when one student or a group of students intentionally hurt another student. This abuse may be physical, psychological, or emotional. The last type is one of the most common forms of bullying in schools, and one of the least recognized by parents. Reasons for bullying vary almost as much as its types.
- The bully (or bullies) may have self-esteem issues and would only feel better about themselves by picking on someone who is weaker and less powerful.
- Students may develop a herd mentality and pick on a child who does not conform to what they view as normal.
- Students bully other students so as to be seen as “cool” and avoid being bullied themselves.
- In some cases, bullies are being abused at home and they take out their anger on one or more students they deem most likely to “take it” and not stand up for themselves. They might also bully students with healthy homes out of their envy for their normal and happy lives.
Different Kinds Of School Bullying
- Verbal: excessive and malicious teasing, insulting remarks, name calling, embarrassing jokes and revealing intimate information, cursing, crude and inappropriate sexual comments, threats and taunting.
- Physical: hitting, tripping, kicking, pushing and shoving.
- Social: ignoring a certain person, casting them out of a group, making them feel left out, spreading rumors about them and telling other kids not to be friends with them.
- Cyber bullying: threats and inappropriate sexual comments via social media, texting, emailing and chat rooms.
- Bullying can occur between peers at school, in the community, or in social groups. There are even cases of teachers bullying students.
Researchers note that there are differences in school bullying patterns between boys and girls. Boys tend to be more physical while girls are verbal and use social bullying methods to hurt others. This passive-aggressive type of bullying may be harder for adults to detect.
Pack bullying is when a group of -usually- older children target one or more victims. It is similar to a pack of wolves hunting a prey together. Pack bullying can be physical or emotional. It is often done through cyber bullying. It lasts longer than real life bullying and can be more damaging because it can lead to long-term depression (dysthymia) or suicide.
1) Physical Bullying
Physical school bullying occurs when a group of children ostracize another child, or a group of seemingly weaker children. It’s like pitting the “cool” kids against those kids they consider “un-cool” or “freaks.” The “cooler” bullies aim to make the victims feel unworthy because they are not part of their social gang. Physical bullying beats down the victim’s self-worth, and thus leads to depression. Sometimes, desperation drives the victim to make unnecessary, humiliating measures to impress the bullies.
If you are worried that your child is physically bullied, you can easily detect that from his/her behavioral changes. Any drastic change in your child’s behavior should be followed up with an investigation in conjunction with school officials to see if he/she might be a victim of physical bullying.
2) Name Calling
The old saying that “sticks and stones can’t break my bones” is not entirely true. Words DO hurt. Some kids make up the worst possible insults to call someone, such as “FATTY,” “PIG,” “SLUT,” “WHORE,” or “F**.” Some kids use racial, sexist or homophobic name calling to hurt their victims the most. You should teach your kid to report any incident of name calling that he/she witnesses as it tends to get worse if no action is taken. Kids need to understand that homophobic, sexist and demeaning comments are not funny. This is what school is all about: creating a safe and accepting environment for everyone.
3) Spreading Rumors
While rumors and gossip are not against the law, they can carry legal consequences and are considered to be one of the worst types of bullying in schools. Girls resort to this type of behavior more than boys who tend to choose physical aggression as their preferred method of bullying. Gossip can result in loss of integrity and respect from others, loss of jobs, low community status, and humiliation. Gossip is considered “slander” or “libel” if it occurs in print or on the Internet through cyber bullying.
Different School Bullying Prevention Measures?
- Launch an anti-bullying awareness campaign that involves the entire community.
- Implement firm school-wide rules with severe punishment for bullying.
- Spread acceptance and respect.
- Include anti-bullying messages and information in school-related publications like newsletters, websites and the school magazine.
- Use cameras to better supervise hallways, bathrooms, playgrounds or any area that lacks adult supervision.
- Integrate the campaign into the community.
- Implement the random acts of kindness culture with rewards to the kindest and most creative student.
How Can School Bullying Be Prevented on School-to-School Level?
It is important for schools to address bullying because it both threatens students’ safety and impacts their learning. School bullying will be more prevalent if it is not addressed properly. States provide guidelines as to when bullying requires intervention by law enforcement officials. Schools have an obligation to define bullying and properly report it. It is a national safety issue.
A team can be formed to assess school bullying and to launch an awareness campaign. This should begin by assessing school bullying. Where does it occur, and how often? What are the kinds of school bullying that are occurring? Establish a climate in which school bullying is not accepted.
What Can Parents Do to Fight School Bullying?
Proactive involvement in your child’s life is the first step in preventing school bullying. Talk with them and listen to what they have to say. Ask open-ended questions about their relationships with their teachers and their peers. Ask how they spend time between classes and during recess. Most importantly, watch your child closely to determine if he/she is being bullied.
Signs that a Child May Be a Victim of School Bullying:
- Personal items often missing.
- Asking for extra money.
- Frequently “losing” lunch pocket money.
- Frequent headaches or stomachaches.
- Avoiding after-school activities.
- Consistently going to school early or late.
- Pretending to be sick or constantly missing school.
What to Consider in Preventing Your Child From Being Bullied or becoming a Bully at School
- Teach your children anti-bullying habits. Condemn physical and verbal bullying.
- Be a role model. Avoid inappropriate language and disrespectful attitude.
- Teach your children to be assertive.
- Build trust between you and your child.
- Teach your children to report bullying safely yet immediately.
- Find ways to report school bullying anonymously.
- Teach your children about cyber bullying.
- Supervise your children’s Internet activities.
- Advocate for your kids’ school to have anti-bullying programs and campaigns.
- Provide an accepting and nonjudgmental environment for your kids.
- Seek counseling for your child if he/she shows signs of being a bully.
- Enroll your child in martial art classes as well as mindful yoga and meditation classes. This will help in building confidence as well as teaching him/her how to control feelings and emotions.
School Bullying Statistics 2014
- According to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70.6 percent of students have witnessed bullying in their school.
- A survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014 that included 7,000 LGBT students aged 13-21 found out that: 8 out of 10 students have been verbally harassed, 4 out of 10 have been physically harassed while 1 out of 5 have been victims of physical assault, due to their sexual orientation.
- Of total U.S. students, 28 percent in grades 6-12 have been bullied with the percentage decreasing to 20 for students in grades 9-12.
- Of LGBT students, 55.2 percent have experienced cyber bullying.
- 1 in 5 students admit to being a bully or bullying someone.
Tennessee School Bullying Statistics for the School Year 2012-2013:
In 2012 the Tennessee General Assembly in the U.S. passed the legislation that required the state Department of Education to report the number of bullying cases reported annually and publicly state how they are being dealt with. This approach would give an insight into what goes on in schools across the nation every year.
The Tennessee District has over 950,000 in its public schools. Of these numbers, here are the actual reported bullying cases:
- 7,555 harassment and bullying cases are filed within the school year.
- 5,478 of these cases were confirmed after a strict investigation.
- 695 bullying cases were reported involving gender or sex discrimination.
- 564 reports are related to “cyber bullying”.
- 321 cases involved racial, ethnic and religious bullying.
- 168 reports involved bullying due to a person’s disability.
One of the most important statistics to know is the number of children impacted by bullying on a regular basis. While the various studies show different numbers of students who claim to have been the victim of bullying, the general consensus in 2014 is that one quarter of total number of students are victimized by bullies at school annually. Of those school bullying victims, 77 percent are bullied verbally and physically, while 43 percent have been cyber bullied. The number of cyber bullying victims has been on the rise due to the increased use of social media, online role playing games and other websites.
School Bullying Suicide Statistics
The most serious consequence of long-term bullying is suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for individuals aged 15 to 24 (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, 2014). In a report by Center for Injury Prevention and Control in 2012, 38 percent of frequent bullying victims and 22 percent of perpetrators admitted to attempting suicide or thinking about suicide at least once in the past year.
Furthermore, 7 in every 100,000 youths die by suicide annually, with at least one in six high school students considering taking their own lives. It cannot be stressed enough that the increasing prevalence of bullying correlates directly with the increasing suicide rate among America’s youth.
The more physical or violent forms of bullying are not necessarily those strongest suicide triggers. Cyber bullying is the fastest growing and perhaps the most seriously threatening form of bullying. A violent, physical threat is decidedly scary but it sometimes ends at school gates. However, a threat to one’s social well-being online might be relentless and chase the victim wherever he/she goes. It is not bound by geographical boundaries or borders.
Suicide is not the only drastic consequence of bullying in schools. Bullying can take many forms, and the effects of bullying can be pervasive, relentless and life-threatening. The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) reports that bullying victims can display a broad range of responses over an extended period of time. These responses may include:
- Low self-esteem.
- Lack of assertiveness.
- Difficulty trusting others.
- Difficulty controlling anger.
- Expression of overt aggression.
According to the June 2014 report by the National Bureau of Justice in regards to school bullying statistics:
- 5 percent of students in grades 9-12 said they had access to guns without adult permission.
- Around 37 percent of students in grade 6 reported being bullied at school, with 30 percent in grade 7 and 31 percent in grade 8.
- Around 77 percent of students from grades 6-12 reported being verbally abused in some way.
- School bullying incidents that involved targeting individuals based on their race varied between ethnicities. About 5 percent of Hispanic students reported being afraid of harm or attack away from school, the percentage was lower in Black students (3 percent) and the lowest for White students (2 percent).
When digging deeper in school bullying statistics, it was found that 14 percent of high school students reported having a severe or traumatic reaction to bullying. A study by Warwick University found that school bullying is one of the major underlying causes for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). School counselors and private therapists report often hearing about bullying incidents from young people who come to them for treating their behavioral or emotional disorders.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following school bullying statistics estimate how grave the problem is:
- 13 percent of kids in grades 6-10 admitted to being the bully or doing an act of “bullying” while 6 percent admitted to bullying others as well as being victims of bullying.
- Bullies get in trouble more often at school and suffer from poor performance at schoolwork.
- Contrary to common belief, bullies tend to be confident with high self-esteem.
- Ohio State University researchers in 2012 found out that students who bully their peers are more likely to use marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol.
What Is Your Parental Role in School Bullying Prevention?
Most schools have anti-bullying strategies outlining what to do when bullying takes place on school property. Unfortunately, not all schools follow through with their anti-bullying problems due to lack of time, interest or resources. As a parent, you must encourage the school officials to upgrade their anti-bullying systems. You should become involved in your kid’s school life. At the first sign of suspecting that your child may be a victim of bullying, you should hurry and approach his/her teacher to talk about what’s going on. You must contribute to a more positive school climate by associating with the teachers, volunteering and speaking at school improvement events.
You must spend more time with your children and build a knit-tight relationship of mutual trust and love. When troubles -such as bullying- arise, your kids will be more apt to confide in you to get help. Children need caring and trustworthy adults in their lives. Kids also crave parental role models so that they imitate them in the early stages of their growth. To help your child stand up to bullying, you should teach him/her communication and problem solving skills, encourage him/her to practice interactive speaking and implement a sense of security and safety in his/her life.
Bullying threatens physical and emotional integrity of students. To engage in the fight against bullying, schools should implement firm programs that work on so many levels, starting from the student-levels until it reaches the administration.
Some of the school bullying prevention and intervention methods include:
- Adult supervision especially in areas such as the school cafeteria and playground. By keeping a more diligent watch over students in these key locations, teachers may be able to nip bullying incidents in the bud before they have a chance to flare up.
- Teachers have a moral responsibility to their students to teach them the right from the wrong. Their moral input could be a tremendous help in curtailing abusive behavior.
- Teachers must boost their student’s confidence and sense of worth through encouragement and praise so they don’t feel they have to resort to bullying to get the attention they need.
- Conduct regular assessment in school to help determine how often bullying occurs and where it regularly takes place. Teachers could make use of bullying surveys to test the waters and see the school bullying status. Before conducting a survey, teachers should ensure their students’ privacy as well as obtain parental consent as each district requires.
- Teachers should engage the parents in the bullying prevention process. Benefits of this step includes making students feel safer and more understood, involving parents in the educational process thus making them more aware and improving the overall school climate.
- School staff and administration should establish policies and rules that regulate the school system and students’ well-being. Types of rules and policies include: writing a solid mission of statement, a code of conduct and a bill of rights which would be perfect in preventing racial discrimination and gender prejudice.
- School administration should integrate rules and policies in day-to-day interactions between students. It should also make certain that these rules are consistent with the state law.
- A clear and organized reporting system for bullying should be initiated by the school administration. Teachers should monitor these reports and view them accordingly.
- The school management should build an atmosphere of acceptance, tolerance and respect between teachers, students and parents. Any person who deviates from this regulatory system should be punished according to the school code of ethics and regulations.
The National Education Association (NEA) treats bullying as an educational issue, a health issue and a social justice issue. Bullying is the cause of so many students not graduating from high school. The seriousness of bullying is reaching state legislature. Changes are being put into place to alleviate, eliminate, and greatly reduce the number of bullying incidents that take place in public schools. Cyber bullying in public schools is one of the currently major issues on the list of educational challenges.
Here are some public school bullying statistics as of November, 2014:
- Bullying occurs on every grade level but it is most prevalent among middle school students.
- Bullying in public schools is the primary source of school shootings.
- Nearly 9 in 10 LGBT students report being verbally bullied in public schools due to their sexual orientation.
- 60 percent of students with disabilities report being physically bullied.
The above guidelines on school bullying aid you in teaching your kids how dangerous it is to be a bully and that they must report bullying at once. Standing up to bullying should be a major household rule. As a parent you should go all the way in supporting bullying prevention campaigns and movements. Ending childhood school bullying may in turn criminalize bullying all over the world.
Do you have additional information on school bullying? Has school bullying affected your life or the lives of your loved ones? Weigh in on school bullying and the effects of school bullying below in our comment section.