Bullying in schools is not a thing of the past nor is it fading into the distance. Unfortunately, bullying is still a significant issue in schools across the world and according to the National Association of African American Students, “Each day, 160,000 students miss school for fear of being bullied.” While it can take on many forms from cyber bullying to physical bullying, and span across grade levels from Kindergarten into college, the effects of bullying are far reaching and can negatively affect a student’s physical and mental well being. Bullying can also be a driving force behind school violence.
The most common form of bullying in schools is verbal bullying. According to bullyingstatistics.org, “When it comes to verbal bullying, this type of bullying is the most common type with about 77 percent of all students being bullied verbally in some way or another including mental bullying or even verbal abuse. These types of bullying can also include spreading rumors, yelling obscenities or other derogatory terms based on an individual’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc.” Verbal bullying in schools can result in children refusing to use the bathroom at school for fear they will be bullied when a teacher is not around or distancing themselves from classmates or friends due to low self-esteem. Effects of bullying can even include a decline in academic performance and health related complaints.
So what do you need to know about Bullying in Schools ?
physical bullying is another predominant form of bullying in schools. Physical bullying is a leading cause of school violence and can include hitting, pushing and stealing from another student. While the effects of physical bullying seem to be more obvious, children may try to mask this situation and make up excuses for why their things have gone missing again or why they may have strange marks or bruises on their bodies. It is important that parents, teachers and administrators are on the lookout for warning signs of physical bullying and that any witnesses or victims immediately report the bullying in order to prevent future occurrences.
According to bullyingstatistics.org, some warning signals that a student might be a victim of physical bullying include:
- Coming home from school with bruises, cuts, or other unexplained injuries
- Having damaged clothing, books, or possessions
- Often “losing” things that they take to school
- Complaining of frequently not feeling well before school or school activities
- Skipping certain classes
- Wanting to avoid going to school or going to school a certain way, such as taking strange routes home from school or not wanting to ride the bus
- Acting sad or depressed
- Withdrawing from others
- Saying they feel picked on
- Displaying low self esteem
- Mood swings, including anger or sadness
- Wanting to run away
- Trying to take a weapon to school
- Talking about suicide or violence against others
It is hard to believe that so much of the bullying that occurs in schools goes unnoticed by teachers and other students. So where exactly does bullying usually occur?
- On the playground
- In after school or daycare programs
- In the bathroom
- During recess, lunch and breaks between classes
- On the way to and from school
- On the internet (Facebook, MySpace, twitter, etc.)
Bullying can occur anywhere at any time. It is crucial that teachers, administrators and parents are on the lookout for bullying. Additionally, school staff should engage students in discussions about where and when bullying takes place so they can work together to ensure those places do not get overlooked. Stopbullying.gov also suggests to, “create a mission statement, code of conduct, school-wide rules, and a bullying reporting system. These establish a climate in which bullying is not acceptable.”
It is clear that bullying in schools is still a monumental issue, but which students are being bullied and why? According to stopbullying.gov, the following attributes increase a child’s risk of being bullied:
- Children who are perceived as different from their peers, such as being overweight or underweight, wearing glasses or different clothing, being new to a school, or being unable to afford what kids consider “cool”
- Children who are perceived as weak or unable to defend themselves
- Children who are depressed, anxious, or have low self esteem
- Children who are less popular than others and have few friends
- Children who do not get along well with others, seen as annoying or provoking, or antagonize others for attention
The first step in the fight against bullying is awareness and proactive measures that prevent bullying from starting in the first place. The following are steps that you, your school and your family can take to prevent and eliminate bullying from schools:
- Get to know your children, who they hang out with, what they do during recess and lunch breaks and find out about their daily routines. It is important to have open communication with your child so that if they are being bullied, they will be comfortable enough to talk to you or another adult about it.
- Speak with school staff and talk to educators about policies and procedures that are in place and ways that parents and school staff can work together to promote a safe environment for all students.
- Start an anti-bullying campaign at your school and engage other students with poetry writing contest and artistic displays that speak out against bullying.
- Have weekly classroom meetings to discuss these issues and bring light to bullying situations that are happening or have happened at your own school. Ask students to share out about their feelings then role play different scenarios to prepare students for different ways to handle the situation if they are ever bullied.
Regardless of whether or not your child has seen or been a victim of bullying, it is never too early to begin talking with them about bullying and what they should do if they see it or are a part of it. Be proactive and preventative against bullying and start today.