Many who hear about bullying often think the activity is the same at every grade level. The assumption is that it usually involves someone who is a bigger or has more supporters than the victim, and the bullying involves embarrassment and pushing the victim around. Much of this assumption comes from Hollywood, quite frankly, and often resembles only one small sliver of high school bullying today. In reality, teenage bullying in school comes in all types and variations, and it can be serious enough to cause a victim to go into a deep depression or, in some cases, commit suicide. Learn about The Unique Nature of Bullying in High School Now!
High school already comes with more than enough anxiety and frustration for any average teenager. In the space of four years, a teen changes from a grade school to a young adult. He or she learns to drive, experiencing a bigger world than from the back of a parent’s car. The student takes classes that start to cover matters from the real world versus just basic school. Physically and mentally students are going through dramatic changes that directly affect a person’s appearance as well as self-confidence. Then the pressure of getting high enough grades for college is thrown on top.
Now add to the mix the problem of high school bullying, and all the stress of just being a teenager becomes ten times worse with fear, depression and anxiety. It’s no wonder then that teens who are suffering as victims go through sudden and dramatic personality changes when being bullied. It’s a last-line mental defense mechanism to go insular and retreat. And parents who aren’t paying attention end up confused wondering why their once happy child is suddenly sulky and angry all the time. How soon many forget what high school was like.
High school bullying is still very widespread, despite the fact that many schools and school district are now actively marketing anti-bullying programs in schools and to parents. 160,000 children avoid going to school daily in fear of being bullied, and 2.1 million bullies exist in the national school system every year. More than half of students have seen someone get bullied, yet it still continues even though almost 75 percent of incidents are reported. So what’s going wrong?
A Time Magazine article in late 2013 recently covered a shocking and frustrating study about bullying in high school : examining 195 schools and 7,000 students, it was found that kids who went to schools with anti-bullying programs were more likely to be bullied than in schools with no program at all. The painful conclusion of this study was that, seemingly, anti-bullying programs may actually be resulting in worse problems versus improving the school environment.
Ironically, bullying in general has been declining. Statistics tracking the number of incidents and when and where they occur have been showing a downward trend between the years 2003 and 2008. Generally, kids have been getting exposed to less violence in the school hallways. Despite the media and the 24-hours news circuit, kids have generally been living and growing in better environments, according to the Time article study as well as other experts.
However, schools can’t be relied on alone to stop bullying in high school . Parents and family play a key role in either preventing a bully from manifesting and continuing with unacceptable behavior or letting it continue to harm others. In fact, how a child is raised at home frequently has a huge influence on how that child will behave in high school, whether it be as a bully or as a victim or as a silent witness. Children are incredibly influenced by their early environment, and those principles carry forward into their teenage years as they begin to probe and experiment at what works in life going forward.
Bullies in high school have often had years of practicing and refining their behavior. In many cases, the only reason they are using bullying in high school is because they’ve gotten away with the behavior year after year at lower levels of school. The brute ones have done so based simply on physical prowess and not feeling threatened by anyone, even older students when they were freshman. The smart ones have done so by being able to outsmart and manipulate their peers and those around them until in a position of power, no longer needing craft and subtlety to affect direction.
Understanding this development is the key component to turning around behavior and identifying how to stop bullying in high school. School administrators need to bond with parents versus treat them as another case number. While teachers and administrators can project and theorize for days how to deal with behavior in the classroom, the reality is the parent is the key to implementing anti-bullying principles at home. Without that linkage, the prevention effort is only a half loaf. It gets forgotten as soon as the student leaves the school or, worse, it is diluted or rejected in the household. For example, how many bullies come from a home where the parents, particularly the father, encourages picking on the weak as a way of toughening up and being stronger? How many kids and teenagers are regularly told by their parents that to succeed they need to, in effect, step on others? It sounds shocking but in reality it happens more than people care to admit.
Some schools are very proactive and realize the relationship of raising a student in high school still needs the role of the home and the parent just as it did in grade school. Unfortunately, many school districts cannot or will not extend their efforts that far. Schools nationwide have devolved into processing institutions, following predetermined steps and programs, taking in students and pushing out graduates year after year. Ideally, the product from a high school is taught enough information to be minimally functional, enough to be worker or to go on to higher education. However, none of that formula included the impact and damage that can happen from negative socialization, i.e. bullying.
High school bullying is not going to go away until it stops being an accepted part of American culture. For that to happen, the change needs to start at the home life level and be reinforced by the schools system, not the other way around. Education experts often talk about the relationship and bridge that needs to be in place between the classroom and the home, but few school districts put in the effort to make that link start to happen. Some are afraid of being sued and lawyers demanding big payoffs for teachers giving bad guidance to parents. Others don’t want to spend district funds on “touchy-feely” programs when government criteria demands performance in grades and standardized test scores. Still other schools unofficially act as if bullying isn’t that big of an issue, and the media blows it up to far more than bullying actually is.
Unfortunately, kids still go to school, teens still act out what they learn at home, and students still have to go to school every day. If schools and parents can take a real step forward, they can actually put a real pinch to bullying development, especially early on when it begins to first manifest.