Bullying has become the subject of concern for many educators, administrators, and parents in recent years. While bullying in school has probably existed as long as schools have been around, the prevalence of technology, social media, and other tools have made it even more widespread--and damaging--for children who are victims.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2007 about 1 in 3 students between the ages of 12-18 said they were victims of bullying in school. The definition of "school bullying" includes any type of bullying that occurs on school property, whether it's peer-to-peer, younger children as victims of older children, group bullying, or even bullying the involves teachers as victims or perpetrators.
Addressing the Problem
In response to the increase in bullying behaviors, many schools have implemented bullying prevention programs intended to teach educators, parents, and students how to identify aggressive conduct and prevent it from happening in the future.
Bullying can either be physical (hitting, fighting, shoving, spitting, or threats of physical harm), or emotional (insults, name-calling, teasing, and isolation). Years ago, these behaviors were mostly isolated to the times when students were in school, and thus in close physical proximity to one another. Today with technology like smartphones, social media, and the Internet, emotional bullying often extends long after school is over through cyber bullying. These technologies allow students to harass one another online, through email and chat programs, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, text messages, web posts and blogs, or a combination of several of these methods.
Many schools are working to create effective bullying prevention programs that educate students on identifying bullies and reporting bully behavior in order to prevent it from continuing. One effective method is to create education aimed at groups of students that can be adapted based on the group's specific needs.
If 1 of 3 students identify themselves as bullying victims, that means about 65 percent of students are what experts classify as bystanders. Differentiation strategies to identify bystanders and teach them how they can recognize bullying, stand up for students being bullied, and report bad behavior to teachers, administrators, parents, or other authorities, have been shown to be very effective.
Groups like the Florida Association of School Psychologists encourage schools to create bystander trainings that:
- Provide protection for victims by creating a "buddy system" to connect students
- Encourage bystanders to stand up for peers being bullied
- Teach bystanders strategies for supporting victims
- Identify the importance of bystanders avoiding bullying by not spreading rumors, teasing, or passively watching while bullying occurs
Another effective method schools are working on includes programs for educating all students on tolerance for people who may be different, and who are at higher risk of being bullied. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website stopbullying.gov identifies some of the most likely victims of bullying:
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students
- Students with disabilities or special health needs
- Students who are part of racial or ethnic minority groups
- Students with religious or faith-based differences that are readily apparent to their peers--for example, Muslim students wearing head scarves or Jewish students with yarmulkes
Effective tolerance programs work to educate all students on the importance of accepting differences without judging their peers, and integrating students in safe environments so they can get to know one another on a personal level.
The consequences of bullying can be devastating for children, affecting their performance in the classroom and their behavior outside school as well. Fortunately many schools today are implementing programs that help prevent bullying and educate students, parents, teachers, and administrators on effective strategies to protect children.
The consequences of bullying can be devastating for children, affecting their performance in the classroom and their behavior outside school as well. Fortunately many schools today are implementing bullying prevention programs that help educate students, parents, teachers, and administrators on effective strategies to protect children. Learn more about this important issue at http://www.mentoringminds.com/
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