Bullying in Schools
Bullying is nowadays found in almost every school. It is deeply rooted and school authorities should recognize the extent, and impact of the behavior, and take steps to stop it from happening. Where bullying is ignored, there is a group of pupils who will be harassed by their peers. This can have diverse effects on the victims, affecting them even academically and there evidence that bullies most at times became domestic violent or criminals. What is bullying?
According to Burns& Peyrot, 2010, bullying refers to the infliction of repeated physical, verbal or psychological torture to an individual who cannot adequately defend themselves. Physical bullying involves hitting, kicking or taking personal belongings. Verbal bullying may include name calling, insulting or racist remarks towards the bullied person. Spreading nasty rumors and excluding others from a group is also a form of bullying.
Researchers have found out that, those who bully do so because they want to be popular and get support of their peer group, (Tozer, 2009). If the person, being bullied shows signs of being affected, and if the peer group silently or even actively colludes with the bully. It is a sign of support, and it is understandable that the bully will stay with that behavior.
Victims of bullying are often the silent students who do not socialize much. The bullied often find it difficult to start and maintain friendships and have little status within a group. They will not challenge their tormentor and will either retreat further or overreact. They don't get the support of their assertive classmates who find them unappealing. They are less likely to seek help from the authorities as they may be scared to seek support from the teachers.
Those who are affected by bullying are selectively chosen. They will most at times let the bully get away with it. The targeted ones are always smaller or weaker than the other students and, therefore, cannot physically defend themselves against the bullies. They may also be more anxious, quiet or insecure than the others. The bullied most at times do not have any reliable friends. Those affected may also be differing from the other children. These may be through learning disability, or the physically handicapped. Speech, language, skin color or race may be the other criteria for choosing those to bully. Students who are known to cry easily may also be bullied. These group of students are prone to bullying and need to be protected from it as well as help in changing their own behavior. If the behavior, attracting this treatment is controllable.
There are many factors believed to contribute to bullying. In, Australia, research shows that bullies lack sympathy, are uncooperative and come from dysfunctional families that are hostile. Their parents tend to criticize and strictly control them. Harsh physical punishments such as beatings are also known to contribute to bullying behavior. In U.S a study found out that bullies are often punished violently with no form of understanding, these feelings of being uncared for are compensated by bullying. Those who bully in the early grades are initially popular but with advanced age, bullying is less regarded by peers and those who became popular are those who do not bully. The history of the relationship between a parent and the child may contribute to cultivating a bully. Low levels of peer and teacher intervention combine to contribute opportunities for chronic bullies to thrive.
Bullying most often occurs in places where adult supervision is low or absent. These may be places like the schoolyard, cafeteria, hallway or the bathroom. For example, bullying may occur in the cafeteria as the students vie for places in line for food. Lately, a new kind of bullying has emerged. This is the cyber bullying where derogatory material can be posted in the internet about a person or a group of people. This is extremely traumatizing as anyone who logs onto the site will be able to see what was posted about someone. ( Sampson, 2004).
There are several attempts at solving the bullying problem in schools. Schools have been known to isolate the bullying person. Remove the bully from the environment, during this period, they should be talked to and made to understand the ills of bullying. Involvement of parents may be necessary to ensure seriousness of this kind of punishment.
Ensuring that the victim has access to a bully free environment is another way of solving the problem. These may involve using other supporters like reliable peers, teacher aids, and senior volunteers who may be prepared to spend time with the isolated victim. This can however be a short-term measure as extensive isolation may affect them negatively. Working with persistent offenders can be the other way of solving the issue. They may be lacking the social skills necessary for interacting with others and this may have to be impacted on them.
Peers counselors are helpful in helping people speak out about their problems. These are trained and they are an easy contact, they listen and may encourage the bully and the victim to sit down and talk about what is going on. This may help the bully modify the bad behavior. Enlisting the school principal’s commitment and involvement in solving the problem is a way towards conquering the bad behavior of bullying. This will lead to low rates of bullying in the school as the bullies will be scared of the consequences of being caught. Using a multifaceted approach of establishing a school policy on the consequences of bullying is also another way of controlling bullying. There should be well provided guidelines for teachers, other staff and students on the actions to take if bullying occurs.
According to the Society for Safe and Caring School Communities (2005). Educating and involving parents so they can understand the problem, recognize its signs and intervene appropriately is another way to help curb the problem of bullying in schools. Parents should be able to ascertain if their children are being bullied in school or if their children are bullies. This could manifest itself by the reluctance to go to school if being bullied or coming with items that are not theirs if a child is a bully.
The release time from classrooms should be checked and not allow for students to be on recess at the same time. This will reduce the time or likelihood of the bullies meeting their targeted victims to bully. Monitoring of hallways and cafeterias should be put in place. Apart from that, posting classroom signs prohibiting bullying and listing the consequences of bullying would be helpful. Lastly, providing teachers with effective classroom management training is mandatory. Some of the bullies have psychological problems and that is what drives them to bullying, such students can be helped if spotted by the teacher. This may require specialized training to be able to deal with these students. Having the late enrolling students briefed on the schools rules and regulations is advised so that it rules out any excuse a student may have for bullying.
Historically, bullying among school children and the youth has not been a topic of great concern in the public. With bullying being viewed as a rite of passage. However, the attention has increased with bullying being an area of concern among parents, teachers and the policy makers. Several states nowadays include legislative findings about bullying in their statutes. These reflect the seriousness with which the issue is being viewed at the moment. Several state laws encourage schools to have a bullying prevention program to ensure a reduction in the bullying cases.
Several agencies and social systems have come up to help address the problem. For example, the Manchester Anti bullying Agency that provides practical guidelines to schools in Manchester. It helps in raising awareness about bullying, develops policies and deals with bullying where necessary. These agencies investigate and deal appropriately with various cases of bullying and give guidelines on how to deal with bullying in cases where there is no knowledge of the same. They also organize training sessions for the teachers so that they may be in a position to deal with the bullies. Some of the bullies as we have seen earlier are psychologically disturbed and thee agencies may provide the necessary guidance and counseling to help them steer from this annoying habit. There are agencies like the Child line, Kidscape Campaign for Childrens Safety, Education Otherwise Association, Advisory Centre for Education and Bullywatch. All these agencies help in a variety of ways with the bullying issue.
Looking at one agency, Bullywatch, an organization based in Yate, Bristol, UK. It aims at supporting those who are being bullied by listening to their problems and helping them try to resolve those problems. It helps anyone involved in the bullying, like the bullies themselves, those bullied and the parties who witness the bullying process. Bullywatch helps people all over the place, at school, in college, university or even at work. Bullywatch runs workshops on issues such as self esteem and confidence building, anger management, signs and symptoms of bullying or being bullied, self harm, being safe on the internet and homophobic bullying. These workshops can help a whole multitude of people including parents.
Through Bullywatch, there has been a lot of help on the issues of bullying that affect people. It offers various programs based on the ages of the individuals. For example, there is a bullying board game to encourage discussion about bullying between young people and adults. This is aimed at 7-12 year olds. The board game has been taken to a number of schools and the response has been great. There is a new project Billy that will help the younger children understand what bullying is. Billy can appear in events such as shows and kids parties.
Bullywatch relies on donations to keep running. It raises a number of fundraising activities to raise money for producing materials to help children in schools understand more about bullying and its consequences. Though it has been trying, it has been quite a task to raise funds to enable it pursue the activities it would love to engage in to ensure its maximum potential. The donations that they depend on are not always forthcoming coming. Maybe a little support from the government would steer them to greater potential (Oakley, 2011).
Bullying is a social ill that affects children very much with some of them even opting for suicide. All of us should strive to ensure that it is a gone and forgotten vice in our schools. Bullying should be looked at even in the offices where some form of bullying tends to occur although it is so much overlooked.