Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Hot Topics/Bullying
Bullying is defined in the literature as a repeated behavior that occurs over time in a relationships characterized by an imbalance of strength and power(Owens). With this imbalance of strength and power, it is difficult for the person being bullied to defend himself or herself. Bullying has become a major issue with today's growing society. It not only affects the child but it also cause issues within the home. The question however is, what might make someone turn into a bully or who becomes bullied? And what can parents and teachers do to help stop bulling before it gets to far.
Who Becomes a Bully?
Studies have shown that those who become bullied have no same background. Anyone who may have a weakness in themselves tend to become a bully. They may come from a broken home, or they have have bad grades with a problems of alcohol,or even maybe they are the popular kid that earns good grades but they bully because they want to maintain their popularity.Some kids bully as a reaction to the punishing lessons they learn at home at the hands of their parents.Some bullying is almost cultural in nature, in the sense that it is a kind of tradition in the school.For example, hazing that exists in many boarding schools or maybe the " traditional" bullying of freshman by older students. To understand the cause of bullying in a better light, two British researchers Peter Stephenson and David smith subdivided bullies into three different categories; dominating bullies, anxious bullies, and bully-victims.
- Dominating and Anxious
- The dominating and anxious bullies seem to come from homes where the sibling interaction is more dominate then the child=parent relationships. These homes are where the child has the habit of telling their sibling what to do without any parent saying anything can trigger the role of bulling.
- "About half of the bullies report to be victims as well."(Veenstra) Bully-victims are those children who have been victims themselves, either by their own peers, or even parents. They are also children who come from a home where they are rarely supervised, the discipline is inconsistent, and there is lack of love from mom and dad. The bully-victims are known as to be a bigger danger because they have more potential to use a weapon or join a gain because the angry that they may have is to high for them to think logical. Bully/victims demonstrate high levels of aggression and depression. They also have poor self esteem, social acceptance, self-control, and academics. Many are involved in alcohol abuse. "Bully/victims are among the most disliked members of a classroom." (Veenstra)
- Males Vs. Females
- Males outnumber females at a ratio five to four. Male bullies have a more dominate behavioral problem in class,and are unable to concentrate. Females on the other hand tend to be more talkative and rude. Bullying by boys is more aggressive than girls. Boys tend to do more hitting and threatening than girls. Girls tend to call each other names and/or kick someone out of their group by ignoring them. Some girls will steal from other girls as a form of bullying.
However, girl bullies are becoming frequently more common. Throughout the 1990's bullying by girls has become increasingly more violent , although many girl bullies still resort to rumors, and socially outcasting other students. "Bullying tends to occur between girls (primarily girl on girl) with different levels of power, based on physical attributes, personality, social status, or academic skills. As it is with boys, girl bullying seems to be a display of relative strength versus weakness." (Prothrow-Stith and Spivak). The movie "Mean Girls" is a prime example of the destructive nature of bullying.
Who Becomes a Victim?
So who becomes a victim of bullying? Most of use image those who are bullied as boys that are small with big glasses or girls who may not be up to the trends of today's society, or they may be of another race or culture. Stephenson and Smith yet again did another study on who gets bullied and found out that it goes deeper then gender, appearance or race.. These victims where classified into two groups, provocative victims and passive victims.
- Provocative Victims
- Provocative victims seem to draw bullying responses to them through repeatedly pestering baiting, insulting, invading, an another child's personal space.(Sheas 52) This occurrence is brought about because they have yet to understand the correct social behavior.
- Passive Victims
- Passive Victims are those who are shy or afraid. They have a weakness or they may seem to be weak in relationship with the bully. Passive victims may be smaller or are in a lower social standard and they are not willing to fight back.
Signs That a Child May Be Being Bullied
- At School
Children who may be bullied may display one or more of the following signs: 1)They have been teased in a hateful manner, 2)they are made fun of and laughed at in a derisive and unfriendly way. 3) They are involved in fights where they are defenseless from which they try to with draw, 4) they have their books, money or other belongings taken, damaged or scattered around, and 5) they have bruises, injuries, cuts or torn clothing that cannot be given a natural explanation.(Olweus 54)
- At Home
Children who may be bullied may display one or more of the following signs: 1) They come home from school with torn or disordered clothing, with damaged books, 2) They have bruises, cuts, and stratches, 3) choose an "illogical" route for going to and from school, 4)appear unhappy, sad, depressed, or show unexpected mood shifts with irritability and sudden outbursts of temper, and 5) request or steal extra money from family so they can accommodate to the bullies. (Olweus 57)
What Can Schools Do?
All members of a school community, young and/or old, have a responsibility to help people who are being harass by bullies and to speak out against bullying behavior. There are many cooperative ways that schools can help with the issue of bullying and peer pressure. These ideas help formulate where the issue is starting and how to resolve from it. Such ideas are: 1.) Carry out a survey which would show where bullying is happening and how many people are involved. 2.) Set up a “bully box” for people that are too scared to talk about bullying. Everything that is written and put in the box has to be true for it to work. 3.) Becoming a “buddy” of a younger student by getting to know them so that they become comfortable talking to the older buddy if bullying is happening. 4.) Have “Prevent Bullying Day.” This will help inform the students on what bullying is and how to prevent it. 5.) Put on a special play skit so the students know what it feels like to be bullied and what to do to stop it. Last but not least, arrange Peer Support Groups where older students volunteer to talk to younger students about bullying and friendship. Schools around the world have started intervention programs to help educate those who would want to know more information about this on going issue. These interventions have been known to reduce both direct and indirect bully incidents, they have a more positive attitude toward social relationships, academic work and the school itself, and also had no increase in bullying in other away from school.
What Can Parents Do?
The home plays the most important role because it helps form strong patterns of social interactions. Teaching children the core values can also help prevent bullying. Within the age of five a child should know that cruelty is unacceptable. If the child knows this then it is shown they that they are less likely to become a bully. Another way of to help your child to not become a bully is to show them how to handle pets and animals with care. This gives them and idea of compassion and empathy. But the most important thing is to give the child love. This helps them know that they are cared for and they will develop to become strong.
Dr. Prothrow-Stith suggests ways for parents to address and help to counter act bullying by girls. She uses the acronym "ART" to describe the ways parents can prevent their daughters from becoming bullies.
A: Act as a Role Model: By demonstrating appropriate ways to handle anger and handle self esteem issues can prevent girls from expressing their own personal anger and esteem issues on others.
R: Reach out to others: She also suggests that parents take an active role in getting to know the parents of their daughters friends. "Within the network of parents, share information in a way that allows you to understand the peer group's dynamics and prevent or respond effectively to any bullying."
T: Talk and Listen- The key to knowing whats going on in a child's life is communication. She suggests that parents ask regularly about problems that their daughter may be having in school (Prothrow-Stith and Spivak).
Statistics and Figures on Bullying
Several studies and surveys have been conducted with parents and students of various school districts and the results show just how much bullying there really is. Some of the statistics and facts are as follows:
- Studies have shown that 15-25% of US students are regularly bullied while 15-20% report that they bully others frequently.
- After talking with 3rd-8th graders in several Massachusetts schools, it showed that more than half of the students that were normally bullied said that it had been going on for six months or longer
- Physical and verbal bullying still increases during the elementary years, and typically peaks in middle school, while verbal abuse seems to be ongoing.
- An estimated 160,000 US students miss school each day because they are intimidated by their peers and are scared of being attacked.
Just knowing some of the statistics about bullying is enough for any parent to realize they should always be a part of their child’s lives and always want to know what’s going on. Some students will go through bullying every day but be too scared to tell their parents but the clues are always there and bullying will never go away.
Bullying is serious and should not be ignored. The affects can last a life time and without the help of parents and teachers the end result could be dangerous. Interventions not only helps the bullies and victims but can also help those who may be headed in a dangerous path. With the right guidance an motivation bullying could become no more and children would not have to worry about the mental and physical abuse anymore. From my experience of being bullied as a child and teen I can say that it was the worst experience I could ever go through. I had my moments when I was weak and thought I could not go on. Then I thought to myself they would win if I had done something dramatic, and I never wanted them to see that. So instead of dwelling of the fact that I was being bullied, I looked to the positive side of that I had friends that loved me and that's all that mattered. Fortunately for me, all those who bullied from middle school to my first couple years of high school either moved, or I never saw them again because I was taken higher honor classes when they were not. Being bullied is a awful thing to go through and I wish on those who do bully stop and think about what you are doing. What if you had a little sister or brother who was bullied and you saw the tears and pain they go through. More then likely it would break your heart, not only because it hurts your family but you can witness first hand what affects it has on the victims. From being bullied I have become a stronger person, who speaks up for herself more and is not afraid of telling it like it is. In some ways being bullied as a child help me become the adult that I am now. So thank you to all those who made fun of me in the past. You have helped me become the person I am today.
Multiple Choice Questions
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As an educator, how can you help prevent bullying?
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