Bullying: Causes, and Prevention

Bullying is characterized by repeated aggressive behavior accompanied by a power imbalance and the intent to harm. The victims of bullying often feel threatened and powerless. The effects of bullying can be destructive, persistent, and even subtle enough to sneak past teachers unnoticed. Considering that bullying can cause long-term psychological, emotional, and physical issues, it is imperative that teachers recognize and combat bullying for the sake of their students.    

TYPES OF BULLYING

DIRECT BULLYING:  A combination of verbal and physical bullying. Typically, verbal bullying involves a speech or written comment that emotionally harms the targeted individual. Physical bullying involves physically injuring a student or damaging their property. An example of direct bullying is hitting a student along with calling them names or using foul language.  

INDIRECT BULLYING:  Mostly verbal and experienced mostly in schools. One example of this type of behavior would be spreading false information about another student with the intent of humiliating them.  

PHYSICAL: Most common form of aggression and bullying among boys, related to dominance as compared to relational. Behavioral examples include hitting, kicking, and threatening violence.  

RELATIONAL:  The most prevalent form of aggression and bullying among girls (as compared to physical) involves the manipulation of social standing or reputations. Examples include spreading rumors and social exclusion.  

CYBER: The use of electronic devices to harm others. Bullying of this type is especially harmful since it is more difficult to identify the perpetrators, it can spread more rapidly and impulsively, and it leaves a physical record that is difficult to erase from cyberspace. People who are subjected to cyberbullying are also often subjected to traditional offline bullying.    

CAUSES OF BULLYING

Bullying can be caused by various factors, which means any student can become a target regardless of their gender, race, religion, or socioeconomic status. Understanding why students bully others could help teachers to better combat bullying. There are a number of factors that can lead to bullying, including differences in appearance, social status, race, and sexual orientation. As reported by the National Center for Educational Statistics, 25 percent of African American students were bullied in 2016, as opposed to 22 percent of Caucasians and 17 percent of Hispanics.   While some bullies are low-self-esteemed, there are others who are very confident in themselves. Self-confident people are less likely to show compassion and empathy and can be aggressive whenever they feel threatened. Social issues and current events may exacerbate bullying issues. For instance, bullying based on sexual orientation has increased as discussions surrounding LGBTQIA (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, queers, intersex, and asexuals) have intensified over the past few years.   Some students bully because they desire attention and to be perceived as brave and confident. The effects of abuse and neglect at home, as well as divorce, can lead students to bully others out of despair, anger, or jealousy.  

EFFECTS OF BULLYING

Low self-esteem, insomnia, depression, and suicidal thoughts and actions are common emotional side effects. Moreover, students who are bullied are twice as likely to suffer from health problems such as headaches and stomach problems. Bullying in the formative years of school can have harmful effects. Bullied students may have poor academic performance because their interest and participation in school decrease, and they may suffer unexplained injuries and self-destructive behaviors. According to a 2016 National Center for Educational Statistics survey, 14% of bullied students have academic difficulties. Bullying not only affects the students but also their families and classmates. Families of bullying targets may feel confused and powerless, which may lead to depression, anxiety, and stress disorders. In some cases, parents will become overprotective if they feel they did not protect them properly. A student who is bullied may feel powerless, guilty about not standing up for the target, and fear becoming the next target.   

HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF BULLYING

Scientific research indicated that experiencing bullying has short and long-term psychological and emotional impacts on both victims and perpetrators. As a consequence, absenteeism increases either because of direct or indirect psychological consequences. Those who were bullied reported poor mental and physical health, more symptoms of anxiety and depression; feeling sad, being lonely; vomiting; sleep disturbances; nightmares; abdominal pain; body ache and headache; and frequent illnesses. Every student, whether they are bullies, victims, or bystanders, reports suicidal behavior. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in students aged 15-29. Students who experienced bullying are two times at risk for have suicidal ideation and are 2.6 times more likely to attempt suicide than other students who did not experience bullying. Recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data indicates that 17.7% of school-aged students attempted suicide within the past year. Substance abuse, violent behavior, and depression are the most common mediated factors between bullying and suicide.    

SCHOOL BASED INTERVENTION TO PREVENT AND REDUCE BULLYING

  • School policies should reflect a zero-tolerance for weapons, discrimination, harassment, and gang activity.
  • A culture of intolerance for violence needs to be fostered in schools by consistently and fairly enforcing all policy guidelines.
  • To improve the development of mental resilience, schools must develop professional training and development programs.
  • To ensure student safety, anti-bullying policies should be implemented consistently across all schools.
  • Establish positive behavior support systems and behavior management skills to identify bullying in the classroom and the school.
  • Create a program that helps students gain skills in resolution, negotiations, listening, communication, and decision-making.
  • In order to identify students facing challenges and crises early, schools should implement a systematic protocol.
  • Policies at schools must encourage the promotion of social and emotional development by replacing detention with meditation and improving students’ mental resilience.
  • Antibullying programs at schools could benefit from peer interventions. Peers who possess high self-efficacy are more likely to defend negative behavior and they are more likely to act against bullying.

EDUCATORS CAN PREVENT BULLYING IN SCHOOL BY :

  1. Emphasize kindness and empathy in the classroom.
  2. Provide opportunities for connection.
  3. Identify “gateway behaviors”.
  4. Incorporate art into creating context.
  5. Limit the number of concentric circles at schools.
  6. Simulation activities.
  7. Promoting a positive school climate.
  8. Improving social and emotional learning.

SCHOOLS CAN’T DO THIS ALONE

Families are also important. School bullying sometimes results from harsh parenting or sibling bullying. Parental workplaces can affect bullying, too. Almost as much bullying occurs among adults at work as it does with children, and the problem is even prevalent among teachers and senior community residents. So, bullying is not merely a childhood problem; it is widespread throughout society. The wider social world is not buffered from children in schools and playgrounds more broadly. Bullying of children who are members of groups targeted in the national political discourse has risen. Our mindset needs to change significantly regarding the importance of children and their feelings. We can help children thrive by nurturing their humanity and providing them with language as well as strategies and values that help them understand, express, and then regulate their feelings.   School leaders can lead by educating parents, teachers, and administrators about the complex roots of bullying and adopting new strategies for addressing it. Our children rely on us.  

FACTS AND STATISTICS ABOUT AND HARASSMENT

A study in 2010 found that 20 percent of girls and 25 percent of boys had been bullied, bullied others, or both in the past month. 90% of third to fifth-grade students believe they feel sorry for bullied students, but sympathy does not always translate into action. According to a study published in 2009, at least 20.8% of youth in the US experienced physical bullying, 53.6% were verbally bullied, 51.4% were socially bullied, and 13.6% were cyberbullied at least once during a two-month period. Cyberbullying victims are often unwilling to report their bullying and are eight times more likely to carry weapons to school.   According to a 2011 study, bullying at age 14 predicted violent convictions between ages 15 and 20, self-reported violence at ages 15 to 18, and drug use between ages 27 and 32.  

DISCLAIMER

In spite of the anti-bullying initiatives that are in place almost everywhere, bullying is a widespread problem in schools around the world. Researchers have suggested numerous practical strategies for preventing and reducing school bullying. Students, parents, teachers, and other community members must be an integral part of bullying prevention programs that define bullying in a clear manner to the community and include them as core team members. Students must learn how to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts positively, and be empathic toward others in order to have a safe environment for learning and growing up.

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