Bullying in Schools
Different scholars and organizations define bullying in a different way. Nevertheless, there is a common definition of bullying. Bullying is defined as the repeated and intentional activities that take place through verbal, physical, and relational forms in circumstances where there is power difference. An individual is being bullied when he or she is more than one time exposed to negative actions of one or more people. The negative action is one that tries to expose the victim to injury or discomfort. The victim is unable to defend herself or himself against bullying behavior.
Bullying in schools is the most prevalent type of violence among teenagers and adolescents. Bullying is a public and global concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 20% of students were being bullied. Additionally, in a survey conducted in 2015, over 20 % of students aged 12 to a8 reported to being bullied, 13%reported to being called names, 5% had been physically injured, 3% reported to have been forced to do things they did not want to do, and almost 5% had their property destroyed intentionally. Out of these numbers, female students reported to more bullying at 23% as compared to males at 19%.
There are several types of bullying that are experienced by adults and children. Some are more direct while other are indirect. They include:
1. Physical bullying
Physical bullying includes damaging or destroying an individual’s belongings, hurting a person, or taking their belongings without their permission. Therefore, physical bullying involves:
- Biting, pinching, kicking, or hitting someone, and spitting on someone.
- Destroying or stealing an individual’s possession.
- Making someone afraid of being hurt.
- Making hand gestures and movements that are rude to the other person.
- Touching a person without their consent.
- Intimidating and tripping another person who has no power to stop the activities.
2. Verbal bullying
As the name suggests, verbal bullying is the use of words or writings that are mean and irritating to another person who has no power to stop the bully. Verbal bullying involves;
- Calling of names.
- Teasing a person in a way that they find it hurtful.
- Commenting or making jokes on the race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, or disability of someone.
- Making hurtful comments on the physical features of a person like their height and weight.
- Making inappropriate sexual comments.
- Threatening a person.
3. Social bullying
Social bullying involves destroying the reputation and relationships of an individual. It occurs in several circumstances including:
- Lack of involvement of a person in an issue they are supposed to be involved or something that needs their input.
- Telling other people not to be friends with a certain individual just because the bully does not like that person.
- Spreading false accusations and rumors about someone.
- Destroying relationships and friendships that exist with false accusations and incitement.
- Public embarrassment.
- Spreading images and information to the public about a person that is harmful to that individual’s reputation.
- Telling false stories about someone with the intention of attracting the crowd or more people towards the speaker.
Cyberbullying is a type of bullying that involves the use of technology and digital devices including hardware like phones and computers, and software like instant messaging, social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, websites, and more other online platforms. Cyberbullying happens at any time provided the target has been identified. It can happen in public where the offender exposes the individual to the public through several online platforms, or private where the victim and offender are the only ones aware of the activities. Therefore, cyber bullying takes many forms including:
- Sending hurting or abusive emails, posts, videos, and images to the victim.
- Intentionally excluding people from social medial platforms.
- Spreading false rumours and comments about someone.
- Using other people’s login credentials
- Imitating other people on social media platforms without their consent or in a way that is hurtful.
Bullying has both long term and short term effects on the victim, bully, and bystander. Bullying is associated with many effects on mental health, suicide, and substance abuse.
Effects of bullying on the victim
After or during bullying by a peer, different children exhibit various behaviour. Some of the short term effects on the victim include; constant feelings of shame, isolation from peers, disturbances during sleep, several changes in the eating patterns, low self-esteem, the child starts avoiding school, wetting the bed, increased risks to illnesses, constant headaches, muscle aches, and other physical pains with no medical causes, performing poorly in school, and depression symptoms.
On the other hand, victims experience long-term effects without intervention. These effects include; chronic depression, increased risk of suicide attempts, thoughts, and plans, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), poor general health, self-destructive behaviour, drug and substance abuse, and inability to keep relationships. With proper intervention, these effects can be stopped and the victim helped to get back to normal.
Effects of bullying on the bully
It can be difficult to empathize with the bully but it is vital that parents and teachers realise that bullies engage in the behaviour because of various reasons. Without help, bullies tend to continue with the behaviour which tends to worsen with time. Some of the short term effects to the bully include; poor performance in school due to missed lessons as a result of suspensions or expulsions, risk of truancy, challenging in starting and keeping healthy relationships, and increased risk of drug and substance abuse.
Without proper intervention, bullying behaviour extends to adulthood. Some of the long term effects include; risk of domestic violence, antisocial behaviour, substance and drug abuse, and risk of unemployment.
Effect of bullying on bystanders
There are effects and challenges that children who witness bullying go through. These effects include; increased substance and drug abuse, elevated mental health problems for example anxiety and depression, and finally missing or skipping school. The bystander will skip school out of fear of being bullied because he or she was a witness.
The above effects of bullying ring a bell to authorities, teachers, parents, and the society. Every individual has a role to play in stopping bullying in schools. Childhood bullying has serious effects on the long-term and shot-term health of children. Proper and immediate intervention needs to be put in place. Therefore, schools, families, and community needs to collaborate and work together to understand the whole aspect of bullying, it effects, and implement programs that are helpful in stopping the menace in communities and schools.
There are several anti-bullying programs that exist in schools and are used at a global level. These programs include:
Bullying prevention curriculum
This is a curriculum directed by the teacher. It uses an age-appropriate and multi-strategy approach. The resources and publications used to explore the key skills, knowledge, and modifications that need to be made to make schools free of bullying. The curriculum has fun and engaging activities that address bullying and create awareness of bullying in schools.
This program addresses the behaviors and attitudes related to cyberbullying. It consists of a curriculum that has eight sessions and other extra resources on a CD-ROM that addresses different issues. These extra resources include;
- Resources for parents that are reproducible. Parents can read and understand all the issues involved in cyberbullying and how to address the issues and concerns.
- Resources for students that are reproducible. This is a fact sheet that a student can print out and read on the different aspects of cyberbullying.
- Student handouts and posters that can be reproduced and distributed to create awareness.
- School policies and legal concerns on cyberbullying.
- Training materials for peer leaders. Peer leaders carry out training on cyberbullying using the resources available in the curriculum.
- A facilitator training program on cyberbullying.
3. Don’t Laugh at Me- Operation Respect
This is an anti-bullying program designed for use by middle and elementary school goers. The program addresses ridiculing, bullying, harassing, and teasing that is carried in schools. The program uses videos, music, guides, and instructions to help students point out and recognize bullying in any environment, develop compassion towards others, and understand the effects of bullying. Furthermore, the program provides teachers with strategies to use in helping students solve their conflicts in a good and peaceful manner.
4. Kids against bullying program
This is a program that teaches children and adults about various ways to prevent and stop bullying. It is a website that has five children characters. These characters show children with and without disabilities. Children in grades 1 to 3 are the most appropriate to using this program. The program defines bullying, different forms of bullying, and the reasons why no person should be bullied. The characters present skits on physical, verbal, and social bullying. Thereafter, students are given the opportunity to ask questions and to share their ideas and opinions.
Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP)
OBPP is a program designed for students aged 5 to 15. It allows every student to participate with special attention to bullying victims and offenders. The program provides books, videos, and lesson plans on bullying. Furthermore, the program is effective in helping teachers, students, community, and classrooms develop extensive bullying plans. Additionally, the program helps schools and other organizations find resources and funding for their anti-bullying programs in cases where they want them implemented.
The bully free Program
This is a comprehensive school-wide program that addresses bullying. It is research based because it includes administrative strategies, strategies for teachers, meeting for different classes, strategies for different classes in schools, empowerment of bystanders, and involvement of students with the aim of stopping bulling in schools. The program also has provisions for parents, community, and all the other elements that need to be included in an anti-bullying program.
The Bullying project curriculum
This is an anti-bullying program that focuses on administrators of middle school and teachers. The program is introductory and introduces teachers and administrators to the prevalence and effects of bullying among adolescents in schools. The topics addressed in this program include the negative impact of bullying, the laws that address bullying in schools, approaches in schools to address bullying, and activities that students need to be involved in to stop bullying.
Utterly Global- stand up, speak out…end bullying
This program targets the younger people who need to develop healthy social, emotional, and cognitive environments. This program provides a guide on how to incorporate anti-bullying messages in classrooms. Teachers have the mandate to encourage acts of kindness, tolerance, and bully-free behaviour. The program can be implemented in several ways because it is flexible. Some of the topics covered in this program include; definition of bullying, types of bullying, and ways to stop bullying. Parents are educated, parents are encouraged to promote anti-bullying activities at home, songs, and other materials that address bullying and how to stop it are included in the program.
Practical strategies for Bullying Reduction and Prevention
- School polices need to emphasize on emotional and social climate in school through replacing punishments with meditation and positive behaviour encouragement.
- Schools need to have policies that promote positive behaviour and proper communication among students.
- Parents and teachers paying closer attention to bullying behaviour and stopping it immediately.
- Installation of security cameras and systems in schools to stop bullying because students will be under 2 hours surveillance.
- Behaviour change communication in schools and classrooms to address bullying and different ways to stop or prevent bullying.
- Parents to show more love and empathy towards their children. This positive gestures send a message to children and thus promote positive behaviour.
- Parents and teachers to encourage children and students to report any cases of bullying to relevant authorities. This is whether the student or child is a bystander or a victim.
- Children who are being bullied should be in the company of friends or an adult and avoid being alone.