Bullying directly affects students’ ability to learn.
- According to the Center for Disease Control, students who are bullied are more likely to experience low self-esteem and isolation, perform poorly in school, have few friends in school, have a negative view of school, experience physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomachaches, or problems sleeping), and to experience mental health issues (such as depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety) (Center for Disease Control, Bullying Surveillance Among Youths, 2014).
- Bullying affects witnesses as well as targets. Witnesses are more likely to use tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs; have increased mental health problems; and miss or skip school (StopBullying.gov).
Bystanders can be powerful allies.
- Students have a unique power to prevent bullying. More than half of bullying situations (57 percent) stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied (Hawkins, Pepler, & Craig, 2001) .
- Student bystanders are often aware of situations before adults in the school (Hawkins, Pepler, & Craig, 2001 ); it is therefore important that all students feel empowered to intervene safely in bullying situations. A school can facilitate this behavior by cultivating a climate of respect and tolerance within the school. Students should be encouraged to stand up for one another and such behavior should be recognized and rewarded.
- Since student bystanders can often intervene most effectively, it’s important for schools to encourage bystander intervention by teaching skills and offering resources that support this behavior. Schools should also seek to ensure that bystanders are protected and students know not to put themselves in danger.
- In a recent meta-analysis, it was found that programs are effective at changing bystander intervening behaviors whey there are opportunities for youth to discuss reasons why they might not intervene to help targets, develop understandings of others, and practice effective bystander intervention skills with role-plays (Polanin, Espelage, & Pigott, 2012).
Bullying is not a “rite of passage” but a serious threat to student safety and well-being.
- Some say bullying makes children tougher and is not a serious problem, but the reality is that students who are bullied are more likely to be depressed and/or suicidal. Student safety is at risk, and schools and communities have an obligation to protect their students.
- Students, parents, educators, and communities all have a responsibility to address bullying in schools, on line and in communities.
- Many students feel that the adults in their lives – parents, teachers, community members – are failing to adequately address this issue (Danielson & Emmers-Sommer, 2016; Tenenbaum, Varjas, Meyers, & Paris, 2011 ).
- Areas of concern include:
- Education – School avoidance, loss of academic achievement and increase in drop out rates
- Health – Physical and emotional including stomachaches, headaches, sleeping issues, depression, fear or anxiety
- Safety – Harm to self and others, including self-isolation, increased aggression, alienation, and retaliation.
Anyone can bully, and anyone can be bullied.
- Bullying is a behavior, not an identity. Labeling as student as a “bully” can have a detrimental effect on their future and often limits their ability to change their behavior (StopBullying.gov, 2016 ).
- Students can have multiple roles: they can be the one subjected to bullying and the one who bullies (StopBullying.gov, 2016 ). Strategies that focus on holding students accountable for their behavior – but also empower them to change that behavior – are more effective than punitive punishments and peer mediation in bullying situations.
- Any student can exhibit bullying behavior – male or female, popular or un popular, students with good grades, and those who struggle academically. Teachers need to focus on a student’s behavior, not their profile, when determining if bullying occurred.
Bullying isn’t about resolving conflict; bullying is about control.
- In conflict, children self-monitor their behavior and generally stop when they realize they are hurting someone.
- When bullying, children continue their behavior when they realize it is hurting someone, and are satisfied by a feeling of power and control.
- Bullying does not occur between evenly matched opponents; the child bullying has more power in some way than the target (Salmivalli, 2010 ).
Effective bullying prevention efforts involve students, parents, teachers, and community members.
- Involving community members such as law enforcement officials, faith organizations, community action groups, and others allows school officials and parents to address the bigger issues of disrespect, bias, and violence that can contribute to bullying issues in schools (StopBullying.gov, 2016; Swearer, Wang, Collins, Strawhun, & Fluke, 2014 ).
- A community-wide effort shows students that adults care what happens to them and that they are not alone.
- There are inconsistent findings for the effectiveness of zero-tolerance and peer mediation approaches to school bullying. Programs that emphasize prevention, early identification of students with behavioral concerns, and provide prosocial social skills instruction (e.g., building character and empathy, providing social- and emotional-development skills, and conflict management skills) are successful at reducing bullying behaviors and victimizations (Swearer, Wang, Collins, Strawhun, & Fluke, 2014 ).
- According to the Center for Disease Control , promising elements of bullying prevention programs include:
- Improved student supervision
- Using school rules and behavior management methods throughout the school to address bullying
- Implementing and enforcing a whole-school bullying prevention policy
- Encouraging cooperation between school staff, parents, and other professionals.
Danielson, C. M., & Emmers-Sommer, T. (2016). “She stopped me from killing myself”: Bullied bloggers’ coping behaviors and support sources. Health Communication, 1-10. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10410236.2016.1196419?journalCode=hhth20&
Polanin, J., Espelage, D. L., & Pigott, T. D. (2012). A meta-analysis of school-based bullying prevention programs’ effects on bystander intervention behavior and empathy attitude. School Psychology Review, 41, 47–65. Retrieved from https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-286719752/a-meta-analysis-of-school-based-bullying-prevention
Salmivalli, C. (2010). Bullying and the peer group: A review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 15, 112-120. Retrieved from http://njbullying.org/documents/bullyingandpeergrroup.pdf
StopBullying. (2016). Prevent bullying. Retrieved from https://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/index.html
Swearer, S. M., Wang, C., Collins, A., Strawhun, J., & Fluke, S. (2014). Bullying: A school mental health perspective. In M. Weist, N. Lever, C. Bradshaw, & O. J. Sarno (Eds.), Handbook of school mental health: Research, training, practice, and policy (2nd ed. Pp. 341-354). New York: NY: Springer Science http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-1-4614-7624-5_25
Tenebaum, L. S., Varjas, K., Meyers, J., & Parris, L. (2011). Coping strategies and perceived effectiveness in fourth through eighth grade victims of bullying. School Psychology International, 32, 263-287. Retrieved from http://spi.sagepub.com/content/32/3/263.abstract