First of all, we need to look at the definition of what bullying is? A person is being bullied when he or she is exposed repeatedly to negative actions on the part of one or more persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself. The definition has three important components:
Bullying is aggressive behavior that involves unwanted, negative action.
Bullying involves a pattern of behavior repeated over time.
Bullying involves an imbalance of power or strength.
Bullying can take on several forms. Bullying to one individual may actually be just playing around to another individual. Perception of the one who is receiving the signals is extremely important. In many cases the student is doing the bullying because it makes the student feel better about themselves because of problems with their self-esteem. They actually project their problems with their self-esteem on others by conflicting pain. However, in many cases the student has learned this type of behavior from his or her parents. So many times we unknowing realize what we are teaching our children by:
* Verbal bullying by making bad derogatory comments and bad names in front of our children (particularly in divorce situations)
* Bullying through social exclusion or isolation of neighbors and individuals we work with or individuals who are different from us regardless of the reason
* In many cases due to problems with family violence situations children see physical bullying in their own home by parents and siblings hitting, kicking, shoving, and spitting (How many times have you heard or thought it is normal for brothers and sisters to fight? Is this appropriate and should this be normal?)
* Many times we bully others in front of our children by lies and false rumors about individuals we do not like.
* Many times children see racial, sexual, and disabled bullying by jokes we tell or just by our actions. Actions say things words never have to say. How many inappropriate bald jokes have you told to someone losing their hair? Things like this may be funny to the person telling the joke but may be extremely painful to the receiver of the joke.
* Many times we Cyber bully on this website and do not even realize what we are doing as we are just voicing our opinions (Cyber bullying is via phone or internet) From time to time most of us on this site are voicing opinions of individuals without all the facts which may cause pain to someone else. Often when we expressing our opinions on this site it may make us feel good, but the false rumors we may spread may devastate the rumored person.
Each of us needs to examine the example we actually are setting in front of our children. As teachers sometimes we have this saying that normally the apple never falls far from the tree. In reality, when I meet many parents through me 29 years of teaching I do see the behaviors many times of parents that are so much like their child’s behaviors. I leave parent conferences on occasion when there are behavioral issues, and in the back of my mind I totally understand where the child’s behaviors are coming from. The child sees these behaviors from a parent daily. Our schools appear to keep in check racial bullying but have problems with sexual orientation and sexual bulling. Could this be because of the example we exhibit in front of our children regarding this topic? Do our children think this is not a serious offense?
But enough about us as parents, why do some students bully in school? Many students who bully have strong need for power and negative dominance. Many students who bully find satisfaction in causing injury and suffering to other students. Many students who bully actually have low self-esteems so bullying makes others look bad and makes them feel good about themselves. Many times students who bully are often rewarded in some way for their behavior with material or psychological rewards from their peers.
Bullying is a serious issue in our schools. By looking at the following data you would never suspect bullying was against 36 state laws:
* That twenty three percent of students in grade 4-6 have been bullied several times or more
* Twenty percent of students 4-6 in grade indicate that they have bullied others
* Seventeen percent of students in grade 6-12 report having been bullied “sometime”
* Eight percent of students in grade 6-12 have been bullied once a week
* Nineteen percent of students in grade 6-12 said they had been a bully to others “sometimes”
* Three out of four students report that they have been bullied.
* Ninety percent of students felt being bullied caused social, emotional, or academic problems.
* Each year, 1 out of 13 kids under the age of 19 attempt suicide, a rate that has tripled in the last 20 years. Last year, more than 2,000 of them succeeded — a staggering number that can be blamed largely on bullying.
* Victims are mostly boys, but girls are increasingly being bullied. Bullying is reported as most severe in grades 7-9 with 4-6 next.
* Sixty-nine percent of students believe schools respond poorly to reports of bullying and victimization.
* Ridicule/teasing, verbal harassment, and practical jokes are the most frequently reported forms of bullying. Physical attacks are reported less frequently.
* Forty-four percent of teachers believe disruptive school behaviors are getting worse.
* Each month over 250,000 students report being physically attacked. One in five school students report avoiding rest rooms out of anxiety about safety.
* A high percentage of students who are absent from school can be blamed on bullying. Students have a high level of stress related illnesses when they are being bullied.
We also must also teach our students or our children not to be bystanders and allow this to happen around them. We need to teach our students/children to tell the student bullying to “Stop” and to under no circumstance allow anyone to bully another student in front of them. We need to make sure the student who is bullying does not receive any positive feedback for his or her actions from our children/students around him.
Without a doubt we need to hold teachers, administrators, school board members, and the superintendant responsible to make sure our schools are safe from violence of any kind and to make sure that bullying is not occurring in anyway in the DeKalb County Schools. We also need to hold them responsible to make sure every parent who walks in with a concern gets the same respect as the president of the PTA or a school board member. However, in my personnel opinion, we do not need to project all the blame on these individuals. We do need to take some responsibility as members of a society that does not show respect and acceptance to individuals who are not like us. We need to think about the joke we are telling or rumor we are spreading about someone. We need to teach our children tolerance and set an example of the behaviors we would like to see. We need to teach our children to tell students who are bullying to “STOP” or leave the student being bullied along. The way the school system handles a bullying situation is definitely only part of the problem. The problem is much bigger than this, and we must all look in our hearts to see what changes each of us might be able to make to change the bullying situation in our society. It is worth making the changes in each of our behaviors, to try to prevent one child or one person in our society from feeling the pain of being bullied.
Based on the above my recommendation to lawmakers and policymakers would be the following law or school board policies in schools regarding NO TOLERANCE FOR BULLING. On the first offense I would suggest the student would be given consequences and the parents would be called. On the second or subsequence offense the school system must report the incident to the Department of Family and Children's Services (DFACS) for a formal investigation to help determine the percipitating cause of the bullying and to allow DFACS if necessary to remove the child from the home or require other needed services or consequences for the bullier.
What do you think? What can you do to make a difference?