How to stop bullying in school
When a parent sends a child to school, they want the child to acquire quality education, have an opportunity to establish strong friendships, and have proper preparation for their future life. However, most of all, parents want their children to be secure and safe. Therefore, one of the major challenges of the education system, as well as society in general, lies in the question – how to prevent and stop bullying in school?
This process can succeed only if parents, school staff, and various health and human services join their forces.
What is school bullying?
The Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Education define bullying as any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) that involves an imbalance of power, and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated.
In other words, it refers to behaviors where a child uses their power to jeopardize, control or hurt another child through threats, spreading rumors, physical or verbal assault, or exclusion from the group.
How frequent is bullying in schools?
According to the available data for the United States 20% of students aged 12 through 18 experience bullying. Imbalance of power between bullies and victims and the violence that stems from it can take various forms and can be the consequence of a variety of causes. Students who were bullied claimed that bullies:
- had the ability to influence other students’ perception of them (56%)
- had more social influence (50%)
- were physically stronger or larger (40%)
- had more money (31%)
What does bullying look like?
Bullying occurs in various forms, and it is therefore not always easy to identify. The most frequent forms of bullying are:
- Verbal bullying – making someone feel bad through spoken or written remarks; it has been estimated that about 26% of students aged 12–18 have suffered this form of bullying.
- Social bullying – negatively affecting someone’s reputation and social connections; around 18.6% of students aged 12–18 have experienced this type of bullying.
- Physical bullying – endangering physical safety or property; 9.2% of children aged 12–18 have been physically bullied.
- Cyberbullying – this type of bullying that usually occurs in cyberspace through Facebook and/or other social media; 15% of students aged 12–18 report that they have been victims of cyberbullying.
Where can bullying occur?
Bullying situations can occur anywhere within school, which sometimes makes it a real challenge to notice and prevent bullying:
- 43.4% of children claim that they have experienced bullying in the school hallway or stairwell
- as many of 42.1% have been victims of bullying in the classroom
- 26. 8% have had negative experiences in the school cafeteria
- 21.9% have faced unwanted peer behavior outside on school grounds
- whereas 12.1% have had such experiences in the locker room or bathroom
What are the effects of bullying?
Victims of school bullying can experience a range of physical, social, academic, and mental health issues. These are also the warning signs that need to be accounted for if there is doubt that someone has been a victim of bullying.
Although the focus is mostly on the negative effects of bullying on the victims, it needs to be said that the bullies themselves suffer negative consequences of their actions, too. If not corrected in time, such actions can lead to problems with fitting into society, and with developing positive feelings and desirable behavioral patterns later in life. Bullies are at risk of alcohol abuse in adulthood, as well as of getting into fights, leaving school, relationship violence, and criminal behavior.
It is usually thought that there are two sides in bullying: the bully and the victim. However, there is also the third party, which can also suffer negative effects of bullying, albeit without direct involvement. They are the observers of bullying. Certain research has shown that children who have witnessed bullying can engage in absenteeism, be prone to excessive use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs in adulthood, and develop a number of psychological issues.
Simply put, bullying often results in a number of negative effects not only on the entire personality, but also on the whole society.
Why the question of how to prevent bullying in school is paramount
The important thing to know is that bullying is not only the school’s problem.
Undesirable behavior in children is often a consequence of certain problems and challenges faced by society in general. However, school is certainly a right place to react in order to prevent bullying if it takes place. The reason is simple: bullying that is not stopped at school will transfer elsewhere, to the entire society. Unless they get help, both bullies and their victims will face difficulties growing up and trying to fit into society. This is why bullying is an example of a problem that needs to be nipped in the bud.
10 ways to prevent bullying in school
There are a number of positive actions and practices that can prevent the occurrence of bullying in schools.
1. Recognizing the problem
Statistics show that only 46% of students aged 12–18 who have been victims of bullying report it to the teachers. This is one of the first tasks en route to preventing and stopping bullying is: address bullying.
Negating the problem, making light of it or avoiding to seriously tackle it will not only fail to make it disappear, but also allow it to grow. The students need to be encouraged to speak about bullying, to report it, and to stand for their peers who are its victims.
2. Providing bullying prevention protocols
Schools must have clear procedures and rules for the prevention of bullying, familiar to and uncompromisingly observed by all. The school staff ought to be trained to put these rules into practice; they include guidelines on: recognizing (potential) violence, preventing it, reacting to it and stopping it, adequate punishment for the perpetrators, and support for the victims.
3. Creating a safe environment
An environment where a student feels safe and secure is an environment where they can optimally thrive. A good school ought to be this kind of environment at all times. One of the ways to achieve this is through education and training of the school staff regarding the prevention of bullying. The United States Department of Health emphasizes that it is important that the teachers, the administration, and the students themselves can speak up against bullying and stand up for those who suffer it.
4. Determining the profile of a bully
Bullying can happen to anyone, and based on the experience, it can be concluded that there is no single specific profile of a bully. Actually, a bully can be someone who is socially accepted, as well as someone who is marginalized. Also, a bully can also be a victim of bullying. This is why it is so important to approach the problem of school bullying without prejudice, because a bully is not always easy to identify. One needs to be mindful and search for the signs, causes and consequences of violence with utmost care.
5. Paying attention to signs of bullying
As the available data shows, many students do not report bullying, mostly out of fear or a sense of shame. This is why the teachers, the school staff, as well as the parents need to pay special attention to the child’s behavior. If the student avoids school activities, suddenly starts getting lower grades, or exhibiting unusual changes in behavior, it is possible that they have become a victim of violence. In this case, the child needs to receive the necessary support.
6. Implementing bullying prevention programs
Various bullying prevention programs for elementary and high school students offer a number of strategies that help approach the problem of bullying in a serious manner. Evidence has indicated that these programs can reduce bullying.
7. Focusing on social-emotional learning
Letting the students develop emotional intelligence, learn to listen and understand how others feel, and speak openly about their problems can play an important role in bullying prevention. Emotional learning leads to positive behavior, developed social skills and good mental health. In other words, it helps the individual feel good about themself and their achievements, never wish to harass others, and always be willing to stand up for them.
8. Engaging parents
Parents certainly play an invaluable role in the upbringing of their children. Therefore, it is important that the school should always be available to them and willing to join forces with them in order to make the best decisions when it comes to the child’s development and advancement. The problem of bullying is a problem of both the parents and the school. They can reach a solution together. The parent should be there for the child and create an environment of trust between themself and the child, so that the child could feel free to tell them if bullying has occurred at school. In that case, the parent should report it to the school and the solution ought to be sought through combined effort.
If their child is the bully, the parents should talk to the child and explain why such behavior is unacceptable and what its consequences are. A child can learn a lot from the stance that the parents take on bullying.
If the school chooses to engage parents and they work as a team towards a solution to the problem of bullying, the chances of reaching a satisfactory solution are much higher.
9. Organizing workshops and lectures on undesirability of bullying
One of the right ways to approach the problem is speaking about it openly. The school can organize a series of lectures and workshops on the harmfulness and undesirability of bullying, and the importance of support and openness. They can be held exclusively for the students, as well as open for their parents, and even the entire community. The problem of bullying can be discussed by successful people from the community who experienced it, or even perpetrated it as students. A real example is the best way to show the children that one can overcome bullying and become a highly respected member of the community.
10. Preventing bullying outside school
Experience has shown that students often manifest bullying behavior outside school. Therefore, preventing violence in schools is not enough – the students need to prepare to behave adequately when they are not at school, too. This, too, can be achieved in different ways – through learning about the importance of respect, tolerance and appreciation. This aspect of prevention can also be tackled through guest lectures by local police officers on the harmfulness of violence, the types of legal punishment for it and examples from practice.
We all need to contribute towards bullying prevention
How to stop bullying in school is a question of everyone. The people most involved in providing answers to it are the ones involved in the educational process. Policy makers, teachers and school staff, parents and students – they all have a role in recognizing and preventing bullying.
Simply put, this is a problem of the entire society. Therefore, each of us needs to take care not to perpetrate any sort of violence towards others, and we all need to do everything within our power to prevent bullying.
Physical, psychological, and social safety and well-being of each individual are objectives that can provide a content, successful, and promising society. The exact kind of society we dream about for our children.