Bullying in schools is a phenomenon that has received increased attention in the media. Bullying often manifests in verbal taunting and in physical threats and violence, creating problems of low self-esteem, decreased focus on school work, and emotional trauma in young victims. Concerned parents, educators and students can communicate about ways to prevent and stop bullying from occurring in their schools.
Types of Bullying
Many people think of bullying as the traditional act of one child or group of children physically assaulting or teasing another child. Perhaps the most common type of bullying is verbal; bullies often name call and make disparaging remarks about another child's physical or socioeconomic attributes. Other types of bullying include spreading rumors, intimidation, and social alienation. However, there are many types of bullying -- some that have risen out of societal changes and the use of modern technology. Stop Bulling Now! is a U.S. government website that defines cyberbullying as the act of verbal bullying or intimidation through text messages, social networking sites, or blogs.
Solutions Through Assessment and Cooperation
School administrators, teachers, parents, counselors and other staff can reduce bullying by forming a group whose focus is assessing the social environment of the school and the amount of bullying going on. A good way to assess this information is to give out an anonymous survey to students. Surveys give students a chance to express their feelings and contextualize their experiences while also reinforcing the sense of self-responsibility that comes with preventing further incidents, whether in the role of bully, victim or bystander.
Solutions Through Policy
School districts that clearly define what bullying is, outline the consequences of violating anti-bullying policy, and highlight specific types of bullying set the standard for how students will view and act upon bullying situations. It's important that students know that consequences and follow-through are school administrators' top priorities so that bullies will be less likely to act out against the rules, and victims will be more likely to come forward in the case of an incident.
Solutions Through Education
In many cases, bullies come from families where these types of behavior models are the standard. In these cases, punishment may not be the most appropriate consequence; counseling for students acting out the bullying they have experienced at home can often be the best option for them. Organizations like Youth Frontiers host specialized retreats in the areas of kindness, courage and respect to teach children more positive ways to treat each other at school and in other life situations.