Is bullying dangerous? Can harm result from students bullying other students? Can it lead to someone feeling hopeless, helpless and start thinking of suicide? Can bullying make someone act differently than usual? Acting differently like always seeming sad or chronically anxious, struggling to complete tasks, or not taking care of themselves. Can bullying be based on protected rights such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion? In summary, “Can bullying be stopped in schools?”
The simple answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” Screaming rhetorically loud on all vocal cylinders. For the complex explanation? Follow along. — Ogbonnaya Agom-Eze.
A bully seeks to cause harm to others. A bully is a tyrant, an ignorant ruffian who intimidates others, coercing others (some or others perceived as vulnerable). The Merriam Webster Dictionary establishes that the bully is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable tormented by the neighborhood. A bully is an ignorant nincompoop in need of transformation from their impish expressions.
Bullying can affect the individual who is the victim of the bully. It can damage the victim’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being during their early school years and go into adulthood. Its effect can be adverse and must be treated with the utmost severity to crush it whenever it rears its ugly head up. Bullying can cause physical harm, social or emotional breakdowns, and is the severest case—even death. Hence, the need for us to address bullying immediately we notice it.
The first step to solving any problem is understanding the problem. Parents who pay attention to their children understand the issue of bullying in school. Your child probably has approached you more than once with complaints of a bigger pupil in their school who bullies them. If your child has never complained about bullying in school, he/she probably may be a bully in school. Parents need to pay attention to this too.
Bullying among school children is usually for fun. However, these bullies fail to realize that their actions are seeds that they plant in their victims’ psyche that grow up to become rhetorical weeds that could choke the life out of their sanity. Sometimes, bullying is often a means of having revenge on a pupil for being a lot more intelligent in schoolwork or other perceived advantages. Some children are bullied into doing assignments and classwork by pupils who cannot do it themselves.
Others are intimidated because they appear different from the majority; differences such as being physically weaker, being from a diverse ethnic or racial group, speaking differently, or just generally standing out regarding their approach to things. This arouses curiosity among other kids, causing them to question their understanding of how things should be. Bullying becomes the next logical thing for those who cannot tolerate these differences because of their self-esteem issues.
Many students who bully other students are primarily from homes where they experience emotional upheaval. This may be in the form of bullying from older siblings or relatives, physical abuse from parents, or even domestic violence. These children internalize these experiences and then re-enact this learned behavior on those they consider weaker than themselves. Bullies can also pick up this habit due to exposure to music, television shows, and inappropriate movies for children. The children feel the need to prove themselves by supposedly exacting strength. They then find weaker or more timid students to exact that force on them.
Addressing the Bullying Issue
Bullying is prevalent in schools because it’s the one place where people from different backgrounds and personalities and vulnerabilities gather to learn. Bullying can occur in various ways. There is cyber-bullying, physical, social, and verbal bullying. Whatever the method, it can affect the student’s mental health, and we must do everything to stop it. Taking this into account will help to understand most of the proffered solution to this problem. Now that we have identified the problem, the next step is to look at some practical solutions to bullying in schools.
#1. Indulge the Bully
More than just reprimanding the bully—which will make them angrier and want to bully the victim more—try to indulge them and get to know their motivation. Punitive measures from a school system should aim to go to the root causation of the bullying. Getting a bully to talk about why they like to bully or what happens in their homes may prove difficult at times. However, it is the right thing to do in helping to solve the bully problem.
Getting to the root causation of this behavior shows equal concern for the victim and the bully too. Many bullies repeat their actions because they feel they are less loved or cared for by their teachers or even by their parents. Stringently disciplining the bully as the only repercussion for his/her actions goes only to prove this point to the bully. Getting to the root cause of their actions and finding a means to solve their troubled state will help them become better.
#2. Instill Positive Behavior
One of the best ways to curb negative behavior is to instill positive behavior. It is like having a void inside and seeking a way to fill it. The negative behavior is bullying. There is a genesis to every bully’s behavior. The positive action is the substance that fills the gap that the bully is experiencing that plunges them in the dark paths of going down the deep end. Negative parenting can turn your kids into bullies. Positive behaviors come to kids through the kind of parental upbringing that they have. (NB. Check out our article titled “Let’s Raise Our Children Right” ).
As we have established in the previous paragraph, the best place to encourage positive behavior growth is home. So, get the parents of the bully involved. If possible, help them attend parenting classes and learn about things they should and shouldn’t do in front of their kids to avoid allowing their kids to pick up wrong values. Also, please encourage them to be a lot more endearing to their children and show moral and emotional support. If parents are fully incorporated in reorienting their children, the process becomes a lot easier.
#3. Encourage Co-operation Amongst Students
Another way to curtail bullying amongst students is to ensure that they work together. Co-operation among students is an essential factor that gets them working together. Students should be taught the benefits of teamwork and the need to relate in the spirit of tolerance. They must be taught to accept their fellow kids irrespective of their color, weaknesses, creed, etc. There should be a no-tolerance policy in the school.
In school, pick children who are bullies and put them in the same group as their victims and encourage responsibility, teamwork, and productiveness. This way, they would see themselves as companions instead of enemies. Working together to achieve tasks helps children understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and builds empathy. The more these kids understand each other, the less the likelihood of them turning against each other. They could even develop meaningful friendships.
#4. Guidance and Counseling
There is a need for more Guidance Counselors in the United States school system. According to Bradley University, the smaller student-to-counselor ratio was associated with higher college enrollment rates and more knowledge of postsecondary education. The need for guidance counseling goes beyond trying to get kids into college. In an America where there are so many uncertainties in schools, students need more guidance. We cannot relinquish this duty to teachers alone. More Guidance Counsellors will help reduce variations such as bullying, violence, and maybe mass shootings, etc. It will make for a calmer and more collected generation that will grow up with more empathy.
According to Bradley University, Grades K to 8 and 9 to 12 require an excellent Guidance Counselors ratio to Students. The American School Counselor Association recommends a school counselor-to-student ratio of 1:250. In the 2013-14 year, Arizona had the worst ratio of 1:941, followed by California at 1:822. Wyoming has the best at 1:211. States that recognize the positive effects of Guidance Counseling in the student population are Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maine. Among these five States, Tennessee comes out tops—1:500 for K to 6, 1:350 for 7 to 12. (NB. See the The Bradley University Infographic for more details. Click here). In my opinion, I believe that having more Guidance Counselors in schools can help mitigate the vice of bullying. The ratio is high at 1:250, although only one state-Wyoming exceeds this standard. Let us aim for a 1:100 guidance counselor to student ratio in American schools.
#5. Get Help Now and Educate Yourself
Do not keep quiet when all else fails—Get Help Now. The United States Government has set up a website that is totally dedicated to stopping bullying at www.stopbullying.gov. Get help immediately. If you have expended your efforts—if you are at a dead-end in offering help to curb a bullying situation and you perceive that someone is in immediate danger, Get Help Now! Assess the case based on “The Problem.” When you determine what it is, get help now by doing what stopbullying.gov has recommended.
“Compassion is the greatest form of love humans have to offer.” — Rachel Joy Scott.
Finally, you must continue to educate yourself on the problem of bullying. An excellent place to start is what you have done already, which is reading this article. Share this article via your social media platforms to continue to expand awareness of bullying. Also, you can gain more knowledge via the resources that the government provides, such as www.stopbullying.gov, via their “Facts About Bullying” section of their website. Do the due diligence of educating your wards on the dangers of bullying. Together, we can join hands in extinguishing the raging fires of bullying in our schools.