Bullying in schools has become a complicated international phenomenon. Whether schools are elementary or secondary, small or large, same-sex or mixed-sex, bullying behavior has spread and presents a threat to the well-being of students and the health of schools in countries around the world (Kennedy et al., 2012).
What is bullying?
Researchers of student bullying have recognized this behavior as a violation of other students’ rights (Olweus, 2011). Bullying is defined as the “tendency for some children to frequently oppress, harass or intimidate other children, verbally, physically or both in and out of school” (Alika, 2012, p. 523). Bullying is also described as the repeated exposure of one student to negative actions on the part of one or more other students (Olweus, 2003). These negative actions are intentionally inflicted and can consist of physical abuse that causes physical discomfort or injury and/or verbal abuse that causes feelings of inferiority or mental anguish. One student or group of students can initiate the bullying of another student or group of students, either physically or verbally or both, in order to cause unwarranted distress (Olweus, 2003). According to Olweus (2003), boys tend to use direct bullying more than girls while girls tend to practice indirect bullying more than boys. In general, bullying has been increasingly considered to be a subset of direct or indirect violence (Strohmeier & Noam, 2012).
Consequence of bullying:
Bullying has negative impact on the bullied or victimized. Studies show that bullied students have low academic achievement, self-esteem, self-confidence, numerous health problems, and high anxiety. Unfortunately, bullying also has led to a rise in suicides among elementary and secondary school students and some students more likely to drop out of school than their peers who are not subjected to any form of bullying (Alika, 2012). When a student is persistently exposed to bullying, he or she was more likely to suffer from a severe and long-term impact that sometimes lasted for years after school (Olweus, 2003). In fact, bullying has been used as predictor of later criminality (Olweus, 2011).
Reasons behind bullying:
To understand the bullying behavior, we have to understand why the students do bully others? Prejudice is one of the top reasons behind the bullying. Students bully other students for being different in some way for their color, race, religion, culture, abilities and disabilities, height, weight, or sexual orientation. This type of bullying is reflected to prejudices that students learn from their family and social community about the value of diversity in the community especially because these students (kids or young people) find it hard to understand the diversity of others and can only see it as a difference which can lead to prejudice bullying.
According to National Center for Educational Statistics (2016), more than one out of every five (20.8%) students report being bullied. The following table shows the number and percentage distribution of students ages 12 through 18 who reported being bullied at school: school year 2024-2015.
33% of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that they were bullied at least once or twice a month during the school year (NCES, 2016). The following figure shows the percentage reporting various frequency of bullying among students ages 12-18 during the school year 2015.
The role of educators for preventing bullying:
So, how educators interact with this major concern and what their roles in protecting students from bullying in schools!! There are lots of people can help stop bullying such as teachers, school counselor, school principal, school superintendent and state department of education. https://www.stopbullying.gov/resources/get-help-now. I agree all these people can make efforts to combat and prevent bullying in schools I think more emphasis should be put on the role of teachers because they are in the frontline of observing student behavior. It seems reasonable to assume that when teachers notice bullying, they are more likely to intervene and stop this behavior. Teachers daily contact with students and are at the forefront of ensuring a safe learning environment, including protecting students from bullying and reporting bullying problems to administrators. Thus, teachers should to be trained about what bullying is, what the school’s rules are, and how to deal with bullying. For example, teachers can support a victim and a bully. For the victim, show her or him that the care and they have a friend. In the same time teachers can advise the bully that he or she is wrong without getting involved in an argument. Actually, the interaction will be based on the bullying situation.
Whitted and Dupper (2005) provided a guideline for teachers to prevent bullying:
- Regular classroom meetings are held to discuss bullying.
- Students are involved in developing rules against bullying.
- The concept of bullying is integrated into curriculum.
- All school personnel model positive interpersonal skills and cooperative learning and do not set a bad example by exhibiting dominating or authoritarian behavior with students.
- Teachers encourage the reporting of bullying incidents and consistently follow school bullying policies.
- Teachers respond swiftly and consistently and are sympathetic to students who need support.
- Teachers encourage students to include all students in play and activities.
- Teachers send clear messages that bullying is not tolerated.
- Consistent enforcement of nonpunitive, graduated consequences for bullying behaviors are used.
- Corporal punishment is avoided.
- Parents are encouraged to contact the school if they suspect their child is involved in bullying.
Alika, H. I. (2012). Bullying as a correlate of dropout from school among adolescents in Delta State: Implication for counselling. Education, 132(3), 523– 532.
Kennedy, T. D., Russom, A. G., Kevorkian, M. M. (2012). Teacher and administrator perceptions of bullying in schools. International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership, 7(5), 1–12.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2016). Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2016.U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2017/2017064.pdf
Olweus, D. (2003). A profile of bullying at school. Educational Leadership, 60(6), 12–17.
Olweus, D. (2011). Bullying at school and later criminality: Findings from three Swedish
community samples of males. Criminal Behaviour & Mental Health, 21(2), 151–156.
Strohmeier, D. & Noam, G. G. (2012). Bullying in schools: What is the problem, and how can educators solve it? New Directions for Youth Development, 2012 (133), 7–13.
Whitted, K. S., & Dupper, D. R. (2005). Best practices for preventing or reducing bullying in schools. Children & Schools, 27(3), 167–175.