By Dr. Michelle Benson, Ed.D., FPA-BM Special Advisor
Incidentally, bullying can hinder a student’s ability to learn and enjoy the school experience. I am sure that all parents would agree that school should be a safe and trustworthy place for their kids to be away from home. Although kids can expect peer pressure once and a while, sometimes it can spiral out of control and turn into a form of bullying that will continue throughout the year and continue into the next. Unfortunately, most bullying goes undetected and the victims are too afraid to come forward due to risk of more bullying or bodily harm. Sadly, students are being bullied in public places such as bathrooms, hallways and school buses to name a few. More importantly, students need to find ways to motivate their self-confidence, overcome feelings of no self-worth and exit their cycles of being a victim of bullying for good.
Overall, physical bullying is the worst form of bullying. It includes tripping, hitting, and pushing and can cross the line very easily into sexual harassment. According to Beran (2008) physical bullying is more common in boys than in girls. Boys use it mostly to show male domination. In contrast, girls use indirect bullying by ways of gossiping, rumors and threats. On the other hand, Barbara Coloroso, famed author of the book: The Bully, The Bullied and the Bystander states that: bullying, whether it is a boy or girl, involves calling others names, making sexual remarks, aggressive emails and phone calls, racial comments, cruel jokes, spreading rumors, violent threats, and gossip. Granted, this does open up the realm of bullying to standard terms, however does not solve the issue of who’s to blame.
Verbal bullying can really take a toll on the emotions of its victim. Overtime, verbal bullying can lead to anxiety, depression and lastly; suicide. Granted there are many types of bullying, verbal bullying seems to cause the most pain over a long period of time. Thanks to the research of Kasetchi Laeheem (2013) writer for the Asian Social Science Journal, association of bullying behaviors came from classroom management factor such as: democratic, authoritarian and permissive styles of teaching and from family upbringing factors such as: strict, permissive and democratic parenting methods. Further, influence of parental violence in the household was a strong predictor of students bullying behavior. In contrast, “bullying is a product of his or her problematic background, such as poor parenting, lots of quarrels and conflicts at home, divorce, abuse, or harsh non-loving parents.” (Thornberg,R. & Knutsen, S. (2011). Furthermore, bullying points to a cause of psychological distress in reference to dealing with individualized living situations.
Cyberbullying, or otherwise known as cyber stalking is when a perpetrator uses social media induced information technology. On their cell phones, iPads, tablets and computers, bullies deliver mean spirited hostile behavior to a victim. From research, I discovered that the bullies who use this form of torcher are or were bullied in person and this is their payback. Granted, parental involvement is key…some cases are never caught until it is too late and serious damage or death has occurred.
One of the saddest things to hear on the news is how the popular social media tool, Facebook is knowingly harboring teenage bullying in private messages, which in turn is leading to suicide. As the internet offers instantaneous satisfaction of entertainment needs, mainly in social media, the risk for your child’s private bullying by a stranger is just as high. V.B. Draa from the Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences stated that most networking sites are required by law to provide a list of rules and terms of service that apply to users that forbid cyberbullying actions. Nevertheless, some people cannot see the “small print” and realistically never know it is there. I firmly believe that rules, regulations and terms of usage should be in large print and pop up before a consumer logs on to a suspected social media site.
Given these important points concerning life and death, lawmakers are continuously working on further legislation against cyberbullying. Upon research, I located a website (www.bullypolice.org) that gives the current laws from each state for educators, or concerned advocates to refer to about protecting victims of bullying. For instance, California passed a law called the SB719-Bully Prevention for School Safety and Crime Reduction Act of 2003. California’s interest in making their concerns about bullying a law speculates that this state has had many cases of bullying that have led to death. By ways of contrast, Colorado has no official anti bullying law, but a legislative declaration and policy to refer to. Colorado’s interest in a bullying law is not as severe as California’s stand which underscores that in this state, bullying is not on the rise. In any case, each state seems to have laws and legislations regarding bullying, but truly needs to enforce their policies more to avoid further psychological harm of the victims of bullying.
Social bullying, or otherwise known as relational aggression is a form of bullying that I have experienced. It led me to quit school in the tenth grade and run away from Connecticut to California. People who I thought were friends gained my trust, broke it intentionally and belittled me as much as they could. These bullies would wait for me to walk by after school, under the stairs and hold me there until they broke my self-esteem with constant negative comments about me and my family. They threatened me that if I ever told anyone, I would get my ass kicked.
I held this social bullying in for so long that it broke me and I quit school just to get away from it. I remember the look on my mother’s face when I signed the paperwork to quit school at a meeting with the principal and counselors. It was too late now. I really should have said something earlier. The anxiety, depression and trust issues from this experience were very hard to overcome. In San Diego, California, I went back to school and earned my high school diploma in 1988. In the year 2000, I became a teacher with a full bag of diamonds to share about self-esteem and character building.
Furthermore, I was pleased to find an article written by Smith, P and Birney, L. (2005) that spoke about a plan that would include the principal’s support of teachers to protect students with watchful eyes from the predators of bullying in schools across the country. I truly believe that with this kind of support from the principal that all public school organizations could be well-functioning ones with trust across the board.
According to a case study about emotional bullying causing long-term emotional problems, Bond, L; Carlin, J.B.; Thomas, L.; Rubin, K.; & Patton, G. (2001) discovered in a meta-analysis that the relation between victimization and psychosocial maladjustment found a stronger association with measures of depression than with anxiety, loneliness, or general self-esteem. By way of contrast, Carbo, J. & Hughes, A. (2010) believe that emotional bullying causes later issues in the workplace of anxiety, frustration and burnout.
However, one thing is certain. If you are a victim of bullying, there is always trustworthy help out there. Never should a victim of bullying hold anything in due to anxiety or depression, but find a professional to help them overcome their fears and save themselves from potential post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
Alternately, gay bullying is on the rise in America. Back in September of the year 2000, I began to step up and support bullying by speaking publically about my experiences in high school. In the same month, a story surfaced out of Tehachapi, California whereabouts a young 13 year old boy committed suicide due to being chronically bullied for his sexual orientation. Seth Walsh was a lover of cheese burgers, Pokémon cards, disco music and an “A” student, but what Seth was coming to terms with was he was gay and the bullies targeted him immediately.
Seth Walsh became depressed and withdrawn. People he thought were friends were calling him names and socially profiling him everywhere he went. He was a victim of social and emotional bulling. At one point, Seth was afraid to use the restroom in fear that he would get beat up by his peers. Seth’s mother tried countless times to get the school district to do something, but nothing was done. The worse happened. Seth hung himself in the back yard of his house. He was on life support for nine days, and pronounced dead on the tenth. There are far too many stories out there recently about stereotypical profiling and something must be done about this. On Facebook, I created a page called: “NO MORE BULLYING”. This is a place where people can go to and get help, tell their stories and feel safe. I plan to continue to grow this page in the future to really make a difference in the lives of the victims of bullying.
What can be done about Bullying?
While parental awareness is key to a child’s well-being, there are signs to look for if you suspect that your child is a victim of bullying. Is your child socially isolated? Would he/she rather play in their room alone than with friends outside? Do their school books seem like they are damaged or ripped? Are there unexplainable cuts, bruises or scratches on your child? Is your child experiencing bad dreams at night, or are they crying in their sleep? Lastly, does your child seem to be sad, anxious or depressed when getting ready for school? If so, then I would suggest to make an appointment with the school counselor, principal and teacher right away.
Thankfully, teachers and parents are integrating the importance of building character in their students’ elementary school years. In the event that a student may encounter a bullying situation, their strong character would lead the student on the right track so they can continue to learn in a safe and nurturing environment.
Bond, L., Carlin, J. B., Thomas, L., Rubin, K., & Patton, G. (2001). Does bullying cause emotional problems? A prospective study of young teenagers. British Medical Journal, 323(7311), 480-4. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/docview/204024596?accountid=28180
Beran, T., & Stewart, S. (2008). Teachers’ and students’ reports of physical and indirect bullying. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 54(2), 242-244. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/docview/228625819?accountid=28180
Carbo, J., & Hughes, A. (2010). WORKPLACE BULLYING: DEVELOPING A HUMAN RIGHTS DEFINITION FROM THE PERSPECTIVE AND EXPERIENCES OF TARGETS. Working USA, 13(3), 387-403. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/docview/856599033?accountid=28180
Colorosa, B. (2008). The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers
Draa, V. B., & Sydney, T. D. (2009). Cyberbullying: Challenges and actions. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 101(4), 40-46. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/docview/218176097?accountid=28180
Gourneau, B. (2012). Students’ perspectives of bullying in schools. Contemporary Issues in Education Research (Online), 5(2), 117. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/docview/1418450265?accountid=28180
Hallford, A., Borntrager, C., & Davis, J. L. (2006). Evaluation of a bullying prevention program. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 21(1), 91-101. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/docview/203891234?accountid=28180
Laeheem, K. (2013). Factors associated with bullying behavior in islamic private schools, pattani province, southern thailand. Asian Social Science, 9(3), 55-60. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/docview/1346871747?accountid=28180
Olweus, D. (1997). Bully/victim problems in school: Facts and intervention. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 12, 495-510.
Shore, K. (2005). The ABC’s of bullying prevention: A comprehensive school wide approach. Port Chester, NY: Dude Publishing
Smith, P. A., & Birney, L. L. (2005). The organizational trust of elementary schools and dimensions of student bullying. The International Journal of Educational Management, 19(6),469-485.Retrievedfrom http://search.proquest.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/docview/229108733?accountid=28180
Thornberg, R., & Knutsen, S. (2011). Teenagers’ explanations of bullying. Child & Youth Care Forum, 40(3), 177-192. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10566-010-9129-z
The FPA-BM has as Special Advisor Dr. Michelle C. Benson, Ed.D. Dr. Michelle is a consultant, university professor and advisor to many. Dr. Michelle graduated from Northcentral University with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. She holds a Master in Organizational Leadership/Management from Ashford University. Dr. Michelle has taught for the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Community Health for Bachelor and Master level learners. Dr. Michelle also can motivate and lead her students to career and life changing opportunities. She is a student-centered education professional and is passionate to see success in people she encounters. Dr. Michelle has authored five journal publications and is always seeking ways to add more research to existing topics in leadership, learning and management.