Have you ever been a victim of bullying? Were you ever a bully yourself? Bullying has been a major problem in the United States for many years and is still a major problem today. Also, with the recent advances in technology, there’s even more opportunity for someone to be a victim of bullying or to become a bully themselves. This can occur through texting, or on social media sites, such as Twitter or Instagram, and is called cyber bullying. Regardless of whether it’s happening at school or online, it needs to be stopped.
Bullying has been defined by a number of experts brought together by the CDC as, “…any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm.” (Gladden, Vivolo- Kantor, Hamburger, & Lumpkin, 2014, p. 7). “This imbalance of power, which can be based on physical, psychological, or social characteristics, makes it hard for the targeted individual to defend himself or herself against the aggressive acts.” (Saarento and Salmivalli, 2015) When the targeted individual has difficulty defending themselves against acts of bullying, it is likely to continue as the victim may feel powerless to stop it.
When discussing bullying, it’s important to note that bullying does not necessarily only include someone beating you up and stealing your lunch money, or calling you names. There are many forms of bullying “…such as physical, verbal, and relational or social. Physical bullying (e.g., hitting, pushing, and kicking) and verbal bullying (e.g., name-calling and teasing in a hurtful way) are usually considered to be a direct form, while relational bullying refers to an indirect form of bullying, such as social exclusion and spreading rumors. Studies on direct and indirect bullying have consistently shown that boys are more involved in direct bullying, whereas girls are more involved in indirect bullying.” (J. Wang et al. 2009) All of the aforementioned kinds of bullying are harmful to adolescents.
Bullying of any kind is a major problem not just because it occurs as often as it does, but because of what it can lead to. “Hinduja and Patchin (2010) surveyed approximately 2,000 middle-school youth and found that school bullying victims were 1.7 times more likely and offenders were 2.1 times more likely to have attempted suicide than those not involved in bullying. Similarly, cyberbullying victims were 1.9 times more likely and offenders were 1.5 times more likely to have attempted suicide than those not involved in cyberbullying.” (Hinduja & Patchin, 2018) Furthermore, “according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; 2015), suicide was the second leading cause of death in the United States among 10- to 17-year-olds in 2015.” (Hinduja & Patchin, 2018)
However, suicide isn’t the only kind of death that bullying is related to. The Columbine massacre and various other deaths have been related to someone being bullied.
“In North America, public concern about school bullying increased dramatically in the late 1990s, owing in large part to the tragic deaths of our youth by suicide (Marr & Fields, 2001) or murder, especially the 1997 murder of Rina Virk (Godfrey, 2005) and the Columbine massacre in 1998 (Cullen, 2009).” (Hymel, Shelley and Swearer, Susan M., 2015)
While these deaths have been tragic, they have also helped to shed some light on the issue of bullying, which is important in raising awareness to prevent it. Despite this, bullying is still happening on a daily basis at schools as well as on social media sites.
This can and needs to be stopped, through various ways such as training the staff that works at the schools to understand how to properly respond to and help stop bullying. It would be effective for students, as they can go to a staff member to get help for others who are involved in bullying, or for themselves. This training would help the staff member to more effectively help the students involved when someone comes to the staff for help, as well as help the staff members to more easily recognize when bullying is taking place. “Although the ultimate responsibility for ending bullying and helping victims should always rest with adults, theory and research suggest that it is key to empower children and adolescents by raising their awareness of the group dynamics of bullying and providing them with opportunities to practice strategies that withdraw social rewards from bullies and help victimized peers.” (Saarento and Salmivalli, 2015) Adults alone cannot stop bullying, therefore the children and adolescents must be aware of what bullying is and how to help stop it.
Teaching children how to stop bullying should include preventative measures such as anti-bullying programs. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, NASP, “Teaching social skills under the auspices of teaching respectful behavior might be a way of approaching social–emotional instruction.” They also state that “bullying programs appear to be most effective in the younger years.” (NASP, 2012) Starting anti-bullying programs early on in education can teach children emotional and social skills that they can use to prevent, or even appropriately handle bullying. When children have these emotional and social skills, rates of bullying may go down, because they’re able to effectively communicate and deal with issues, rather than bullying someone because of the issues.
Across the United States, bullying is a major problem that can be prevented. Through training staff members and teachers, as well as having the children participate in anti-bullying programs, bullying can be stopped. It’s very important that bullying does not continue, especially due to its relation to suicide and school shootings, like The Columbine massacre. Bullying is a problem in and of itself, but it’s a much larger problem when one takes into consideration the horrible things it’s related to. If bullying becomes less prevalent, hopefully those horrible things become less prevalent as well.
Gladden, R. Matthew, et al. “Bullying Surveillance Among Youths: Uniform Definitions for Public Health and Recommended Data Elements.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014, http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/Bullying-Definitions-FINAL-a.pdf. This article gives information from the CDC about bullying and data elements for bullying. It includes a uniform definition of bullying and also federal government resources related to bullying. I used this source to get the uniform definition of bullying. This is reliable as it is published by the CDC, some of the authors have PhD’s and it’s on a government website.
Hymel, Shelley, and Susan M. Swearer. “Four Decades of Research on School Bullying: An Introduction.” University of Nebraska – Lincoln, 2015, digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1173&context=edpsychpapers. This article explains a history of bullying and peer victimization. It also explains research on bullying over the course of forty years. I have used this source to show an example of what bullying is related to, such as the Columbine massacre. This is a peer reviewed source written by faculty and it is also published in American Psychologist.
National Association of School Psychologists. (2012). Bullying prevention and intervention in schools [Position statement]. Bethesda, MD: Author. This position statement includes information what bullying is, the different kinds of bullying, and current trends in bullying. It has some ideas for preventing bullying as well. I used this source for further understanding of what kinds of bullying exist and how to help stop bullying. This source was published by the National Association of School Psychologists and has many references.
Saarento-Zaprudin, Silja, and Christina Salmivalli. “The Role of Classroom Peer Ecology and Bystanders’ Responses in Bullying.” Research Gate, 2015, http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Christina_Salmivalli/publication/281237939_The_Role_of_Classroom_Peer_Ecology_and_Bystanders’_Responses_in_Bullying/links/56a21fe208ae2afab8861096.pdf. This article draws attention to bullying and the different effects of it based on the surrounding peer groups. It provides more information on suggestions for putting an end to bullying. I have used this source as a way to understand how to stop bullying as well as to further explain the definition of bullying. This article is a reliable, peer reviewed source.
Wang, Jing, et al. “School Bullying Among Adolescents in the United States: Physical, Verbal, Relational, and Cyber.” Journal of Adolescent Health, 2009, http://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(09)00138-4/pdf. This article explains the results of a study on bullying and discusses statistics. It includes the purpose, methods, results, and conclusions from the study. I have used this source as a way to gather information about the different kinds of bullying and how each kind has a different impact on victims. This article was written by three doctors of philosophy, and is published in the journal of adolescent health.