Bullying is defined as repeated aggressive, negative, unwanted behaviors which involve a disparity in strength or power. It can take the form of verbal or physical aggression, humiliation and embarrassment, destroying a person’s property or social relationships, graffiti and now for the technically savvy generation, cyber bullying through e-mail, text messages, voice mail and social networking. Perpetrators choose their victims according to perceived a weakness or difference in areas such as size, weight, skin color, sexual preference, or physical/learning ability.
Most students state that they do not report school bullying due to fears of retaliation and observations that rarely is anything done to alleviate the situation. School bullying statistics show that much of the bullying takes place when students travel to and from school and in the halls ways, bathrooms and playgrounds where often it is difficult to provide adequate adult supervision. The only witnesses to the incidents are fellow students. These fellow students may: join in the bullying; receive vicarious pleasure through observation; or are fearful of becoming victims themselves and therefore do nothing to stop the abuse.
Bullying statistics show that boys bully more often in a physical way while girls use their strength in language by belittling their victims with words. The mass use of social media networks and cell phones has made cyber bullying a particularly easy way to intimidate, alienate and humiliate victims. One click of a button and a whole group of individuals can be party to the school bully’s actions.
Though bullying often decreases in high school age students, there is a high correlation between a history of school bullying and later criminal actions. School bullying while at one time thought to be an outcome of the bully having low self esteem, is actually quite the opposite, with most bullies actually having an overly grand image of themselves. It is the victims of the school bullying whose self esteem often plummets and bullying statistics show that many bullying victims become depressed and sometimes suicidal.
We, as educators, have a responsibility to our students to do whatever we can to provide a safe environment for learning. Both the bullied and the bullies need our help. Bullying statistics show that bullying is on the rise. Some simple steps we can take to assist our students are: making our students aware of the problem and teaching them assertiveness techniques to deal with bullies; provide students with a message box to the teacher to report concerns and other observations; develop projects to promote class/school unity; and, most importantly, make it clear to our students that we have a no tolerance policy for school bullying.