Bullying- An Issue Affecting Children, Teens, Parents, and Schools
January 6, 2021
Bullying, as the current statistics show, is a problem that just doesn’t seem to be going away. Bullies can be at school, in after school programs, sports activities, or in the neighborhood where children and their parents live. It is estimated that from various statistical reports there may be at least 30 percent of teens in the United States (or over 5.7 million) are estimated to be involved in school bullying as either a bully, a target of teen bullying or both. In a recent national survey of students in grades 6 to 10, 13 percent reported bullying others, 11 percent reported being the target of school bullies, and another 6 percent said they bullied others and were bullied themselves (from Family First Aid-Help for Troubled Teens). Some statistics are alarming:
How Common is Bullying?
- About 20% of students aged 12-18 experienced bullying nationwide
- Students ages 12-18 who reported being bullied said they thought those who bullied them:
- Had the ability to influence other students’ perception of them (56%)
- Had more social influence (50%)
- Were physically stronger or larger (40%)
- Had more money (31%)
Data from StopBullying.gov
Bullying in Schools
Further national data as of 2019 shows of school bullying as:
- Nationwide, 19% of students in grades 9-12 report being bullied on school property in the 12 months prior to the survey
- The following percentages of students ages 12-18 had experienced bullying in various places at school:
- Hallway or stairwell (43.4%)
- Classroom (42.1%)
- Cafeteria (26.8%)
- Outside on school grounds (21.9%)
- Online or text (15.3 %)
- Bathroom or locker room (12.1%)
- Somewhere else in the school building (2.1 %)
- Approximately 46% of students ages 12-18 who were bullied during the school year notified an adult at the school about the bullying.
From this research, it was reported that “bullying at school is a pervasive problem that affects millions of students every year. Of those who were bullied, a subgroup also reported being physically injured (bruises, cut, bloody nose, etc) by the bullying. Because bullying is so commonplace and ranges so widely in severity, its importance if often overlooked”.
Exactly what is bullying? According to Center of Disease Control, National Institute of Health, and the Nemours Foundation, bullying can be defined “when a person or group repeatedly tried to harm someone who is weaker or who they think is weaker. Sometimes it involves direct attacks such as hitting, name calling, teasing, or taunting. Sometimes it is indirect, such as spreading rumors or trying to make other reject someone.” Often it is thought as a part of going through childhood and isn’t harmful. Yet “it may lead them to avoid school. In severe cases, teens who are bullied may feel they need to take drastic measures or react violently. Others even consider suicide. For some, the effects of bullying last a lifetime.” Violence, from the Bullying Statistics.org, states this is name calling, teasing, pushing, hitting, threatening, spreading rumors, playing mean practical jokes, and social exclusion. This may happen through phone texting, Facebook, phone calls, e-mails, or other types of electronic media. With teens, most often alcohol and substance abuse is included from the web article of Bullying Statistics.org as a linkage along with impoverished neighborhoods, poor achievement in school, and poor academic achievement. Boys are more likely to be involved than girls with regard to violence. Some commonalities found between violent teens and those who bully are severe physical punishment at home, lack of parental involvement, and not taught positive ways to deal with problems, in other words good conflict resolution skills.
The US Department of Health and Human Resources article states that children need to be comfortable telling their parents or caregiver about being bullied. Often the children are embarrassed, ashamed, frightened of the children who are bullying them, or afraid to being seen as a “tattle tale”. If your child is being bullied do the following:
1. First, focus on your child. Be supportive and gather information about the bullying. Never tell you child to ignore bullying. Don’t blame the child who is being bullied. Listen carefully to what your child tells you about the bullying. Learn as much as you can about the bullying tactics used, when and where the bullying happened. If you disagree with how your child handled the bullying situation, don’t criticize him or her. Do not encourage physical retaliation (“Just hit them back”) as a solution. Check your emotions.
2. Contact your child’s teacher or principal. Parents are often reluctant to report bullying to school officials. Keep your emotions in check. Emphasize that you want to work with the staff at the school to find a solution. Do not contact the parent(s) of the student(s) who bullied your child. Expect the bullying to stop.
3. Help your child become more resilient to bullying. Help to develop talents or positive attributes of your child. Encourage your child to make contact with friendly students in his or her class. Help your child meet new friends outside of the school environment. Teach your child safety strategies. Ask yourself if your child is being bullied because of a learning difficulty or lack of social skills. Home is where the heart is. Keep open communication lines open with your child.
An interesting article about Bullying: Depression High Among Youth Victims of School Cyber Bullying (NIH) 9/21/2010
Children and teens need to learn conflict resolution skills to express their thoughts and feelings in a more positive way. Small children can be taught to use “I feel” statements to express their feelings whether they are happy, sad, mad, glad, angry, excited, or worried, the list goes forward. Teens can learn to agree to disagree, express their thoughts and feelings, and then if they learn they are getting angry and need to cool down, to walk away. An “I feel” statement basically is one where someone says, “I feel angry when those things are said to me. I want you to stop and if you don’t stop, then I am going to tell my teacher or parent.” Parents and teachers need to be aware that when a child comes to them after being taught to state what they think and feel, to take care of the situation. Feelings are words, an expression of an emotion, it is what we do with feelings that is important, for example anger is neither good or bad, neither positive or negative, but what one chooses to do when they are feeling angry is the challenge. When one hasn’t learned to handle anger or frustration constructively, then the end result can be bullying, fighting, being mean to someone else, etc. Parents need to be educated about conflict resolution skills to teach children. In counseling and family counseling this can be very beneficial to help prevent tragedies, life long effects of bullying and violence, and to establish good social skills that are going to be used for life.
WARNING SIGNS OF BULLYING:
• Comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings;
• Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches;
• Has few, if any friends, with whom he or she spends time;
• Seems afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities with peers (such as clubs);
• Takes a long, “illogical” route when walking to or from school;
• Has lost interest in school work or suddenly begins to do poorly in school;
• Appears sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home;
• Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments;
• Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams;
• Experiences a loss of appetite; or
• Appears anxious and suffers from low self-esteem.
If you or your child have been involved in bullying, or there is need for parent education or development of skills for anger or conflict resolution, this practice can provide those services. Call Kathy L. Fortner, EdS LPC CCMHC, KLF Counseling and Consulting, PA for further information. The office number is (843) 240-9446.