Bullying

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            Bullying is a form of violence that can be experienced by children in school.  Statistics for the prevalence of bullying are varied because the behavior is not always delineated as a crime, so statistics are not readily available from uniform crime statistics.  When law enforcement is involved, bullying behaviors are often identified as harassment, stalking, and assault through the legal system.  Adding to the scattered data is the reality that bullying is often 'handled' within the level of the social-ecological system that it occurs.  Bullying however does not occur in isolation; it results as a complex interaction between the individual and all levels of the social-ecological system (Swearer, Espelage, and Napolitano, 2009) and therefore is a societal issue of concern for everyone. 

            The statistics for childhood bullying vary a great deal.  According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, one in five children have experienced some degree of bullying in their lifetime (http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/bullying 2011).  The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2007, 32% of students aged 12-18 reported having been bullied at school (http://nces.ed.gov/programs/crimeindicators/crimeindicators2010//ind_11.asp 2011).  Seventy seven percent of junior and senior high school students from small Midwestern towns have indicated that they were victims of bullying during their school years (http://www.ojjdp.gov/jjbulletin/9804/bullying2.html Hoover, 1992).  The FBI reports that "bullying remains one of the largest problems in schools, with the percentage of students reportedly bullied at least once a week steadily increasing since 1999" http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/2011pdfs/may-2011-leb (2011).    

            Most bullying definitions contain the same three major components; aggressive behavior, imbalance of power, and repetitive actions.  Sutton, Smith, and Swettenham (1999) stated it well; "bullying involves an intentional, usually recurrent, action designed to inflict physical and psychological harm on another person or persons by one or more persons and is a part of a complex interplay of dominance and social status."   Bullying behaviors may be physical, verbal, emotional, written, or electronic in nature.  The actions may include behaviors such as unsolicited physical (hitting, kicking, etc.) and verbal (teasing, taunting) contact, social manipulations (spreading rumors, exclusion), negative/aggressive written and/or electronic contact, stealing or damaging another's property.  Bullying can take many forms, but always has the intent of causing physical or psychological harm to another. 

            Aside from obvious physical injuries that can be a result of being bullied, there are other ways the victim is harmed.  Bullied youth experience increased physiological symptoms such as headaches and stomachaches and they experience increased psychosocial problems.  Bullied youth report more loneliness, increased school avoidance, less self-esteem and increased suicide ideation than nonbullied youth (Swearer, Espelage, and Napolitano, 2009).  Victimization can also result in lower academic competence, performance and engagement.  Consequently, the negative effect on a student's education can result in lowered earnings in adulthood. 

            There are factors at every level of the social-ecological system that are associated with bullying.  Children with internalizing problems are at higher risk for becoming a victim of bullying.  A person from a home that is unstable or where children are maltreated is more likely to be a bully or be bullied.  School environments that have a climate of conflict and low levels of supervision are associated with bullying.  Lastly, at the macro level, governmental policies that are less than inclusive perpetuate the message that some are better than others and not deserving of respect and equal treatment.  It is time we recognize that bullying is not "just kids being kids", it is a serious phenomenon that harms the individuals involved (including the perpetrator), our schools, institutions, and society at large.  This ever increasing form of violence requires attention at all social-ecological levels to make it unacceptable. 

 

References

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. (2011). Facts for families: Bullying. Retrieved on October 28, 2011 from http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/bullying

 

Hoover, J. H., Oliver, R., and Hazler, R. J. (1992). "Bullying: Perceptions of adolescent victims in Midwestern USA," School Psychology International 13:5-16,1992.  Retrieved October 29, 2011 from http://www.ojjdp.gov/jjbulletin/9804/bullying2.html

 

National Center for Education Statistics (2011).  Retrieved October 29, 2011 from

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/crimeindicators/crimeindicators2010//ind_11.asp

 

Sutton, J., Smith, P. K., & Swettenham, J. (1999). Bullying and "theory of mind": A critique of the "social skills deficit" view of anti-social behavior.  Social Development, 8, 117-127. doi:10.1111/1467-9507.00083

 

Swearer, S. M., Espelage, D.L., and Napolitano, S. A. ( 2009).  Bullying prevention and intervention.  New York, NY: Guilford Press.

 

United States Department of Justice, FBI, (2011).  Retrieved October 30, 2011 from

http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/2011pdfs/may-2011-leb

 

 

 

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http://youtu.be/8I_i_o7A97w

This is a link to YouTube for a documentary I stumbled upon yesterday. Unfortunately I was unable to view the entire show due to my toddler waking up, but while reading this, I couldn't help but think of the part of the program that I did get to see. I think it was on E!. It was a documentary about teens who had committed murder. I do remember the title: Too Young To Kill: 15 Shocking Crimes. The link I have provided is just one story, but there are several different parts, so in essence the entire documentary is viewable. Unfortunately it is easy to find full episodes of "Keeping up with the Kardashians" on the E! website, but when they air something of importance, such as this, it is unavailable until it repeats on the TV. Anyway, the main point I want to make in reference to bullying, is the aggressive behaviors all of these teens possess. The teens I was able to view were all isolated in some way and it was so painful for them that they felt they needed to resort to harming others. In fact, peculiar, but yet not so peculiar to me is that a lot of them reported poor relationships with their parents.

I have a little piece of history to share about my own life as well. When I was in my junior year in high school I had a school shooting at my school. We made headlines as we were the only Catholic school to ever have a school shooting and we were also the first school with a female shooter. It is crazy when I think about how crazy all these school shootings are and I virtually forgot about what had happened in my own school in March of 2001. A 14 year old girl brought a gun to my school. She actually shot a 13 year old girl. The victim was on the cheerleading squad, she played soccer, basketball and she was "popular". The shooter had recently transferred from another school about 15 miles away because she was often teased and had hopes of "starting new" at my school. It is horrible some of the things I have heard that other children did to her..the worst thing that I heard was that kids threw rocks at her on the way home from school. You would think that I would feel some sort of anger towards her, even though she did not hurt me, personally, she brought a gun to my school and we are so lucky that no one died. The fact of the matter is, though, that I feel truly sorry for her that these kids were so mean to her that she felt she had to resort to bringing a gun to school. She was suicidal at the time as well. I was more mad at the victim for teasing her and making her feel that low. You can read about it if you like. All you have to do is look it up on google. The school is Bishop Neumann High School in Williamsport, PA.

The point I'm trying to make is that kids are so delicate. Kids are also very cruel. Even parents can drive their kids to feeling like they are worthless to the point where they feel like there is no other way out than hurting themselves or hurting others. We must be very aware that bullying can happen amongst our youth, bullying can happen amongst adults and bullying can also happen between adults and youth. Which do you think is most impressionable on the victim?

References:

Morse, J., Barnes, E. & Rivera, E. (2001, March 19). Williamsport: Girlhoods interrupted. Time Magazine U.S., Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,999475-2,00.html

(2010). Too young to kill: 15 shocking crimes part 4. (2010). [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JvBMdcj11Y&feature=related

Bullying is an ongoing problem in our schools and it has spilled over to electronic devices as well; such as cell phones in the form of text messages and social media sites like facebook and myspace. This has been an overwhelming problem for our adolescents in today’s society. Teens reported that bullying was a problem for them more often than racism, HIV/AIDS, or the pressure to have sex, and was as much of a problem as the pressure to use drugs or alcohol (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.).
Bullying can interfere with the important interpersonal relationships that support an adolescent's mental health and wellbeing. Bullying is defined as repeated interpersonal behavior that is intended to do physical or psychological harm (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). Increasingly, schools, communities, parents, and adolescents are acknowledging that bullying is not a rite of passage, but rather a practice that can be extremely damaging to children and teens. To help address the issue in schools, the U.S. Department of Education has released best practices upon which states can model effective anti-bullying policies. Also, in March 2011, the White House held its first Conference on Bullying Prevention to discuss how we can all work together to end bullying's status as an accepted practice, and create a safer environment for children and teens (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.).
Between 2001 and 2007, bullying has been on the rise and, in 2009; one in five high school students report that they were bullied on school property in the past year (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). This doesn’t surprise me considering I have four children and they are very vocal; about what happens in school. I have always told them never to be a follower when it comes to other students that want to make fun of someone else, because they wouldn’t want it to be done to them, and I always taught them if they can intervene and stop someone from being bullied then do their best, because by being a bystander and doing nothing to help, even if it’s getting a teacher makes them no better. Bullying someone and making them feel bad about themselves causes pain and sometimes that pain leads to tragedy.
Cyber bullying has also increased with all the electronic devices that are available to our youths. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is often crossover between being cyberbullied and being bullied in person–victims of cyberbullying were more likely to get into a physical fight at school or to be the victim of a crime than were students who were not cyberbullied (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). Adolescents who bully others are more likely to have been physically hurt by a family member and/or to have witnessed violence in their homes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.).
References:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Bullying and Adolescent Health. Retrieved November 28, 2011 from http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/news/e-updates/eupdate-7.html

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