In the past 20 years we have seen many “bullying incidents” turn into fatal school shootings and children committing suicide. The school districts must take “bullying” very seriously and stop thinking of it as just a part of “growing pains” as a young person. There are many different forms of “bullying” today, student to student bullying, cyber-bullying, anonymous bullying, and group bullying. We, as adults, must teach our young people how bullying is wrong and not right. Also, young people must learn that are consequences to their actions involving “bullying”.
It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. Source: National Education Association.
One in Seven students K-12th grade are victims of bullying. 56% of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school. 15% of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied at school. 71% of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school. 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month. According to bullying statistics, 1 out of every 10 students who drop out of school does so because of repeated bullying.
Bullying statistics say revenge is the strongest motivation for school shootings. 87% of students said shootings are motivated by a desire to “get back at those who have hurt them.” 86% of students said, “other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them” causes teenagers to turn to lethal violence in the schools. 61% of students said students shoot others because they have been victims of physical abuse at home. 54% of students said witnessing physical abuse at home can lead to violence in school. Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75% of school-shooting incidents. 1 out of 20 students has seen a student with a gun at school.
Suicide remains among the leading causes of death for children under the age of 14. And in most cases, the young people die from hanging. (AAS) A new review of studies from 13 countries found signs of an apparent connection between bullying, being bullied, and suicide. (Yale School of Medicine) Suicide rates among children between the ages of 10 & 14 are very low, but are “creeping up.” (Ann Haas, Director of the Suicide Prevention Project at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). Many young people being bullied find that the only way to deal with the situation is to commit suicide because they do not get any support from the school authorities and are told to just deal with the situation.
As adults, we must change our beliefs regarding “bullying” because today’s “bullying” is not the same as “bullying” when we were young. Today, a child can be bullied without even knowing who is doing the “bullying”. I believe that schools must take “bullying” seriously and let students know that the school will not tolerate such behavior and there are serious ramifications for such behavior. Schools are a primary place where bullying can happen. Helping to establish a supportive and safe school climate where all students are accepted and knowing how to respond when bullying happens are key to making sure all students are able to learn and grow.
Here are some key tools to use to stop bullying in school:
Learn what bullying is and what it is not. Many behaviors that look like bullying may be just as serious, but may require different response strategies. You can also learn about what to look for as warning signs that some of your students might be involved in bullying and who might be at more risk for being involved. Know about special considerations for specific groups.
Establish a safe school climate. Often the first step to preventing bullying is making sure the students, teachers, and administrators alike are educated about bullying. Tools like the School Bus Drivers Training and Classroom Teacher Training can help. For kids, tools like these webisodes can help them learn about bullying.
Know about your obligations under your state’s anti-bullying law. Learn also about federal laws that require schools to address harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, and disabilities. Work to establish rules and policies to help let the entire school community know the expectations around bullying and procedures to report and investigate when something happens.
Avoid misdirection in bullying prevention and response strategies.
Utilize free Federal and Non-Federal Resources on bullying.
Another key tool that can be used to combat “bullying” in school is conflict resolution/peer mediation programs. Peer mediation programs help students learn interpersonal skills important for the development of pro-social behaviors and constructive conflict management. The intervention consists of two critical elements:
- School wide conflict resolution curriculum. Project staff developed a conflict resolution curriculum taught to all students in a school. Its purpose is to provide a constructive approach to conflict and alert students to skills helpful in finding productive resolutions. The curriculum provides a context for the initiation of peer mediation. The conflict resolution curriculum is delivered through courses selected by the school and is organized around five themes: Understanding conflict, effective communication, understanding anger, handling anger, and peer mediation.
- Peer mediation program involving a cadre of trained peer mediators (20-35) in each school. A small group of students are chosen. School staff make efforts to involve a cross-section of students in terms of grade, sex, race, and socio-economic status; they also try to include some students who have or are at risk for behavior problems. The students attend two days of training in mediation skills. Those who successfully complete the training serve as school-wide peer mediators for the year.
Referrals to peer mediation can be made by students, teachers, or administrative staff; pairs of mediators use structured mediation procedures to help disputants come to mutually satisfactory agreements. School staff develop a referral protocol and schedule for mediations that can accommodate disputants in a timely manner with minimal disruption of academic activities. All mediations are conducted by pairs of peer mediators with minimal adult supervision, and proceedings are recorded on mediation agreement forms. (Source: http://cecp.air.org/preventionstrategies/conflict.htm)
This type of conflict resolution program can assist schools with dealing with “bullying” incidents in a positive way because it involves adults and students in the process.
“Bullying” is a problem that must be addressed and taken seriously by both adults and young people because we can no longer look at “bullying” as a rite of passage for young people.
Donya Zimmerman is a business consultant, mediator, and legal professional with over ten years of experience. She is owner of Family & Community Mediation and Business Consulting based in Baltimore, Maryland and has been in business since 2013. Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/FACMBC, and https://dzimmerman36.wordpress.com.