Bullying and Classroom Harassment
In order for children to grow into adults with healthy relationships, they must first learn that violence and abusive behaviors are not the solution to any problem. Bullying behavior reinforces the learned behavior that violence is acceptable.
In 6-10th grade U.S. students, 13% reported bullying others, 11% reported being the target of a bully, and an additional 6% reported being both target and a bully.
“66% of victims of bullying believed school professionals responded poorly to the bullying problems.”
Bullying by boys declines after age 15 and bullying by girls drastically increases after age 14.
“25 percent of students victimized by bullying reported they were belittled about their race or religion.”
Definition of Bullying:
Bullying “involves repeated physical, verbal or psychological attacks or intimidation directed against a victim who cannot properly defend him- or herself because of size or strength, or because the victim is outnumbered or less psychologically resilient.”
Bullying includes assault, tripping, intimidation, rumor-spreading and isolation, demands for money, destruction of property, theft of valued possessions, destruction of another’s work, and name-calling. Also includes hazing, ostracism, sexual harassment (sexting).
Bullying is learned:
“Adolescent bullies tend to become adult bullies, and then tend to have children who are bullies.”
There are higher bullying rates among children whose parents use physical punishment or violence against them.
The history of the parent-child relationship may contribute to cultivating a bully, and low levels of peer and teacher intervention combine to create opportunities for chronic bullies to thrive.
Consequences of Bullying:
Victims of bullying often:
- Have trouble focusing in school.
- Suffer from depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide.
- Fear going to school, using the bathroom, and riding the school bus.
Bullies are more likely than others to:
- Drink alcohol and smoke
- Be injured in a fight
- Be truant from school
- Become abusers in intimate relationships as adults
Bullying and the school environment:
- NEA has found that “Bullying creates a climate of fear and disrespect in schools and has a negative impact on student learning.”
The Center’s Bully Prevention Program TEACH:
The TEACH program is a youth-adult partnership, school supported “club”, dedicated to eliminating bullying and harassment on middle school campuses. TEACH students learn the different forms of bullying and harassment, how to stay safe, assertive communication and body language, coping skills, being an active bystander, and respecting others.
All weekly sessions involve crafts, games, and other fun activities that emphasize building strengths following the Search Institute’s Forty Developmental Assets. A favorite activity that youth like is “TEACH Trash”, a problem solving activity that involves peer-to-peer support. In the beginning of each session, kids write down (anonymously) a problem they are having, crumple it up, and throw it into a trash can. The trash can represents their internal garbage they keep stored up day after day. At the end of each session the adult facilitator reads trash labeled “yes” or “read.” Kids then brainstorm ideas on how to help their peers, clearly helping them build healthy relationships.
After the TEACH students develop skills, they become leaders in bully prevention and demonstrate their knowledge by educating their peers at school, in the community, and at home. By creating youth leaders, we have literally reached thousands of students in our six years of existence. This was made possible by youth who participated in TEACH sessions, then told other youth, who then told other youth. Our program helps youth become socially, morally, emotionally, physically, and cognitively competent.
Our TEACH program reflects the five supports and opportunities of the Youth Development Framework for Practice: Safety- bully prevention skills including assertive body language, assertive communication, and the bystander role. Relationship Building- respecting individuals and their differences, seeing everyone as an equal resource, friendship skills, and peer-to-peer/adult-youth partnerships. Youth Participation – youth activity in each session, school-wide events and activities. Skill Building -communication, respect. friendship, self-esteem, resiliency, conflict resolution, anger management, bystander role, and personal responsibility. Community Involvement – TEACH youth use their newly acquired skills to educate k-5 kids about bully prevention through fun puppet shows and skits. Research has proven that helping youth develop these skills and strengths are necessary to prevent serious problems and show significant improvement in academic achievement and school success.
It is clear to the students that youth are an essential asset to our community, and need to be nurtured and developed. It is important for us to provide them with resources and utilize what skills and talents they offer. Students participating in TEACH learn skills necessary to resolve conflicts, respect themselves and others, communicate assertively, manage anger, make friends, and develop healthy relationships with peers and adults thereby improving their chances of being successful in high school and beyond. This is taught through fun interactive activities that engage students. TEACH participants act as role models for their peers spreading bully prevention information through their school. Currently middle school students perform skits for their peers and puppet shows for elementary students demonstrating their skills learned in TEACH.
Sampson, Rana. United States, Department of Justice. Bullying in Schools. , 2008. Print.
“What Adults Can Do.” Stop Bullying Now. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Web. 2 Dec 2009. <stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/adults/tip-sheets/default.aspx>.
“Bullying Facts and Statistics.” SafeYouth. 2007. National Youth Violence Prevention Center, Web. 2 Dec 2009. <www.safeyouth.org/scripts/faq/bullying.asp>.