Recent research shows that 28% of students have suffered from bullying by reaching sixth grade (“October is Bullying Prevention Month,” 2015). Bullying is described as the intentional tormenting of someone in a physical, verbal, or psychological way. It can range from hitting, shoving, name-calling and threats to taking money and possessions away. Some kids bully others by excluding and spreading rumors about them (Lyness, 2013). Bullying is a serious problem that many schools are trying to battle. It can affect victims emotionally, socially, and academically. This research paper aims to define bullying, identify characteristics of bullying, identify a bully, prevent and stop it, and create a safe environment in schools and our communities. The intended impact of this paper is for students to realize the importance of creating and maintaining a safe and friendly school environment. Observing students’ behavior inside and outside the classroom is a great way to start exposing the problem of bullying. We live in a society where many of these students come from public housing and are raised in hostile or dysfunctional family environments. Many of the students are surrounded by violent or disrespectful conduct, which affects their behavior towards other classmates in school. Most of the time, students do not realize they are bullying someone or being bullied. Bullying can occur in verbal, emotional, and physical ways. Some students may call bad names to other classmates, spread rumors, or tell mean jokes and not realize that what they are doing is wrong.
Some of the factors thought to be related to bullying behavior in young children include parents’ treatment of each other, witnessing maltreatment, developing aggression and social skills influenced by television and other media, and helping children recognize, understand, and control their emotions. “It is only when we recognize that bullying behaviors do not simply appear in elementary or middle school, but maybe part of a developmental trajectory, that bullying will cease” (“October is Bullying Prevention Month,” 2015). The following three literature reviews will explain how bullying impacts early childhood and how we can identify and approach bullying.
Causes of Bullying
In a comprehensive article by Kidshealth.org, the author stated that kids tend to bully other kids because they feel insecure about themselves. They need to find a victim that appears to be emotionally or physically weaker to feel more powerful, important, or stronger. Sometimes kids bully other kids because that is how they have been treated either at school, at home, or neighborhood (Lyness, 2013). This means that kids who have been bullied may eventually become bullies themselves. Television and video games also have an enormous influence on the social behavior of children. Children who are surrounded by violent conduct tend to see violent behavior as normal.
Another cause of bullying can be an expression of anger to fellow students in school. According to Lekunze and Strom (2017), students experience enormous frustrations at both home and school. The frustrations are because of the negative environment that surrounds the student, such as having abusive parents and teachers (Yang et al., 2018). Frustrations can later manifest into anger if not detected early enough and controlled. When the hunger is not controlled, the student can express it to others by harassing their counterparts to who they are naturally attracted. Moreover, the negative environment makes the children regard bullying as a norm. As a result, they can bully others without even realizing what they are doing.
Also, bullying in school can be caused because of poor upbringing in their families. According to Durán et al. (2017), a family plays a critical role in their kid’s upbringing, and they can determine the kind of a person that child will be if they reach maturity age. However, some families fail to instill sensitive values into their children, raising incentive kids (Sampson, 2016). For instance, on rare occasions, some parents can fail to instill the value of care to their kids (Nocentini et al., 2019). This can result from little or violent interaction with their child, who eventually sees no value in caring for others. Therefore, they bully others unknowingly because they don’t care about others’ feelings.
How To Identify If a Child Is Being Bullied
According to the article, while identifying a case of bullying can be difficult unless the child decides to speak about it or shows some bruising, there are some warning signs we can look for. Some warning signs are anxious behavior, disinterest in things or hobbies they usually enjoy, and not eating or sleeping well. Avoiding situations like taking the school bus should also raise an alert. With children who are more reluctant to speak about the problem, the topic should be discussed in the most roundabout manner. For example, you might see a situation on a TV show and use it as a conversation starter by asking, “What do you think of this?” or “What do you think that person should have done?” (Lyness, 2013). It is important to let kids know that they should let someone else know about it if somebody is bullying them. If a child does tell you about it, “listen calmly and offer comfort and support” (Lyness, 2013). Most kids hesitate to tell adults they are being bullied “because they feel embarrassed and ashamed that it’s happening, or worry that their parents will be disappointed, upset, angry, or reactive.” Sometimes children can feel at fault for being bullied because if they changed the way they looked or behaved, the bullying would stop. Other times kids are afraid that their parents will make them fight back or that if the bully finds out he has been called out, everything will worsen (Lyness, 2013).
According to the article, we adults should applaud children for telling us when they are being bullied. We should also remind them that they are not alone. Many people have been bullied at one point in their lives, and there are even more people who are willing to help those who are being bullied today (Lyness, 2013). If a child comes to you and confesses being bullied, they are most likely expecting your help. It is important to let school authorities know of any case of bullying since they often have the resources and experience to deal with these situations (Lyness, 2013). “It’s important to take bullying seriously and not just brush it off as something that kids have to ‘tough out.’ The effects can be serious and affect kids’ sense of safety and self-worth. In severe cases, bullying has contributed to tragedies, such as suicides and school shootings” (Lyness, 2013).
Techniques To Deal with Being Bullied at School
It is important to teach our children different techniques or approaches to help them deal with being bullied at school. The Kidshealth.org article includes five strategies to discuss with children that “can help improve the situation and make them feel better”: Avoid the bully and use the buddy system. Stay away from areas where the bully is. Try not to walk alone through the school, partner up with a buddy. Hold the anger. Showing that you are angry or upset will only make your bully happy. Practice techniques to help you manage your emotions. For example, counting to 10, taking deep breaths, making a poker face, or just walking away. Act brave, walk away, and ignore the bully. People who bully are just striving for attention, and if you give it to them, they will stay. With a strong voice, tell the bully to stop and walk away. Tell an adult. This includes parents and school authorities. Talk about it. Talk about it with a friend, family member, or someone else you trust. Speaking with someone about the things that bother us can make us feel better (Lyness, 2013).
The article ends by encouraging adults to help children restore confidence. “Dealing with bullying can erode a child’s confidence. To help restore it, encourage your kids to spend time with friends who have a positive influence” (Lyness, 2013). In addition, sports, music, or groups can help children create a strong sense of friendship (Lyness, 2013).
Similar to the first article, an article written by Nadia S. Ansary, Maurice J. Elias, Michael B. Greene, and Stuart Green presents the topic of bullying in a very serious tone. It presents different ways to approach bullying in schools. “Harassment, intimidation, and bullying pose a serious public and mental health concern that can poison the climate of schools and affect students’ ability to focus on learning” (Ansary, Elias, Greene, & Green, 2015). According to this article, while all 50 states have anti-bullying laws, many schools struggle to implement appropriate anti-bullying approaches. One of the reasons why many anti-bullying programs fail in schools is because effective anti-bullying approaches require schools to activate substantial resources. With the ever-increasing budget constraints, school administrators feel tempted to rely on less costly alternatives” (Ansary, Elias, Greene, & Green, 2015). According to the authors, there are three common features that successful anti-bullying programs generally share: 1. “The program’s central values and philosophy emphasize a positive school climate and strategies founded on social-emotional and character development” (Ansary, Elias, Greene, & Green, 2015). 2. “A long-term commitment to effective program implementation, assessment of program effectiveness, and sustainability” (Ansary, Elias, Greene, & Green, 2015). 3. “Clear, and consistent strategies are outlining what to do when bullying occurs” (Ansary, Elias, Greene, & Green, 2015). Effective programs involve a whole-school approach and ensure that everyone is committed to preventing and eliminating bullying. The students and school staff should be provided with general information about bullying and how to approach it if it occurs. In addition, this information should be integrated into the schools’ curricula (Ansary, Elias, Greene, & Green, 2015).
Equally important, the topic of bullying prevention in early childhood comes up in the Curriculum Review article (“October is Bullying Prevention Month,” 2015). According to this article, “by the time students enter sixth grade, nearly 28 percent report having been targeted by a bully” (“October is Bullying Prevention Month,” 2015). The reading mainly focuses on four main factors that are related to bullying behavior in young children. The first factor mentioned is the behavior of parents toward each other, their children, and people outside the family. This immensely influences the way children treat their classmates. The second factor mentioned is that young children who observe maltreatment are more likely to become a bully. The third factor mentioned is how television and other media influence the development of aggression and social skills. Finally, the last factor mentioned is helping children recognize, understand, and control their emotions. This can meaningfully reduce harassment and violence (“October is Bullying Prevention Month,” 2015).
Finally, the article presents “five tips for students from a former bully” (“October is Bullying Prevention Month,” 2015). These tips are given by Emily-Ann Rigal, a girl who was bullied as a child before she became a bully herself. Now she is on a mission to help kids who are dealing with bullying, and she has even written a book, “Flawd: How to Stop Hating on Yourself, Others and the Things that Make You Who You Are.” The article includes Rigal’s top five tips for overcoming bullying: 1. “Know who you are,” 2. “Choose your friends wisely,” 3. “Reach out to kids who are teased,” 4. “Take charge of the noise in your head,” and 5. “Trust that the bad times will pass” (“October is Bullying Prevention Month,” 2015). This advice complements very well those given in the Kidshealth.org article.
To conclude, we as adults must give children the necessary tools to deal with bullying. Even more important is to target bullying from the roots, early childhood. Bullying is a serious problem that many schools are struggling to battle. It is important to let kids know that they should speak up if they experience any harassment at school or anywhere else. The three pieces of literature reviewed in this paper support the idea that bullying needs to be constantly addressed and not dismissed as something normal.
Moreover, bullying requires an integrated approach to handle it effectively. In most cases, parents and teachers in school are always responsible for shaping the character of their children and students, respectively. However, the negative environment created by society can impact the character development of kids and create bullies. Therefore, developing a curriculum to handle bullying can be ineffective if there is negativity in society. Hence, bullying can be reduced when there is a collective approach to the issue.
Ansary, N. S., Elias, M. J., Greene, M. B., & Green, S. (2015). Best practices to address (or reduce) bullying in schools. Phi Delta Kappan, 97(2), 30-35. Web.
Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA). (2019, December 4). Key Components in state anti-bullying laws, policies, and regulations. StopBullying.gov. Web.
Bullying statistics. Bullying Statistics – National Bullying Prevention Center. (n.d.). Web.
Durán, L. G., Scherñuk Schroh, J. C., Panizoni, E. P., Jouglard, E. F., Serralunga, M. G., & Esandi, M. E. (2017). Bullying at school: the agreement between caregivers’ and children’s perception. Arch Argent Pediatr, 115(1), 35-42. Web.
Lekunze, L. M. G., & Strom, B. I. (2017). Bullying and Victimisation Dynamics in High School: An Exploratory Case Study. Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability, 19(1), 147-163. Web.
Lyness, D. (Ed.). (2013). Helping Kids Deal with Bullies. [Web.]. Retrieved March 20, 2016, October is Bullying Prevention Month. Experts Say Prevention Should Focus on Early. Childhood. (2015). Curriculum Review, 55(2), 11.
Nocentini, A., Fiorentini, G., Di Paola, L., & Menesini, E. (2019). Parents, family characteristics and bullying behavior: A systematic review. Aggression and violent behavior, 45, 41-50. Web.
Yang, F., Nelson-Gardell, D., & Guo, Y. (2018). The role of strains in negative emotions and bullying behaviors of school-aged children. Children and Youth Services Review, 94, 290-297. Web.