A 2014 study on bullying revealed that in spite of a variety of anti-bullying programs at schools and in the community, the instances of bullying and its effects are largely unchanged. The managing researcher of the study, Jeana Juvomen PHD, stated that “Band-Aid solutions such as having school assemblies regarding bullying are simply not effective.”
Most of the American public relies on schools almost entirely to remediate the difficulties associated with bullying. Some researchers have suggested that this is an essential flaw in the national consciousness because schools are a part of the community but alone, they may not be successful and reducing any of the challenges that young people encounter. Most schools are under tremendous pressure to reduce costs and to provide a quality education to every student.
At the same time schools are expected to implement effective and comprehensive anti-bullying programs. These school-wide programs are more effective; however, they are expensive and require heavy staff participation. These elements are at odds with the desire of the general public to keep costs down around educational expenses The study, recently published in the journal, Annual Review of Psychology revealed several misunderstandings while confirming a number of currently held thoughts about bullying.
For example, it was previously believed that only girls used verbal aggression and isolation strategies to bully. The new research indicated that boys use both bullying tactics just as often as girls. Starting in grade school students who were different in some way were bullied much more often. In addition, children who have no friends or a support group are much more likely to be bullied than their peers with friends or a support group. In fact, students with just one friend are less likely to be bullied. Students with friends are more resilient when they are bullied and the effects of bullying are less.
Some researchers now believe that implementing school strategies that promote friendships for the victims of bullying may help them to cope with bullying. One researcher suggested that schools need to put a triage system in place so that strong support efforts are implemented for students who were frequent victims of bullying while kids who occasionally get called a bad name might need less support. The study also found that students who were bullied at school were also more likely to be cyberbullied. “Researchers found that many students that were cyberbullied on Tuesday did not show up to school on Wednesday.”
Students who are bullied are much more likely to be depressed, blame themselves for being bullied and strongly believe that nothing can protect them from being bullied. Many children who are bullied internalize their grief and as a result experience much higher levels of somatic ailments. They experience higher levels of headaches, stomachaches, colds and other illnesses. The study found that three in four teenagers were bullied on-line over the last 12 months.
Nearly 50 percent of sixth-graders were bullied by classmates during a five day period. Perhaps the most disturbing confirmation of the recent study was that bullies are popular among their peers. I grew up with a notion of bullies that they were misunderstood and possibly from a difficult home and while we did not like them there was a feeling of sympathy toward them.
I do not recall that any bully that I knew was popular; they may have been feared but not well liked. It may have been easier to control bullies at school when they were not so popular. The popularity of bullies may make it more difficult for victims to report bullying as the bully is popular among their peers. Victims may also observe that the bully is liked by adults in the school and community and may perceive that adults may be even less likely to come to their rescue because of the bullies’ popularity.
Some researchers suggest that when bullying victims express that it is their fault that they are being bullied they may simply be interpreting the way adults act around bullies as supportive of the bully. I don’t think anyone would expect that adults treat bullies with contempt at all times. Rather, that when bullying does occur that adults define the situation as it really is, one party is the victim and the other party is the offender. The popularity of bullies may make this discussion much more difficult than it once was. Remember, all kids count.
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