Most everyone has experienced bullying in one form or another. Research shows that bullying has gotten worse over the years so I wanted to address the problem and provide reasons as to why that may be. I want to help bring attention to the growing issue. I think that simply calling bullying what it is in and of itself is a big step toward fixing it. If administrators care more about bullying and enforce rules, people would be less likely to bully as to avoid the punishment.
Becoming More Informed: A Proposal
There is no doubt that bullying is a problem within the school system. No matter the area or socioeconomic build of the school, bullying is always present. Most everyone experiences bullying in one way or another throughout their years in school. This problem has only gotten worse with the integration of the internet into everyday life. Social media has sparked a whole new subculture of bullying known as cyber bullying. “Bullying has become deadly. Students are not joking or playing around. They intend to hard the victim. In addition, victims cannot get away from the harassment, especially if it includes cyber bullying,” (Austin) so taking bullying seriously is more important than ever before. The internet is a hub for bullies of all ages to attack both people they know, and strangers all the same. Bullying will always be an issue, but it is how we talk about it and how we address it that can change and even save lives. By focusing more on the issue at hand and treating bullying as the unacceptable activity that it is, it will decrease in our schools.
Bullying is proven to severely harm the victim’s mental health. This includes physical, cyber, social, and verbal bullying. They all play different parts in hurting the victim long term. Bullying aids in emotional difficulties therefore making it more difficult to form meaningful relationships in the future (Demaray). Bullying isn’t just a problem regarding the present—it has major consequences for our future. “Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University. A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying. 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above. According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying,” (Bullying) which shows the strong link between bullying and mental health issues. In another study regarding the link between mental health problems and bullying based on the CDC’s survey of high school students in the United States, “Dr. Adesman’s team reports that depression and suicide are much more common in teens who have been the victim of bullying in school and/or electronically,” (North). The study also showed that victims of face-to-face and cyber bullying had an even higher risk for committing suicide down the line. By taking bullying more seriously, we could be saving lives.
The mental health of our students effects how well they are able to learn. If a student is constantly worried about the next time they get bullied, they are unable to focus on their school work. According to a study published in the School Psychology Review, “results indicated that (a) emotional difficulties were significantly and positively associated with victimization for boys and girls, (b) emotional difficulties were significantly and positively associated with defending for girls, (c) executive functioning was significantly and negatively associated with defending for boys, and (d) social skills were significantly and positively related to defending behavior for boys and girls,” (Demaray) which shows that bullying has a severe impact on how students handle emotions as well as how they perform in school.
Currently, if a student has a problem with a bully, they are told to talk to a counselor about it. The problem here is that the counselors already have so much on their plates, a simple bullying situation tends to get lost in the shuffle. At the high school I went to, there were only five part time counselors for the whole school of about 2000 students. That would mean that there would be about 400 students assigned for every counselor. On top of that, counselors are not only part time, but have trainings that they go to as well. Many times it was nearly impossible to get an appointment. If there were more counselors, it would help this problem and make their jobs a lot easier. It would be a win-win situation for both parties.
Our senior year of high school, my friend witnessed first-hand how flawed the system was. In our math class there was a group of girls that harassed her constantly. She tried to just brush it off and take the high road but it was only getting worse. They ended up threatening her so she went to her counselor to try to solve the problem. The counselor that she was assigned to tried her best to help her, but her hands were tied by administration. Counselors are really only able to talk sternly; they are unable to actually punish bullies. In the short term, the problem just got worse. They called her a snitch and the threats continued. That is when she went to administration. The vice principal suggested that she just drop the math class to avoid the problem because she did not need it to graduate but her bullies did. The administrators wanted her to sacrifice her education to be safe at school. They put the needs of the bullies ahead of the student that took a math class she did not need because she wanted to take full advantage of her right to an education. She ended up dropping the class because there was no other choice that insured her security at school. If the problem was taken seriously, there would be no need to drop the math class. My friend had every right to feel safe while earning an education, but the school thought it was better to take the easy route.
Administrators need to take bullying seriously. They must “implement school policies concerning bullying and harassment,” (Austin) and actually enforce them. “When adults abandon passive approval and intervene for the welfare of students, school climate improves,” (Austin) which is what we all want. Having one assembly per year telling students that bullying is bad does nothing to help the actual problem. Everyone knows that they should not bully others, but why follow rules that are not enforced? If anti-bullying rules are only treated like a suggestion, then the problem gets significantly worse. If there are consequences for a bully’s actions, they are less likely to bully in the future. Helping solve the problem starts with treating it as such. Ignoring the problem and brushing it under the rug only makes it worse. By enforcing rules and protecting victims, the problem would improve.
By taking bullying more seriously, the problem will dissipate. The first step toward solving this problem is by paying attention to what is going on. It is so easy to turn a blind eye to bullying. Taking the easy way out is all too common in this day in age, but the problem is only getting worse with the creation of social media since the age of the internet. It is so much easier to hurt someone through a computer screen and it “can be far more hurtful since it can spread like wildfire throughout a student body and take on a life of its own,” (North). Everyone goes through it so some think that it is just part of being a kid, or even a rite of passage, but no one should have to be mentally or physically abused. Bullying is a problem that spans all races, genders, sexes, religions, etc. and by paying more attention to it, we are saving lives.
Works Cited/Annotated Bibliography
“Bullying and Suicide.” http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/bullying-and-suicide.html. Accessed 10 March 2017. This source has meaningful statistics that I plan to use to provide more information on bullying in real life. It is a reliable source that provides the sources of their information as well.
Demaray, M.K., Jenkins, L.N. & Tennant, Jaclyn. “Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Factors Associated With Bullying.” School Psychology Review, vol. 46, no. 1, March 2017, p. 42. EBSCOhost, ISSN: 02796015. This article addresses the mental health component of bullying. It follows a study that measured 8th grade students’ own perception of their social skills, emotional difficulties, and bullying. The teachers provided cognitive functioning skills. It uses the results to argue that we need to focus on the prevention of bullying. It is a peer reviewed article written by psychologists that was published in a psychology review so it is a reliable academic source. It connects to my research problem because it shows a scientific study involving real-life bullying in schools.
Austin, Shelia M., et al. “School Leadership and Counselors Working Together to Address Bullying.” Reading Improvement, vol. 53, no. 4, Winter2016, pp. 188-194. EBSCOhost, ISSN: 00340510. This source looks at school bullying post-Columbine shooting. It argues that school administration need to implement rules regarding bullying and harassment more aggressively. It proposes a possible program to help administration tackle this issue. This is another peer reviewed source making it reliable. I plan to use this to provide a way to help change the current system and to show that the problem is more severe than it seems.
North Shore-Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Health System. “Bullying leads to depression and suicidal thoughts in teens.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2015. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150427082803.htm. This source covers the mental health changes in bullying victims. It gives statistics on depression and suicide stemming from bullying and discusses multiple studies to support the argument. It is published in Science Daily which shares stories among the science community. The source of the information is Northwell Health (previously known as North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System) which is a research hospital. I plan to use this source for the statistics.