School Violence Prevention: Dealing With Bullies

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Bullying has been a part of school life since school began. Who doesn’t carry a memory of the schoolyard bully?

However, in today’s school environment, bullying has escalated into full-scale attacks on students using online mediums that continue the bullying well after the school day ends. Students often feel there’s no escape from the 24/7 attacks that can take on a viral life of their own online. Fueled by the Internet and other social trends, a tragic twist on bullying has seen victim’s taking their own lives, from peer harassment.

In the last year, the following teen suicides are tragically, suspected results of bullying:

According to recent research, many students report that they do not feel safe at school.

Teachers, administrators, boards of education, and all school staff are being held more accountable than ever for bullying and school violence prevention. Many districts are being sued for their perceived inaction regarding harassment incidents. The problem lies in that many adults think that bullying is just a part of growing up. This is not true. Bullying is damaging, both to victims and bullies. Ignoring the realities of bullying is dangerous for the entire school community.

Bullying is usually thought of in physical terms, typically calling to mind a bully knocking books out of a smaller student’s hands, taking his lunch money, or starting a fight. But bullying is much more than that. It can be seen in a variety of forms including: Emotional, Social, Racial, Physical, Sexual, and Verbal attacks.

Students can experience bullying in different forms and in different places. For example, bullying can happen on a bus when a single driver is distracted by the responsibility of driving a huge vehicle full of kids. Bullying hurts and the longer it goes on, the more pain it causes the victim. People react differently to that pain. Some turn it on themselves, creating a sense of unworthiness that can easily result in a wide variety of self-destructive acts.

Other students turn their anger and frustration on others. Whether they take violent actions or not, thoughts of revenge are the norm for bullying victims.

Bullying is not just a problem that affects an individual, but endangers an entire school community and its overall effectiveness. Bullying disrupts classrooms; spreads fear among students; reduces teacher effectiveness and lowers student attentiveness.

Dealing with bullying is a constant challenge for schools and districts. Parents and the media are questioning districts more than ever on the issue. School personnel need to recognize bullying as an ongoing priority to protect themselves and the students they strive to educate.

The good news is that by dealing with bullying and the associated issues of teasing, harassment, and ostracism, schools can help prevent potential disasters from happening.

To deal with bullies, schools and districts must:

Training staff to identify the signs of bullying and to prevent escalation is critical in a school’s campaign against bullying. SafeSchools’ school employee training program on Bullying recommends that staff:

Administrators and teachers should:

Every staff member in a district is important in the fight against bullying. Each staff member’s observation and timely response are critical to affecting behavioral change. The staff’s ability to remain sensitive to student behavior is an essential element of identifying and stemming the problem of bullying.