What Can We Do About Bullying in Schools?

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This topic, bullying in schools, is a bit of a different topic for my blog but it is very relevant to one’s healthy world. As a matter of fact, bullying at school could affect not only the student but also siblings, parents, friends. In other words, bullying in schools has a far-reaching rippling effect on our society. What can we do about it?

For the senior group of our society such as we are, it is not a topic of conversation on a daily basis as we don’t have young kids in our household. We would occasionally have the topic of bullying in schools come up from news reports, movies on the subject, etc. Bullying is such a big issue that pops up all over the place because of the degree of frequency and the extreme severity on young people.

The Amount of Bullying In Schools Is Shocking

The percentage of kids who are affected by bullying at school is shocking! Reports I find say 1 out 4 and even as high as 1 out of 2 kids either bully or are being bullied at school. What is even more shocking is the amount of cyberbullying that takes place on a daily basis.

Why is bullying such an important topic to talk about? Because it is tremendously damaging to all parties involved, including those who are spectators on the sidelines. These events that they witness don’t leave them easily and some of the memories never do. Also, bullying is important because the result of this terrible inter-play amongst our young people can be as devastating as an act of suicide.

There are many forms of bullying including physical bullying, emotional bullying, and cyberbullying. Other forms are sexting or circulating suggestive or nude photos or messages about a person. If someone shares an intimate secret with a “close friend” and then that friend blasts it out over social media, that is cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying Is Also Bullying At School

The cruelty of writing damaging words over the internet about a person’s appearance or handicap or sexual preference is called cyberbullying. The person posting this type of language usually has a “following” which will ensure that the post grows virally over the internet. The victim of this post sees what everyone else sees. He or she then has the torment of how to deal with it. How does this person face everyone at school knowing that this cyberbullying hit their computer screens?

A term used in relation to bullying is “imbalance of power” of one person over another. Usually, the victim is a smaller, weaker person than the bully, many times a loner type person. Perhaps the victim is different in some way than the rest of the kids and is made fun of for his or her uniqueness.

The person doing the bullying at school is oftentimes also a victim of abuse of some sort by someone with a stronger power over them. The individual cannot defend against their abuser but can take out their fear and anger against someone weaker than themselves. And so it goes. It is a vicious cycle until someone steps in to break the chain of these horrible occurrences.

How do you know if your child is a victim or a perpetrator of bullying?

There are a lot of “tells” to watch for in your child. A child being bullied will usually display one or more of the following:

  • Showing a lack of interest in activities or things that they normally enjoyed doing or handling.
  • A lackadaisical attitude by most things in their environment or conversations with siblings or the family.
  • An exceptional amount of time spent by themselves on the computer, especially playing video games. They have a preference for doing activities by themselves with no other interaction.
  • A noticeable difference in the amount of food they eat whether it’s very reduced or very increased. Some individuals have so much turmoil inside their body and their mind that they turn away from food. Some individuals are wanting to eat more than usual, especially comfort food to soothe their damaged emotions.
  • Periods of “acting out” that is out of character for him or her. In many instances, the young person wants desperately to get help, to be able to talk about what’s happening to them, but they don’t know how or with whom. Their behavior is a form of crying out for someone to notice them and help them. Instead, though, they may be seen as only “going through a phase” or “just being a teenager” or “it’s just hormones”.
  • Sleeping much more than normal. A troubled student might want to just stay in bed with the covers over their head and not have to face another day in school. They will play sick or play hooky – anything to avoid school.
  • He or she comes home with bruises or dirty clothes or no schoolbag or no school books. The student has in one way or another been accosted by someone who physically harmed them. Maybe the bully has molested them by grabbing their belongings and wouldn’t give them back.
  • The child will have moods of brooding and wants to be left alone.
  • He or she says self-denigrating statements often displaying a low sense of self-esteem.
  • The child speaks of or demonstrates an extreme sensitivity and dislike of any uniqueness or abnormality they may possess. There might be statements that they feel inferior to others because of these traits.

Signs of a child being the bully:

  • Being overly obsessed with the need to be popular. Bullies generally want to have an entourage of friends who think that they are cool.
  • Having behavior problems at school with failing grades.
  • They are being aggressive towards people or animals.
  • They hang with a group of friends who show a tendency towards disrespect and violence.
  • The student is having trouble sleeping at night or has frequent nightmares containing violence.
  • The student does not have a good relationship at home with family members and rebels against rules and restrictions.
  • The child is being physically, emotionally, or verbally abused at home and wants to strike out at someone weaker than he or she is.

What Can Be Done To Fight Bullying In Schools?

Bullies in school need to have the support of friends who bolster their sense of having power over others. They travel in packs like the animals do or in gangs for the power of imbalance. It is vitally important to them that their peers respect them but most of all that they are feared.

One tactic that is being explored is to encourage non-violent kids to form “gangs” of their own who support each other and uplift each other. This can be done through a program of complimenting each other’s strong points and values. Their outward intolerance of bullying in schools provides an open door for those who are threatened. The victims can seek out this group and find someone with whom they can talk about their issues instead of keeping them inside.

Being able to find a safe harbor enables the victim to talk it out and get help from either their peers or from more senior authorities who will step in to help. When kids realize that there are other students with whom they can open up and feel safe, their confidence is once again restored which is the foundational step to their healing.

“Gangs” of Good Kids To Counteract Bullying In Schools

There is a lot of work that needs to be done for this far-reaching problem, and a lot of work IS being done all across our land as we speak. Parents and students alike need to know that when the kids get on that school bus or get out of their parent’s car at the curb of the school that they are entering a safe place, not a place to be feared, threatened or molested.

If you have young people still at home with you, take notice of their behavior. Make it easy for them to talk with you about these issues. If you notice any odd behavior that makes you suspect bullying in school, don’t ignore the signs! Get involved and take action. Let your child know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will protect your child every way you can and will provide a safe environment everywhere including school.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Denise | 11th Oct 18

    Hi Christine! Thanks for posting about this topic. As a mother of a teenage son I am always on the lookout for these kinds of issues. We had some serious problems with this in elementary school. Our son was being teased and taunted relentlessly, surprisingly by a group of girls. We tend to think that girls are less prone to bullying behavior, but that’s often not the case. Once we identified the trend, we were able to fix the problem with help from teachers and other students. And yes, “gangs” of good students! When your child (of any age) BELONGS to a group, makes friends, and feels more confident, they are much less of a target. Our son joined the school band in elementary school and it changed everything. He’s now in the high school band. It’s a group of very diverse kids. Not all of them like each other, but they enjoy a sense of community and purpose and there’s a respect that goes along with that. Many of them have become great friends even though they are very different. I would highly recommend that parents consider helping their child by encouraging them to explore their interests and become part of a group!

    • Christine | 13th Oct 18

      Thank you so much for your valuable input, Denise! It’s great to hear from a mother who has a teenage son in high school and how this issue is handled in his environment. I liked what you said that the students in the band may not necessarily like each other but they respect each other for their musical ability and contribution to the whole. This community of “band” is formed by a commonality of interests and talent which bolsters each other’s confidence. The acceptance of peers is paramount for a healthy sense of self-worth. It’s refreshing to hear from you about your family. You son is in a family who supports him, is aware of circumstances in his environment, and who has provided him a safe haven within which to thrive. Thank you so much for sharing.

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