Bullying has often been written off as “kids just are mean to each other”. But bullying has significant consequences for both the bullied and the one doing the bullying. There are sobering, significant facts associated with bullying. For example:
* 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students.
* 1 in 7 Students in Grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying
* 56% of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school.
* 15% of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied at school.
* 71% of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school.
* 1 out of 20 students has seen a student with a gun at school.
* 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month.
* 90% of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of bullying.
* Bullying statistics say revenge is the strongest motivation for school shootings.
* 87% of students said shootings are motivated by a desire to “get back at those who have hurt them.”
* 86% of students said, “other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them” causes teenagers to turn to lethal violence in the schools.
* 61% of students said students shoot others because they have been victims of physical abuse at home.
* According to bullying statistics, 1 out of every 10 students who drops out of school does so because of repeated bullying.
* Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75% of school-shooting incidents
There are some common characteristics which often starts with the youth having a favorable view of violence. The bully tends to be aggressive towards both peers and adults. Boys who bully are often stronger than their peers, and especially their victims. Often these youth are impulsive, and easily frustrated. They appear tough, and show little sympathy towards others. And they are good at talking their way out of difficult situations. Contrary to popular opinion, bullies generally are not outcasts; rather, they are often somewhat popular students who raise their social status by picking on others. The bully also needs support from peers in order to do the bullying. The “observer” gives the bully the attention needed to bully. Those who get bullied generally can be seen as one of several types of child. The two most common types are the passive victim or the provocative victim. Passive or submissive victims are characterized as having few friends, being extremely sensitive children, and often are boys who do not like to fight. They may be unsure of themselves in new situations which makes them a target for the bully. The majority of bullied students are children of this type. A provocative victim may try to bully weaker children, are quick to anger, and may not be successful in retaliating against bullying that happens to them. Often, this type of bully is the target of an entire class. This type of bully is often seen as having attention problems, and may not be liked by teachers because of irritating behaviors demonstrated by the child. This type of victim comprises about 20% of those students who are bullied. A youth who bullies is asking for help. A youth who has been bullied is also in need of help. School violence, drop outs, suicides, and mental health issues are all distinct possibilities for both the bullied and the one who bullies. It is important for parents, then, to listen to their child who speaks of getting picked on. It is also important for parents to listen if they have been told their child has bullied someone. Helping each child un-learn the behaviors that lead to bullying is possible, but requires parents to take an active role at home and at school to stop the cycle of bullying. In addition, it is imperative that parents and community members set the expectation at schools that bullying will not be tolerated. Getting involved in school policy making that prohibits bullying, and holding schools accountable for following through on this can make the difference in bullying. Finally, if you believe your child has been bullied, or has acted as a bully, please contact your school and if necessary the police.
(Sources: John Parquette, Director of Youth and Family Services (www.hanover-township.org)