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Bullying is a reality in our children's lives

In a 2001 study by the Kaiser Foundation in conjunction with Nickelodeon TV network and Children Now, 86% of children ages 12-15 interviewed said they get teased or bullied at school - making bullying more prevalent than smoking, alcohol, drugs, or sex among the same age group.

Bullying as depicted in "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm"
Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm

Almost 30% of youth in the United States (or over 5.7 million) are estimated to be involved in bullying as either a bully, a target of bullying, or both. In a recent national survey of students in grades 6-10, 13% reported bullying others, 11% reported being the target of bullies, and another 6% said that they bullied others and were bullied themselves.

Bullying seems to appear differently for both boys and girls. While both groups of youth report that others bully them by making fun of their appearance or behavior, boys are more likely to be physically bullied by being hit, slapped, or pushed. Girls, however, are more likely than boys to report being the targets of rumors and sexual harassment. Boys have been known to target both boys and girls. Girls, on the other hand, will stick to bullying other girls, using more subtle and indirect tactics of aggression than boys. Girls are more likely to spread devastating gossip about another girl, or to encourage other girls to completely exclude another girl, than they would be to get into a physical confrontation.   

The risk factors for bullying behavior are surprising. For quite some time many people believed that bullies acted aggressively mean in order to hide their own insecurities and feelings hatred for themselves, however, studies show that bullies tend to be confident, with high self-esteem. They tend to be in general more physically aggressive, with an openly expressed pro-violence attitude, and are typically easily angered, impulsive, and easily frustrated by others. Bullies have a need to control others and tend to feel no remorse for those they bully.  Male bullies are often physically bigger and stronger than their peers. Boy and girl bullies tend to get into more trouble at school and with the law, than teens who do not bully others. They are also more likely to fight, drink and smoke than teens who choose not to bully. This is not always the case with girl bullies, however, sometimes the girl bullies are the students that are adored by adults. Which is another difference in the gender bullying.

Children and teens that come from homes where parents provide little emotional support for their children, aren't involved in or aware of their activities, are at greater risk for this bullying behavior. Parents' discipline styles are also related to bullying behavior.  Children that come from homes with either an extremely permissive or excessively harsh approach to discipline can increase the risk of teenage bullying. 

Surprisingly, bullies appear to have little difficulty in making friends. Their friends typically share their violent attitudes and problem behaviors (such as drinking and smoking) and may be involved in bullying as well. These friends are often followers that don't often bully others by themselves, but will participate in it.

Effective programs have been developed to reduce bullying in schools. Research has found that bullying is most likely to occur in schools where there is a lack of adult supervision during breaks, where teachers and students are indifferent to or accept bullying behavior, and where rules against bullying are not consistently enforced.

While approaches that simply crack down on individual bullies are seldom effective, when there is a school-wide commitment to end bullying, it can be reduced by up to 50%. One approach that has been shown to be effective focuses on changing school and classroom climates by: raising awareness about bullying, increasing teacher and parent involvement and supervision, forming clear rules and strong social norms against bullying, and providing support and protection for all students. This approach involves teachers, principals, students, and everyone associated with the school, including janitors, cafeteria workers, and crossing guards. Adults become aware of the extent of bullying at the school, and they involve themselves in changing the situation, rather than looking the other way. Students pledge not to bully other students, to help students who are bullied, and to make a point to include students who are left out.

There are devastating stories everyday about the affects that bullying has made on our youth. In this age of technology the ways that children bully continues to change and increase. We need to be aware of it and the way it molds our society. We need to be conscience of what should or shouldn't be acceptable, and keep a watchful eye on the way that it affects our own children. Remembering that instead of saying, "Sticks and stones...." and blowing off some serious hurt our children might feel, let them discuss it openly. Being able to discuss the seriousness of their hurt feelings and validating those feelings can make a huge difference.  

Local Zero Tolerance Schools
Weatherford ISD , Brock ISD , Safe school coalition

Activities that boost confidence:  Baseball, Softball, Teeball , Gymnastics


  • Doug 5 years ago

    With many years as a Middle School Principal as a reference point - I can say you are 100% on target with this article. Good job!

  • Jane 5 years ago

    After 20 years in the classroom, I must agree with you! Bullying is an horrific problem. It truly does take a village to raise a child -- everyone must be cognizant of what's going on and take what a child has to say to heart. Do not just blow it off as inconsequential. Thank you!

  • Julia Tidd 5 years ago

    Thanks for point this out. Bullying has been around for generations and does seem to be at an all time high with the newer methods social media has brought about. Empathy is something kids do not seem to be learning anymore, which is sad.

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