Bullying at school was once considered almost a right of passage; the harassment of the weak or “different” student by his peers was viewed as nothing more than a consequence of youth. In modern times, it has been proven that such thinking was harmful. Studies show that most bullies do not engage in belittling or violent behavior in order to hide a lack of self-esteem. In most cases, the bully is confident and possesses high self-esteem. Instead, he or she has a need to dominate others, and hold personality traits of high aggression and low impulse control.
A student who is undergoing bullying at school has several options. At the very first experience of bullying, the child should first talk to parents or trusted adults and explain the situation. The best thing a student can learn is to keep calm and composed in the face of a bully, as such individuals thrive on creating fear and humiliation. The student can simply tell them to stop, and then walk away and ignore the bully. This can be an effective technique if the confrontation is non-violent.
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Students should also realize that there is safety in numbers. Bullies will pick on a group less often than they will an individual, and thus it is good for groups of friends to stick together during breaks, lunch periods, on a bus, or when walking to and from school. Although retaliation should be the very last resort, it is the wise parent who enrolls their child in self-defense courses. Sadly, there are not always adults present to protect a child who is being violently bullied by his peers. In such a scenario, the child who knows effective self-defense techniques will usually fare better than those who don’t.
Many attempts have been made to design programs that would eliminate bullying at school. Punishing an individual bully is almost never effective, and can in fact lead the perpetrator to become vengeful, retaliating with even more aggressive and violent behavior. A commitment against bullying must be school-wide. It should involve constant adult supervision, clear rules for students, teachers, and all school staff, the involvement of parents, and a constant, consistent, increase in awareness.
Research has shown that almost half of all students experience bullying at one time or another. These children may be victims of verbal abuse, physical abuse, or cyber-bullying. Thus, bullying at school is something that cannot be tolerated in any way, shape, or form. The immediate fear of being bullied is bad enough, however, the results of such treatment can be devastating and last into adulthood. Children who experience bullying at school are more likely than non-bullied students to contemplate suicide, and often suffer from depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
If a parent suspects their child is experiencing bullying in school, he should open a dialogue with the child and encourage open communication. Parents must then take immediate action, learning as much as possible about the circumstances and the parties involved. The next step for the parent is to contact school officials, going to administrators, school board members, or even the police if the faculty and staff seem complacent or uninterested. Bullying in school will not stop on its own, and most commonly it will fall on the parent’s shoulders to start the ball rolling.