Friday Focus!

October 16, 2015

“We need to be the change we want to see happen. We are the lead­ers we have been waiting for. Mohandis K. Gandhi

Over the last few weeks, Ms. Jacob and the administration team have been dealing with one particular issue at school and on the bus. This issue is bullying. While bullying on the surface may not seem like a huge problem, if it is allowed to continue, it can have far-reaching effects on the bully, the victim, and the school community as a whole. Therefore, we need to work together as a school community to create a positive atmo­sphere so that bullying will not become a method of destruction.

By definition, bullying is when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person through physical contact, through words, or in other ways. This behavior is dependent upon there being a power differential and can be the result of a number of differ­ent circumstances. Most bullies have average self-esteem but may have poor coping skills. Bullying is not normally done in large groups, but rather involves a small group of two to three students, often with one negative leader. Victims of bullies are usually overly sensitive, in-secure, and physically weaker. They have fewer friends and may be clumsy.

The most disturbing thing about bullying behavior is the long-term ef­fects. Studies show that students who are bullies by age 8 are three times more likely to be convicted of a crime by age 30. They are less likely to attend col­lege or to acquire a good job. By the age of 23, 35–40% of male bul­lies had three or more convictions. On the other side, students who are bullied are found to be more depressed and to have lower self-esteem. Victims of bullies are also likely to build up re­sentment toward others that may result in violent retaliation later.

Given these findings, it is crucial that schools develop a plan to combat bullying behavior so that all students can feel safe and secure in their learning environment. Bullying prevention is one of the key elements to reducing the risk of school violence (Olweus, 1993).

Below you will find a few quick tips on how you as teachers and school personnel can be agents in bullying prevention:

  • Provide supervision of students, especially during unstructured time (e.g., in hallways, outside recess, restrooms), when much of the bullying occurs.
  • Intervene when you have a suspicion that bullying is occurring.
  • Be cognizant of students who are often left alone during breaks, lunch, and so on.
  • Demonstrate a consistent attitude of non-acceptance of bullying behavior.
  • Communicate with all staff regarding observed inci­dents of bullying so that all can be aware of the issue.
  • Talk to your students, if necessary, to discuss bullying issues.
  • Recognize positive acts as often as possible (merits).
  • When imposing consequences for bullying, separate the act from the individual.
  • Encourage all students to become involved in the prevention of bullying. (Olweus, 1993)

The above tips are just some suggestions of ways staff can assist in implementing a safe and secure envi­ronment for students. We all know that students must feel safe before they can learn; these tips can assist in this endeavor.

Throughout the year, Ms. Jacob will be providing classroom guidance lessons on bullying prevention for all grade lev­els. We hope that by presenting this information and opening a dia­logue with our students, we will be able to create a school community where bullying will no longer exist. We look forward to working with you on this issue.

Have a restful and relaxing weekend