Bullying in schools is a persistent and unresolved problem. It affects the victim in numerous ways and has an adverse effect on the mental and physical health of the victim. Bullying also leads to a decrease in the academic achievements of the victim. And in extreme cases, they even tend to drop out of school.
Bullying can be categorized into two forms, ‘Direct’ and ‘Indirect’. As the effects of bullying are direct or indirect in nature.
For example- Direct bullying can be the use of unpleasant words. And indirect can be like spreading rumors about someone to devastate/tarnish somebody’s social image.
Types of Bullying:
Bullying can be classified into several types. Here’s a look at these types along with their percentage of being practiced in schools:
1. Physical [47.5%] – Involves harming the bullied, causing physical damage like cuts, bruises, punching, kicking, etc.
2. Verbal [37.2%] – This pone includes verbal abuse, threats, calling names, humiliating words, teasing, etc.
3. Social [8.1%] – Rarely practiced in schools and includes spreading rumors and backbiting, etc.
4. Psychological [4.1%] – Ignoring peers, ostracizing, teasing, etc.
5. Cyber [3.1%] – Threats through emails, reinforce humiliation during face-to-face contact.
As per the American Psychological Association, 40% to 80% of students experience bullying during their school education.
So children who bully others at school (bullies) are common across all grades and levels of schooling.
Prominent Characteristics of a Bully:
- Disrespect towards others.
- Takes pride in breaking rules and has discipline problems.
- Academic problems.
- Behavior and mental problems.
- Moody nature.
Many times bullies can also show a dip in academic performance.
How Serious Can Bullying Be?
As per the National Center of Biotechnology, U.S National Library of Medicine there are several physical, mental, and behavioral health consequences of bullying behavior.
Here’s a glimpse of these:
Physical repercussions include injuries, bruises, headaches, etc. Besides sleep disturbance is another common consequence for both the bullies and the victims. However, the latter experience all these in a more severe manner.
The center also brings forth the Psychological and physical stressors explanation under the ‘Neuroendocrinology’ header. It states that victims of bullying experience an activated stress system. That in turn alters the levels of hormones in the body. All this affects the behavior of the individual. And can be easily identified through the increased level of stress in adolescents.
In extreme cases, the victim finds himself/herself incapable of coping with stress. And this over-activation of the stress system leads to psychiatric and other disorders.
Reports confirm that this kind of harassment also leads to personal fears, fighting, and avoidance behavior. Many times victims are also seen carrying weapons at school. (Source- National Center of Educational Statistics)
Thankfully this digital age has helped in resolving this issue. Because students now have better mainstream schooling options like joining digital schooling platforms to stay safe from these threats. Today, online education has proved to be a safe haven for victims of bullying. And this medium is now becoming an ever more popular choice among students.
How to Deal With It?
Bullying needs to be addressed seriously. And parents, teachers, and students must play their part well to prevent this imbalance of power and strength.
At school, there should be very strict rules against any potential bullying or similar behavior. And the administration should intervene immediately even in the most frivolous bullying-related issue.
It is also a great idea to have a dedicated team of students, teachers, and non-teaching staff members to report/tackle and prevent these actions. And all this should be monitored by the senior school management regularly. Students should also be encouraged for more positive relationships with their peers. And all attempts should be made to make the overall learning environment ‘positive’ in nature.
They should be encouraged to report any such incidents to the school authorities and simultaneously to the parents. And adults must assure them of the necessary action to nip the issue in the bud. They should also be taught the importance of staying calm and not being provoked. Because it is even more important to tackle these issues mindfully without losing one’s own peace of mind.
It is equally important to stay aware of their child’s schooling experiences. And any activity such as bullying should be immediately reported to the school authorities for further action.
Parents must also ensure that they have an open and amicable atmosphere at home. Wherein their child feels safe to voice out his/her opinions about any such negative experiences. Parents should also make sure that they follow up on any such incidents with the school for action. And even do not hesitate to seek help from the police, if need be.
Parents/guardians and school authorities should also encourage positive bonds in students. So that they are not alone at any point in time to face these incidents alone.
Threats of Cyber Bullying
The growing influence of digitalization has also led to a new form of bullying known as cyberbullying. Bullies use digital mediums to threaten, harass or target their victims. Statistics reveal that the rate of middle and high school cyber victimization was all-time high (36.5%) by the year 2020. Which shows the growing trend of a new online harassment environment in the USA.
Reportedly, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were the most commonly used platforms to bully. And over 75% of the total bullying cases were identified only through these platforms. Countries across the world are taking steps to increase awareness about cybersecurity and safeguard their youth against cyber-bullying. And even international agencies are realizing the seriousness of this issue.
UNICEF has created a ‘Child Helpline Network’ to pervert Cyberbullying in all its forms across various countries.
Bullying in schools is a major threat to our generation. It requires a sound tracking mechanism and stringent action policy to combat this challenge of traditional schools. Parents, students, and teachers need strong collaborative action against this grave issue.
And above all, it is important to put one’s foot down and shun bullying in any form whatsoever!