Bullying is one of the most prevalent and widely discussed topics pertaining to school safety and security. The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that 20.1% of students had been bullied on school property and 16.2% of students had been electronically bullied (i.e., cyberbullied) during the 12 months before the survey. This type of conduct has been shown to have profound effects on youth which often continue into adulthood. Bullying behaviors in adolescence have been shown to increase the likelihood of mental health issues and negative social outcomes (Bauer, Lozano, & Rivara, 2007; Evers, Prochaska, Van Marter, Johnson, & Prochaska, 2007). Specifically, students who are bullied have shown higher levels of anxiety, higher levels of depression, and are more prone to sleeping disorders (Fekkes, Pijpers, and Vanhorick, 2004). In addition, incidents of bullying have shown to increase fear in the overall school environment, interfere with academic achievement, and foster a low level of trust in adults (Griffin, 2012). Overall, incidents of bullying create a negative school climate for teachers, staff, parents, students, and the community.
“Bullying has been shown to lead to absences and poor performance in the classroom. And that alone should give us pause, since no child should be afraid to go to school in this country.”
President Barack Obama
The likelihood of severe consequences bullying can have on an individual, school, and community, accompanied by the prevalence rates of such behavior, has been the impetus for many states, including Texas, to define certain conduct as bullying and mandate policy and procedure for handling of such incidents. Specifically, the Texas Education Code (TEC §37.0832 (a)) defines bullying as engaging in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic means, or physical conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, or in a vehicle operated by the district and that has the effect or will have the effect of physically harming a student, damaging a student's property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to the student's person or of damage to the student's property; or is sufficiently severe, persistent, and pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student. In addition, conduct must exploit an imbalance of power between the student perpetrator and the student victim through written or verbal expression or physical conduct; and interferes with a student's education or substantially disrupts the operation of a school.
Though a strong and dedicated administration is vital in bullying prevention, the support from students, teachers, school staff, parents, and other community members is of equal importance (United States Department of Health and Human Services, 2012b). Utilizing a whole-community approach encourages all involved with the school to discuss the topic of bullying prevention together. This approach encourages the prevention efforts to not only occur in school, but extends them into the home and throughout the community. By working together and educating one another, the most effective prevention efforts can be discovered and implemented.
Understanding cyberbullying can be a challenge, particularly as there is a plethora of definitions circulating on the topic. Having multiple definitions for cyberbullying can lead to confusion. To better understand cyberbullying, this article will utilize the most common definition available: ‘an aggressive, intentional act carried out by a group or individual, using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself.’ (Read more…)
Bullying is one of the most prevalent and widely discussed topics pertaining to school safety and security. The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that 20.1% of students are bullied on school property and 16.2% of students are electronically bullied (cyberbullied). Bullying has been shown to have profound effects on youth which often continue into adulthood. Media discourse about the impact of bullying is anecdotal at best, and tends to focus on extreme cases where a student takes his or her life. However, there are many more cases of bullying that do not culminate in suicide. Research into the effects of bullying and causal relationships regarding bullying and its impact has been ongoing since the first systematic study of bullying accomplished in 1978 by Dan Olweus. (Read more…)
It is well understood that bullying, for some youth, is a daily experience. Take, for instance, the story of Will. Will attended the same school since first grade. Like many students, Will had several close friends and fit in. However, during his fifth grade year his friends and classmates began calling him vulgar names. These same students tripped him in the hallway, knocked his books from his hands, and even threatened physical harm. Eventually the threats became reality when Will was physically assaulted at a school football game. What was the catalyst for the rapid and vicious turn of events? Will revealed he was gay in the fifth grade (Gray, 2013). This news story illustrates a growing concern in schools—bullying amongst vulnerable populations. Populations with higher vulnerability include LGBT Youth (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender) as well as youth with special needs. (Read more…)
In a time where district budgets are being cut and pressure is increasing on administrators to ensure student safety, solutions need to be developed that can meet both of these competing interests. One of the biggest issues facing students, parents, and school personnel today is the frequency and long lasting effects of bullying. Incidents of bullying can affect the school environment, the community, and most importantly the psychological and developmental state of the youth involved (e.g. victims, perpetrators, and bystanders). Specifically, students who are bullied have shown higher levels of anxiety, higher levels of depression, and are more prone to sleeping disorders (Fekkes, Pijpers, and Vanhorick, 2004).
****This information was provided by The Texas School Safety Center Website ****