Bullying 101: Are America’s schools willing to help our children?

By Marnie Ayers
Bullying 101: do schools really know how to help our children? If all schools are like the middle school I recently worked at, I would have to say a resounding, “no!” As a certified teacher, and having been a victim of bullying and harassment myself as a student in Illinois, I have personally experienced the lack of concern and willingness of teachers and administration to advocate for students and ensure their safety in school.

I have witnessed first hand the perpetuation and revictimization of bullied and harassed students by teachers who themselves make demeaning comments about these target students behind closed classroom doors. Parents must be aware of the harsh reality in some schools today and parents must know that teachers do not always advocate for the rights of children…period.

Parents…to get (and stay) involved in your child’s school experience, always ask questions and gain insight into their peer relationships. Know that it is OK to ask questions of teachers and administration at your child’s school and never settle for the issue not being resolved swiftly; your child’s well-being, school success and safety depend on it. If your child informs you that other students at school are humiliating him or making threats, please take action! Don’t wait until it’s too late. Be aware of the following warning signs that your child may be a victim of bullying and harassment: Full story.

School bullying out of control, say British Columbia parents

Squamish — Parents of bullied children and victims themselves have expressed both anger and hope on the newly formed Facebook group “Bully Free Howe Sound.”

“I am so happy this group is here because I felt rather alone,” wrote the mother of one bullied boy, who has a mild form of autism. “Haven’t any of the incidents in schools such as Columbine shown that bullying has to stop? There should be a no tolerance policy in place and used to its fullest extent.”

Bianca Peters formed the group three weeks ago — 10 months after her son began experiencing harassment and assaults at his school. Peters said she was at her wit’s end because her son’s school and the school district were ineffective in dealing with the bullying.

“It began with one child telling my son to go kill himself at the beginning of the year and ended with him being beaten up by another boy while on a school sponsored trip at the end of the year. The events during the in between months have been overwhelming,” states Peters on the website.

She said she was livid when a year-end report card alluded to her son’s responsibility in his own victimization, describing her son in a way she says she’d never heard of before. Full story.

Opinion: Teacher sees bullying at preschool level

By Syreeta Springer
I know it’s hard to imagine that children as young as three, four, and five years old as bullies or being bullied. But it does happen. If children ages 10 and 11 are committing suicide (as discussed this morning due to bullying; then that leaves the question, at what age does bullying begin? We want to believe that bullying usually occurs during middle school age when hormones are kicking in and the pressure to belong is great.

However, as a preschool teacher, I have seen peer pressure in preschool. I have also witnessed bullying. Bullying is described as being repeated actions used to intentionally hurt another. Some instances of bullying in preschool is incessant name calling; constant physical attacks (i.e. hitting, kicking, pushing) or threatening to harm another (i.e. a child who pounds his fist into an open palm as he stares fiercely at the other child); and excluding someone from the group. To combat the problem of bullying in schools, New Jersey adopted a law (in 2002) which requires school districts (such as Newark) to establish a policy banning bullying and includes consequences. Research shows that schools can slash bullying by 50% when incorporating a comprehensive bullying prevention program. Schools as a whole are definitely trying to do their part. Full story.

Seven Blunts: Teachers at fault for bullying in schools

See Seven Blunts video commentary

Study: Prevalence of teachers who bully students in schools

Stuart W. Twemlow, M.D.
Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., F.B.A.

American Journal of Psychiatry
Objective: This study looked for a relationship between the prevalence of teachers who bully students and school behavioral problems reflected in suspensions from school.

Method: A convenience sample of 214 teachers answered an anonymous questionnaire about their perceptions of teachers who bully students and their own practices. Teachers were grouped into whether they taught at schools with low, medium, or high rates of suspensions. Analyses of variance were used to analyze continuous variables, and chi-square statistics were used to study categorical variables.

Results: Teachers from schools with high rates of suspensions reported that they themselves bullied more students, had experienced more bullying when they were students, had worked with more bullying teachers over the past 3 years, and had seen more bullying teachers over the past year.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that teachers who bully students may have some role in the etiology of behavioral problems in schoolchildren. Full story.