Bullying is one of the most prevalent and widely discussed topics pertaining to school safety and security. A survey from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System reported that 19.1 percent of students in Texas had been bullied on school property, and 13.8 percent of students had been electronically bullied (i.e., cyberbullied) during the 12 months before the survey.1 Students who have been bullied are at increased risk for a number of psychological and physical issues, including depression and substance use.4 Bullying has also been shown to interfere with academic and behavioral adjustment.3 Clearly, bullying has harmful effects for the school environment and is a serious concern for educators.
In recent years, cyberbullying has become increasingly prevalent among students, especially those in high school. Research indicates that cyberbullying is as common as traditional in-person bullying, and its effects are equally, if not more, harmful.6 One study linked cyberbullying with higher instances of dating violence, suicide risk, alcohol and cigarette use, and carrying weapons on school property. The study also found that students who were victimized both in-person and online were at the highest risk for these negative outcomes, particularly suicide.2 Another study revealed that 90 percent of all youth who had been victimized by cyberbullying did not tell adults.6 Cyberbullying is a relatively recent phenomenon, and while these studies provide us with a glimpse of its harmful effects, we cannot truly understand its impact on youth if they are not able to talk about it. It is imperative that we develop strategies for better communication between youth and adults around this issue.
Strong connections with parents, teachers, peers, and communities can be instrumental in reducing bullying behaviors.5 Research shows that the most successful anti-bullying programs emphasize positive school climate and use strategies based on social, emotional, and character development.7 Drawing on the knowledge and strengths of students, staff, parents, and community members will allow us to discover and implement the best bullying prevention strategies, by providing an opportunity for individuals to educate one another while working together.
A Form of Retaliation to Cyberbullying
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). (Read more…)
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Youth Online: High School YRBS Retrieved from https://nccd.cdc.gov
2Hertz, M. F., Jones, S. E., Barrios, L., David-Ferdon, C., & Holt, M. (2015). Association between bullying victimization and health risk behaviors among high school students in the United States. Journal of School Health, 85(12), 833-842.
3Feldman, M. A., Ojanen, T., Gesten, E. L., Smith-Schrandt, H., Brannick, M., Totura, C. M. W., Alexander, L., Scanga, D., & Brown, K. (2014). The effects of middle school bullying and victimization on adjustment through high school: Growth modeling of achievement, school attendance, and disciplinary trajectories. Psychology in the Schools, 51(10), 1046-1062. doi: 10.1002/pits.21799
4Klomek, A. B., Kleinman, M., Altschuler, E., Marrocco, F., Amakawa, L., & Gould, M. (2011). High school bullying as a risk for later depression and suicidality. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior. 41(5), 501-516. doi: 10.1111/j.1943-278X.2011.00046.x
5Mann, M. J., Kristjansson, A. L., Sigfusdottir, I. D., & Smith, M. L. (2015). The role of community, family, peer, and school factors in group bullying: Implications for school-based intervention. Journal of School Health, 85(7), 477-486. doi: 10.101111/josh.12270
6Schneider, S. K., O’Donnell, L., & Smith, E. (2015). Trends in cyberbullying and school bullying victimization in a regional census of high school students, 2006-2012. Journal of School Health, 85(9), 611-620. doi: 10.1111/josh.12290
7Waggoner, C. R. (2015). Cyber bullying: The public school response. Insights to a Changing World Journal, 2015(1), 2-20.