By Sharene Aki
Instructor Danny Wyatt
Leeward Community College-Wai’anae
[Note from the instructor: The assignment was for students to write a research paper using their three previous essays as a basis. The topic is “Bullying,” and it started with a video on bullying I showed to the class. They then wrote a cause/effect essay concentrating on the effects of bullying. The second essay was to examine why people (kids) bully one another — looking at the process that kids go through when they become bullies. The final paper was a persuasive essay on what should be done to address this issue: put all three together, cite them, develop the cited idea, and “voila” they have a research paper (more or less). -Danny Wyatt]
Bullying is one of the biggest problems in today’s society. Bullying is picking on somebody over a period of time. It starts with negative remarks and teasing, but it may get worse. It is hard to believe, but bullying starts early on the elementary school playgrounds. Bullying starts off in several ways and victims react differently depending on where they are or who they are around. Author Anna Baldry shares in the article, “Bullying among Italian Middle School Students,” that 30.1% of students are bullied due to cultural, social, and family issues (Sage). Bullying can lead to violence when a student is getting abused at home, has low self-esteem, or if the bully is seeking attention.
Furthermore, bullying is also a serious problem with long-lasting effects that can be the root cause of criminal behavior, academic failure, and lack of self-esteem later in life. Sometimes when people try to stop bullying from occurring, the situation does not change. For example, Todd was getting chased and ice was being thrown at him while walking home after school. Todd’s parents talked to the school principal who told them that she was going to wait and see what the police were going to do about the situation. Todd’s parents waited for an officer to take their complaint. Six years after the event occurred, Todd’s bullies were still free from punishment. Despite their Zero Tolerance policy against bullying, the school did nothing to help the child. The school does not take bullying seriously. More should have been done not only to punish the child but to prevent the troublemaking from occurring in the first place. By addressing the issue of bullying and the challenges that children face, solutions can be created that will decrease the problem.
Many become bullies because of their violent background. “Because it’s common for children to emulate behaviors and actions that occur in the home, parents who engage in bully-like behavior with children will likely produce children who repeat such behaviors with others” (Hatter). Due to abuse at home, children think it is alright to abuse others, which lead to violence. For example, if a child gets hit or shoved at home, they will think they can do it to others because it is done to them. Since some parents abuse their kids, most kids will go and abuse other children, turning that child into a bully. Those kids will not know how to treat other kids unless they are taught what is right and how to treat others by their parents.
The second reason many become bullies is because of low self-esteem. This leads to bullying because children with low self-esteem pick on others to make themselves feel better. For instance, Billy felt he was a nobody and that no one liked him causing him to have a low self-esteem. He picked on other kids at school and pushed them around to feel like a somebody. By doing this, he made himself feel better but also turned himself into a bully. One solution to this problem is that people with low self-esteem can talk to an adult and get advice on how to make themselves feel better. They can also talk to other students and make friends.
Lastly, many children become bullies because they seek attention. Seeking attention leads to bullying because the person continuously picks on other to get attention and social interaction. For example, Kai is a smart and quiet kid who minds his own business, and Ken is a loner who wants attention. Ken picks on Kai by telling him that he’s an ugly geek and pushes him down. As a result, Ken then receives attention from other students that think what he does to Kai is cool. Since Ken is looked up to, the other students become his friends. There are better ways to get attention and make friends, such helping peers, being nice, and respecting others. Students should learn to be cool, calm, and respectful when making friends.
On the other hand, many get bullied for a variety of reasons, including speaking differently. The first reason that makes children different is their language. Children from different cultures tend to speak different languages. Hawaiians have a different dialect from Africans. If an African child moves to Hawaii, for example, other students would recognize his strong accent. His language would sound funny to the other students. Kwaku, a boy from Africa, was discussing his weekend experience with a friend. Kona overheard the conversation and teased Kwaku about his accent. Instead of teasing other people’s languages and accents, children should be taught to be respectful and understanding because each culture in unique.
A second reason many children get bullied is because of skin color. Not everyone has the same color of skin; some are darker or lighter than others. Asians have white skin and Micronesians are a tanned color. Children will get pushed away from others and will be left alone because their skin is a different color than the group. For instance, Kenshin was a white skinned geek who hung out under the tree during recess, and Kodaro was a tall tanned boy who hung out with a group of other tanned friends in the lobby. While Kenshin walked through the lobby to go to class, Kodaro told him, “Get back on the field and get some color because you’re too white and lighter than I am”. Kenshin felt sad and cried as he walked. Everyone is human, despite their differences. Skin color should not separate someone from the rest of society; everyone should be treated equal.
The last reason why children get bullied is because of a physical disorder. A student might wear glasses, be in a wheelchair, or have a cleft. People might be too shy or ashamed to hang out with a student who has a disorder and not talk to them. According to the movie, “Bully,” Alex was a shy innocent boy who wore glasses and had Asperger’s syndrome. Alex got bullied at school by getting called names. His bullies would put him in pain, strangle him, take his belongings, and hit him. Seeking revenge, Alex wanted to become a bully himself. Instead of wanting to become a bully, Alex should have talk to the school personal on help to try and stop his bullies from hurting him. By seeking help, the bully will be punished or suspended from school.
Bullying affects children in several ways, and sometimes, they are too afraid to tell an adult. Some kids bottle up their emotions. They tend to keep problems to themselves and don’t talk to anyone about the situation. They become embarrassed and ashamed because they are getting picked on and bullied. As seen in a documentary, in school during physical education, a boy was in the locker room shower and other kids decided to take his clothes. He was forced to come out the of shower room with no clothes. Due to this tragedy, he was too ashamed to tell an adult about it or share the experience with his friends. He stopped attending school so he wouldn’t get teased (“Bully”). When a bully knows that he is not in trouble, he continues to bully. This is an example of how bullying continues. Most of them do not get caught, so the problem does not get solved and bullying continues.
There are a number of effects that come with teenage bullying. First of all there are physical problems and injuries that can result from bullying. However, emotional, verbal, and cyber bullying can deeply affect teens as well. Bully can lead to depression, suicide, or drug use. Physical bullying is more common among boys; teenage girls get more of the verbal and emotional bullying. Boys report that they get into fights, and girls report that they get called nasty names or are involved in sexual gossip. According to statistics from Family First Aid, about 30 percent of teenagers in the U.S. have been involved in bullying, either as a bully or as a victim of teenage bullying. Young teens are more used to the physical bullying, which is easier to identify; and the older teens are more used to bullying that are not easy to identify such as gossip and name calling.
One might think that as people mature and get older in life; they would stop behaviors of their youth. Sometimes, this is not always the case. Surprisingly, adults can be bullies or bullied, just as children and teenagers can be. Statistics in the Healthy Workplace Bill, states, that bullying is a problem that has invaded the life of 37% adult Americans without invitation. The goal of an adult bully is to gain power over another person and make himself the dominant adult. They try to humiliate victims and show them who is boss. Adults also encounter workplace bullying and it can make their life quite miserable and difficult. Often, it is the least skilled worker who attacks the best and brightest workers because of the perceived threat they imagine. The bully will call the other worker a “boss’s pet” or a “geek” because he knows a lot about his job. Supervisors should be aware of bullying actions in a work place and solve the situation when it is noticed. Adults are older and should learn that they need to mature and grow out of the bully stage and set a positive example for their children or peers.
Students, who witness bullying, might also be affected. They may feel guilty for not helping or fearful that they will be the next target. Sometimes when another student sees someone getting bullied, they won’t know what to do and will be worried that if they say anything the other kids will bully them. For example, Kenny was at school and saw a boy being bullied. Other kids were around him in a circle, yelling and calling him names. Kenny did not know what to do and walked away. After seeing this boy getting bullied, Kenny did not feel that he was safe at school anymore. Students who see bullying happen may feel that they are in an unsafe environment.
A few solutions have been taken into consideration to try and address the bullying problem. It is not guaranteed that some actions taken will prevent the issue, but it could help the bullying rates to decline. Hawthorn Hills Elementary School started a program called Safe School Ambassadors. The program trains fourth and fifth grade students to recognize bullying and then use tactics to diffuse the situation. Students volunteer to meet once a week to discuss the school’s environment, and what they’re seeing. Teachers and parents participate in “family groups” with students to help teach confidence building techniques. The program has cut bullying down by 70 percent and students are trained to recognize and diffuse bullying situations (Shelton). The solution is that bully has decreased and it proves that bully can be prevented.
Furthermore, a Senate Bill was signed by Governor Jim Doyle in 2010. The bill required all Wisconsin school districts to draft an anti-bullying policy. Schools must follow the policy but have the option to seek out supplemental programs (Shelton). I think that this is a good idea to try and prevent bullying. With this bill, schools will be more aware of bullying and will know how to handle a bullying situation. It is important that all schools in the district follow this policy and not just target one school. If only a single school is targeted, the other schools won’t learn how to control bullying (Shelton).
In addition, another program that targets bullying is Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. The program is a framework for teaching pro-social behaviors. It focuses on character building. The idea is, if students know how to treat each other with respect, bullying won’t happen. This program is important because respecting each other will build friendships among students (Shelton). When students are disrespectful to each other, it will cause them to be mad at each other, and it is possible for the students to tease each other. Teasing each other will lead to fighting and physical abuse. Everyone should be a great person and have respect for others, then everyone will be happy with no problems.
A great way to help prevent bullying is by talking to children about it and teaching them how to stand up to it safely. For example, using humor and saying “stop” directly and confidently can show the bully that the child is not afraid. By talking about other options they can use like walking away, the child will learn more solutions on how to handle bullying. Parents need to encourage kids to speak to a trusted adult if they are bullied or see others being bullied. The adult can give comfort, support, and advice even if they can’t solve the problem directly. By encouraging the child to report bullying if it happens, bullying can be minimized. Most times, parents and teachers do not get involved, causing the bullying issue to continue. Therefore, these steps should be taken.
According to the article, “Prevent Bullying”, it is important for everyone in the community to work together to send a powerful message against bullying. They must launch an awareness campaign to make the objectives known to the school, parents, and community members. Establish a school safety committee or task force to plan, implement, and evaluate your school’s bullying prevention program. Also, working in the community helps prevent child bullying, especially when the community unites together as it is powerful. Community-wide strategies can help identify and support children who are bullied, redirect the behavior of children who bully, and change the attitudes of adults and youth who tolerate bullying behaviors in peer groups, schools, and communities.
Bullying can be addressed by identifying forms of bullying, which include assault, tripping, intimidation and taunting and recognizing forms of harassment such as rumor spreading, and name calling. By encouraging student witnesses to report harassment instead of thinking that bullying is entertaining and fun to watch, the bullies can be punished for their behavior. Teachers must encourage victims to report abuse and not feel embarrassed. The school administration should act on reports and keep records of any signs of bullying.
Bullying is a serious and emotional issue that is increasing in many states. People need to take this situation seriously and address the issue more often to try and help prevent the problem. Parents should have talks with their children on how to handle a bully and report actions that are placed upon them. In addition, society doesn’t always know why the bullies do what they do, and we can’t always change someone right away to make them a better person. Society can change one person at a time and show them a little of change that will show the bully they can be a better person.
Baldry, Anna. “Bullying among Italian Middle School Students.” SAGE. (2013). Web. 5 Dec 2013.
Bully: PG13 Version. Lee Hirsch. Weinstein Company Movie. 2011. Film.
Hatter, Kathryn. “Parental Abuse Linked to Bullying.” Global Post. 2013
Web. 12 Dec 2013.
“School Bullying Statistics.” Family First Aid. Web. 5 Dec 2013.
Shelton, Bonnie. “Addressing Bullying in Local Schools.” WAOW. 17 Feb 2011. Web. 5 Dec 2013.
“What is Workplace Bullying?” Healthy Workplace Bill. 2013. Web. 4 Dec 2013.