Over the last decade, awareness of the prevalence of bullying has grown significantly. Thankfully, there are quite a few dedicated anti-bullying organizations at work nationally, as well as some effective, targeted programs that have been executed in individual communities.
Bullying is everyone’s problem. It comes in many forms, and actually varies quite a bit between male and female students. Boys are more likely to hit or push one another, while girls are more likely to start rumors or ostracize each other, according to SafeYouth.org.
Targets and Consequences of Bullying
So who is most at risk to become a target of bullying? Again, according to the statistics cited by SafeYouth.org (link below), those most susceptible to bullying by their peers are those students who are more insecure, withdrawn, and cautious than their peers. These students are often more insecure to begin with, so they become easy targets for bullies because they don’t fight back.
The tragic consequence of this is that students who may already feel bad about themselves end up feeling worse because of the things bullies say. If peers join in and avoid that person, it can be even harder for them to make friends; loneliness intensifies the negative feelings of depression and low self esteem. Studies have also found that bullying has long-term consequences: even after it is stopped, years later, adults who were bullied as youth have a greater rate of depression and lower self esteem than adults who weren’t bullied.
Taking a Stand
So what can be done to stop bullying? There is no single approach that can stop bullying entirely, largely because bullies exist more prevalently in environments that allow them. Therefore, a change in the entire culture of a school is the most effective way to prevent bullying.
The most effective programs are those programs that involve everyone related to a school: students, teachers, parents, and all staff (even crossing guards and lunchroom supervisors). Educating everyone on the expectations of behavior, teaching students to stand up for those being bullied, and encouraging inclusion of students who are often left out can start turning around a school’s culture.
Reinforcement is key, which is why we have identified anti-bullying campaigns as one of the top opportunities for us to use our school folders education platform to help better the lives of students. If students are hearing the anti-bullying message from teachers and parents and being reminded to stand up and do the right thing every time they open their desk, there is a much greater chance that they will internalize this message.