Bullying in schools is a widespread problem in different countries; this paper will draw from sources other than ones in the United States in exploring the effects of bullying as well as possible acts of intervention/prevention on the part of school staff. There is no doubt that bullying adversely affects the quality of education and learning, not only on the part of bully and victim but also on the parts of the bystanders California Dept. Of Education, 2003, p. 13).
Studies indicate that the target of a bully may exhibit attendance problems, social withdrawal from classmates, family and friends and experience emotional frustration. The target can also focus too much on avoidance of the bully and less on schoolwork, affecting academic performance. On the part of the bully, studies reported by the California Department Of Education (p. 13) reveal that there is a greater risk of lower attendance and dropping out of school, in addition to progressing to criminal behavior as an adult.
An Australian study reports that symptoms of the bullying target may exhibit the following behaviors regarding school: “unwillingness to go to school, withdrawal from peer group, truancy/misbehaviour, requesting changes in transport, decline in work standards or output” (State Of Victoria Department Of Education and Training, 2000 – 2003). The statistics of bullying vary but remain within the 15% – 30% range of occurrences across the board in terms of both bullies and victims being observed or reported. Many incidents go unreported due to the victim’s fear of being labeled a “Tattle-tale” or “Chicken” or worse by peers.
While the definition of bullying is very broad and ranges from verbal to physical or sexual assault, much of it is insidious and therefore undetected by school staff and teachers (Ted Feinberg, 2003). The solutions to bullying are wide and varied, depending upon the country. In the United States, Dr. Ted Feinberg suggests an idealistic protocol for prevention of bullying in schools, but this is assuming that school staff has more authority and power than perhaps they really do. Dr. Feinberg’s suggestions include: • Involvement of entire school community • Communication with other schools in the district • Assessment of the problem
• Development of a code of conduct • Enforce consequences for bullying While these are effective tools, putting them into practice with an already overwhelmed government school system is likely to be difficult to achieve. Nevertheless, school staff needs to be alert to changes in students’ behavior and have administrative and parental support to implement intervention. In the culturally diverse society of the United States, this is not easy to attain. The Child and Youth Health website from Australia (May 2005) suggests that parents of bullied children work with the school principal and teacher consistently until the problem is resolved.
In reality, few parents have the time to pursue these incidents due to demanding work schedules on the part of both parents. The problem of bullying is likely to persist and if Feinberg’s list of bullying intervention/prevention could be implemented and prevention could start early with a cohesive plan across government schools, the problem could be greatly reduced.
Bullying. Child and Youth Health website (May 2005). |Online|, retrieved 30 December 2005 at: http://www.cde.ca.gov/