Brandon Bitner was a freshman honor student at Midd-West High School from Middleburg, PA. Brandon was an accomplished violinist. In school he found the ability to express his interest as we as he by wearing black clothing and eyeliner. School was also his biggest torment. On November 9th, 2010 Brandon took his own life by stepping in front of a moving tractor trailer, as the result of constant bullying. In his suicide note that he left on his computer, said he felt powerless and could not endure another four years of being called “faggot” and “sissy”. Brenckle, 2010) Four more students across America commit suicide, Seth Walsh, 13, Asher Brown, 13, Billy Lucas, 15, and Tyler Clementi, 18, all in the month of September from being bullied. (Drexler, 2010)
Even though not every victim of bullying results in suicide, it has to stop. I have had two friends commit suicide from the years of bullying they endured while in school. Bullying has not only led to an increase in teen suicides, an increase in school violence and shootings, it also has long lasting emotional and psychological effects beyond school. This not only has to change, it can change. No child should ever have to live in fear while trying to learn. This will not be an overnight fix, yet teachers, staff and lawmakers need to be proactive with anti-bullying and not reactive to something that has already happened and happening.
The purpose of this proposal is to show readers that bullying is a serious problem and not just kids being kids. The problems are due to bullying from a victim to the bully, and the long lasting effects emotional and psychological if something is not done to prevent it from happening, and by implementing practices that promote social justice and equity in schools, will instill a level playing field for every student. One city in Missouri went even further to prevent bullying off school grounds, where schools say they have no jurisdiction. They took their fight in front of Johnson County city board and got a city ordinance. One the most successful anti-bullying programs now has reduced bullying significantly. This will include several sources for credibility to my proposal. Adams, F. D. (2011), Jacobson, R. B. (2010), Kalman, I. C. (2013),
Every time a child is bullied everyone is affected, particularly the students that may suffer headaches, stomach pains and even sleeping problems. They may develop a fear of going to school, going to the bathroom, and riding the bus. It is possible they could lose interest in school by having trouble concentrating or perform poorly academically. The impact on the bullies can range from frequent fights; developing a habit for stealing and vandalizing property, to drinking and doing drugs, which could lead to depression and low self-esteem. Students that witness bullying, the bystanders, may feel a sense of guilt by not acting in a responsible manner, or if they do might be a target for bullying themselves. This impact will also affect the school itself, there could be a sense of fear throughout the school and give the students a sense that teachers have the inability to control students and feel they do not care what happens.
Bullying has been a problem since the age of time. One of the most memorable examples of this is in the book “Oliver Twist” written by Charles Dickens and published in 1838. This is one of the first examples written in the English language focusing on bullying and mistreatment of a child. Prior to the 1970’s bullying was not really considered a major problem or recognized until Swedish researcher by the name of Dan Olweus a professor in psychology at the University of Bergen in Norway conducted the first large scale study on bullying with school aged children and found that it was a growing problem. Olweus’s findings were published as a book in 1973. Later on his book was published again in 1978 in the United States titled “Aggression in the schools: Bullies and Whipping Boys” (Carpenter & Ferguson, n.d.) During the 1980’s Olweus implemented the first intervention that showed positive effects of his “Bullying Prevention Program”. In 1993 he also wrote “Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do”, Olweus is considered the world’s leading authority on bullying behavior (Carpenter & Ferguson, n.d.)
There are many reasons why some schools and staff are not doing enough to prevent bullying, or simply ignore it completely. One school in Florida was ignoring bullying was it would affect their financial standing. Out of 10 fights on campus only two were reported. Others were downgraded to horseplay. By not having any serious discipline problems, the school was awarded 200,000 by the state of Florida. (Golgowski, 2014,) Recent studies have shown bullying is missed by adults 96% of the time. Teachers are mostly focused on what goes on in the classroom, and bullying happens in the locker rooms, lunchroom, and on the playground. (Whitson, 2012)
Exposure to bullying impacts a child’s physical and mental health in many ways. One who is bullied tends to show more anxiety then others. They also suffer from depression and are at higher risk for suicide. Studies have shown a 70% greater depression in children that had been bullied. In a cross country study of 2700 students from ages 9-12 showed a high risk for psychosomatic symptoms along with depression. In a study of 276 adult members of the British Stammering Association concerning school experiences related to bullying and its long-term effects, Hugh-Jones and Smith (1999) found that the majority of respondents had experienced bullying at school. Of those who were bullied, the majority reported immediate negative effects and 46% reported undesirable long-term effects. (Ttofi & Farrington, 2008) Indirect bullying (spreading rumors or not talking to someone on purpose) does significantly predict anxiety and depression, as well as withdrawn behaviors. The negative impact of victimization and bullying is buffered by youngsters’ positive relationship with one or both parents. (Baldry, 2004)
“They call me a terrorist because I’m a Muslim. I’ve lost my temper a couple of times, which frustrates me because I end up getting into trouble. Some of my friends stand up for me but it isn’t enough. I want the teachers to do something, but they always tell me they’re really busy” (from a teenager’s statement to ChildLine). (Terren, 2014)
The best way to stop bullying in schools is to stop the problem in the beginning before it starts. This can be done by educating and training the staff on early signs of bullying. Teachers need to educate students on social acceptance and project a more positive atmosphere. Next the school districts need to implement an off school grounds bullying ordinance to protect victims of bullying off school grounds where schools normally do not have jurisdiction to deal with bullying. Parents need to talk to their children if their child is being labeled as a bully, find out why he or she is bullying, find how they are feeling about themselves, if they are being bullied by someone else, or if their friends are bullying. Children learn different subjects from books, what also needs to be taught are empathy, respect, and compassion. Bullying children lack the awareness of how the children they are bullying feel.
Parents need to make expectations clear and make them aware that bullying will not be tolerated. Take immediate action if you find out your child has been involved in an incident. One has to provide consequences for bullying and be specific to what will happen. Model behavior has been a proven fact, teach our children by example. We have to encourage a level playing field for all children involved. Role playing by conducting certain bullying situations and have your child play both the bully and the victim and that way they will understand how it feels from both perspectives. When your child handles a situation well, provide positive feedback. This will not happen overnight, will take time, especially now that your child is dealing with new feelings and conflict; make your love and support visible to them. (Center, 2005)
That is why The Final Countdown is the solution to conquer the bullying epidemic. These plans will finally countdown the days till bullying will no longer be in our schools and our children will be going back to school and willing to go back and achieve the success we all want for our children. These children are our future congressman, teachers, doctors, scientist, and presidents. The Final Countdown plan will be successful since schools and parents are trying to let the current anti-bullying programs take care of it and not involving themselves in a child’s life unless something happens first. A proactive approach is definitely the answer to reactive, something that has already happen. You simply cannot stop something that has passed. This will show the kids someone really does care and we are here for them, children want and need to be needed, that is how GOD made us. This plan will educate everyone from teachers, administration, political officials, parents, and children. This will allow everyone to work together and be on the same page. Putting up and relying on cameras to prevent bullying is not working as we all know by the increase in school violence, and suicides.
One of the biggest reasons for bullying not only still going on and increasing is not having the ability to recognize bullying and having misconceptions about bullying. This plan will not only focus on protecting the victim, it’s also designed to help the bully themselves. One thing to teach the parents and schools staff is to understand the truth about bullying. For a child to walk away from a bully, by ignoring them demonstrates they do not have control over you. A bully looks for someone they can control. There are very few things in life that we have control over and one of them is behavior in other people. Yet one can focus on the way they choose to react to bullying. Things that can be taught to an already or possible bully is, show them the positive and reflect on things that one might appreciate in life.
Teachers can express to our children to share their feelings and provide to them that opportunity to talk to a counselor, coach or anyone they feel trusted with. Expressing how one feels will make a huge difference to how they feel. Some of the myths about bullying to understand are for one, all kids make mistakes and that is a part of life. Parents that do not feel their child is capable of being hurtful just make it harder for bullied to get the help they need (Help Guide, n.d.). One of the reasons for bullying signs are so hard to see is most bullying occurs in places where adults are not present. Example: in hallways or off school grounds. Victims will often try to cover any evidence of being bullied due to the shame that comes along with being victimized.
There was a day when a child could just walk a different route home or an alternate route to class. With the internet that is not the case. Once a child is targeted there is not getting away. So by still using the old rules to try and fix this is not going to work, we have an opportunity with all the research and data on bullying and means to communicate it, our children should feel safe at home and school. By taking this information and educating the officials and students, these principals will give teachers and parents an edge on bullying and stomp it out. (Sullo, 2010) The current policies are simply not working and we can see that by the increase in school violence and school shootings.
A stack of papers with a set of principles are useless if they are not implemented, and to try and use them to deter what has already happen is not good, this is not getting to the root of bullying and trying to understand what and why this is happening to our children. This plan would best succeed if implemented at the elementary level this is critical stage in a child’s life. A major key to this is the education of conflict resolution, by staff educating our children this can provide children a way to express their feelings and solve a conflict. This can teach our children to control their behavior while generating and coming up with solutions to a conflict. (Rust & Rieman, n.d.)
This map shows how high the risk is for bullies who I’m reminded of a guy from my high school who bullied just about everyone he could. The guy’s several years into a 1-year sentence on drug & and weapon charges, with his sentence enhanced under the state “persistent offender” law. This also shows the risk of physical or sexual abuse that can result from bullying. So let’s ask ourselves, is this our child? What can we do to prevent this? Well my plan is the answer to not only preventing this from happening to your child, but to any child that is considering on bullying someone. There is where we as parents and staff need to step in and prevent before it’s too late.
Coaches, teachers, and administrator since time eternal issue the school 11th school commandment, “Thou shall not bully,” but this top-down approach has not changed the actions or the hearts of students. However, using the current curriculum as a tool to teach against bullying not only raises awareness but causes the students to become proactive and protect themselves and others against this destructive action. Those statistics below do not represent numbers but the faces teachers see every day in their classrooms.
This is the time to implement “The Final Countdown” plan and take control of the wide spread bullying issue. You have all seen the long lasting effects of what will come out of this and a substantial increase in school violence and teen suicide. This has to stop now and taking these steps and implementing them not online our schools but our lives and children’s lives.
dams, F. D. (2011). Bullying victims: The effects last into college. American Secondary Education, 40(1), 4-13. Baldry, A. C. (2004) The impact of direct and indirect bullying on the mental and physical health of Italian youngsters. Aggressive Behavior, 30(5), 343-355. Carpenter, D. & Ferguson, C. J. (n.d.) History of bullying: Retrieved from Netplaces website: http://www.noodletools.com/noodlebib/cite.php?ADD=Web%20Site Center, P. (Ed.). (2005, October). What if your child is the bully. Retrieved from Pacer website: http://www.pacer.org/parent/php/PHP-c109.pdf Drexler, L. (2010, October 30). Teen bullying is not just ‘kidding around’ The Patriot-News. Golgowski, N. (2014, September 24). Staff at Florida school where bullied boy shot himself was told to ignore trouble students: letter. Daily News, news. HelpGuide. (n.d.). Dealing with bullying. Retrieved from HelpGuide website: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/dealing-with-bullying.htm Rust, J., & Rieman, J. (n.d.). Stop bullying me:! Preventing bullying before it begins. Prevention Bullying Before It Begins. Sullo, B. (2010) Getting to the roots of bullying. Virginia Journal of Education. Terren, N. C. (2014, July 27) Racist victimization in schools in the United Kingdom. The Prisma. Ttofi, M. M., & Farrington, D. P. (2008), Bullying: Short-term and long-term effects, and the importance of defiance theory in explanation and prevention. Victims and Offenders, 3, 289-312.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15564880802143397 Whitson, S. (2012, March 26). What parents can do when bullying is downplayed at school. The Huffington Post, The Blog.