Stopping Bullying in Our Schools

Everyone in school has concerns about bullying and violence. Bullying is not a rite of passage or part of the competitive spirit, as it was once thought. It is a serious problem in our schools and neighborhoods. Bullies often have emotional problems, histories of trauma, and inadequate problem solving and social skills. Bullying is their self-defense mechanism to protect their insecurity.

Bullying is not something someone will grow out of without assistance and guidance from wise and caring adults.

Bullies look for children who are quiet, shy, timid, or unsure of themselves. They will pick out easy targets that are less likely to fight back. Victims of bullies can be severely harmed by the experience, especially if it is chronic.

Victims of bullying often need the help of an adult to put an end to the behavior.

Bullies do not usually stop until someone bigger and more powerful steps in, such as a teacher or parent. However, to avoid more bullying, as an aftermath, adults must obtain therapy, skill building, conflict resolution, and monitoring for the perpetrator(s). The victim(s) may need counseling also. Anti-bullying programs can teach a whole school about good social skills, respect for others, and bullying prevention.

To stop bullying, we need to change everyone’s attitudes and behavior. Children need to learn to respect everyone, including those who are different or vulnerable. This involves changing the atmosphere of the school and having good role models. Schools need to publicly reinforce good skills and behaviors, as well as providing solutions to change irresponsible behavior. School-based mental health services involve having mental health professionals located in the school building so they can see the problems, attend to a crisis, provide therapy, and consult with teachers and administrative personnel. There is extensive research to indicate that school based mental health services benefit mental health and reduce behavioral problems.

Finally, teachers and administrators cannot do this job alone. Parents must be involved in the process of supporting the elimination of bullying in schools. Parent education and counseling may be needed to change the attitudes toward bullying and eliminate abuse, neglect, and domestic violence at home, which may be contributing to the child’s bullying behavior at school.There are many things that can be done to reduce bullying behavior in schools. It takes awareness, commitment, a coalition of parents, teachers, and administrators, and a lot of work to make and implement a plan.

Written by: Dr. Kathryn Seifert

To read more articles visit my Psychology Today Blog “Stop the Cycle”.

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