100 word reply with references
Bullying is one of those topics that everyone knows about but many avoid discussing. In my childhood, bullies were to be dealt with. My dad’s philosophy was based on the idea of strength. “If you don’t stand up for yourself, then you will get it when you get home” (Dad, 1980s). I was not the type to fight, however. Once a girl hit me in the face, and I stood up and then started thinking; my mind captured the room and all the prying eyes. If I had reacted, I would have hit her back, but my thoughts kept me from doing so. Being we were in a computer lab, if we had scuffled, it was possible that computers would have been knocked over. In hindsight, I am not sure if that was a good reaction or not. I would have gotten in trouble for destroying property and fighting if I had reacted, but my pride was dealt a huge blow as my peers laughed at me and called me weak. I was picked on relentlessly throughout my k-8 years, but when I got to high school the playing field leveled out. I was taller and must have looked intimidating, for overall no one messed with me. Nevertheless, those early years left a mark on my self-esteem.
Bullying is dangerous. Many kids these days turn to suicide and parents are often powerless. We don’t always know what is happening in our children’s school life. The only way we know is if they tell us. Teenagers tend to be tight lipped. Kids as young as 6 are contemplating suicide these days. I didn’t even know that word suicide until much older. It is so sad that the situation has deteriorated to that extent.
Jones and Jones (2016) discussed certain strategies for improving peer relationships, which include:
Creating a positive teacher-student relationship; developing positive, supportive peer relationships; and conducting a functional assessment to determine problem factors that may be causing the problem, responding to these issues, and teaching the bully new skills for meeting his or her needs. (p. 126).
These strategies are not a guaranteed way to end bullying, but they would definitely be a giant step forward.
Creating positive teacher-student relationships is not always on the mind of a teacher. It can be difficult to imagine getting to personally know 25+ students, let alone bond with them. Nevertheless, it is imperative. Positive STRs (student teacher relationships) are absolutely essential to good classroom management and student academic success. According to Krane, Nessa, Holter-Sorensena, Karlssona and Binder (2017), “Positive relationships between adolescents and adults are the single most important ingredient in the promotion of positive youth development” (p. 377). The children need positive role models and teachers can be that symbol. It is worth the effort and the benefits are significant.
Developing positive and supportive peer relationships is another effective way to decrease bullying and its effects. Jones and Jones (2016) state, “Students often do not realize the power positive or negative comments have on how effectively students learn in a classroom” (p. 106). Teachers have to show and teach empathy. Allowing students to work together, will increase motivation and help them get to know each other. Things like classroom arrangement, class spirit, class pet, class history, etc., can help foster peer relationships (Jones & Jones, 2016, pp. 107-108). There are many ways to accomplish this task. This is an area where teacher creativity comes into play.
Functional assessments to help determine the cause, and how to respond to student bullying, are not often necessary. “Students occasionally need highly structured programs to help them change specific behaviors” (Jones & Jones, 2016, p. 349). These functional assessments help provide a clearer understanding from the child’s perspective. Teachers often assess four components: “an assessment of the classroom factors impacting student’s behavior; the development of a behavior change plan; the implementation of this plan; the ongoing monitoring and adjustment of this plan” (Jones & Jones, 2016, p. 353). Hopefully, gaining this perspective will give teachers an idea of how to help students make improvements. Sometimes, it can be a simple as the student is bored or overly stimulated causing aggressive tendencies. There is always hope that behaviors will improve.
Bullying is unacceptable. There is no good excuse for it. Fortunately, steps can be taken to help foster positive relationships. For those being bullied, there is hope in God. Scripture says:
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt. 5:11-12, NASB).
Bullying has had a lasting impact on me. I think it is a horrible thing to do. Unfortunately, many in power seem to forget this and use bullying tactics regularly. Nevertheless, we have to rise above and teach our children to build relationships not tear them apart.
Jones, V. F., & Jones, L. S. (2016). Comprehensive classroom management: Creating communities of support and solving problems (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Krane, V., Ness, O., Holter-Sorensen, N., Karlsson, B., & Binder, P. (2016). ‘You notice that there is something positive about going to school’: how teachers’ kindness can promote positive teacher–student relationships in upper secondary school. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 22(4), 377-389. doi:10.1080/02673843.2016.1202843