JFS Perspectives

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Bullying in the Schools

According to the National Association of School Psychologists, more than 160,000 students miss school each day due to fears of being bullied. Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. It can threaten students’ physical and emotional safety at school and can negatively impact their ability to learn.

Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience:

  • Increased feelings of sadness and loneliness
  • Changes in sleep and eating patterns
  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Health complaints
  • Decreased academic achievement
  • Missing, skipping, or dropping out of school

Kids who bully others are more likely to:

  • Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults
  • Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school
  • Engage in early sexual activity
  • Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults

Kids who witness bullying (bystanders) are more likely to:

  • Use tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs
  • Have increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
  • Miss or skip school

Parents, school staff, and other caring adults have an important role to play in preventing bullying. They can:

  • Help kids understand bullying. Talk about what bullying is and how to stand up to it safely. Tell kids that bullying is unacceptable and make sure students know how to get help.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with kids often, listen to them, know their friends, ask about school, and understand their concerns.
  • Encourage kids to do what they love. Special activities, interests, and hobbies can boost confidence, help kids make friends, and protect them from bullying behavior.
  • Model how to treat others with kindness and respect.

Whether your child is a bully, victim, or bystander, you should expect school administrators, teachers, and staff to take bullying problems seriously and enforce written school policies and rules against bullying, harassment, and intimidation.