Bullying Interventions at the Elementary and High School Levels

Posted: November 04, 2016

Introduction

            Many cases of bullying have been recently reported in the school districts. Bullying refers to the use of threat, coercion, and force to intimidate, dominate or aggressively abuse others in the society (Swearer, Espelage, & Napolitano, 2012). Students now bully their fellows and siblings through physical assault, harassments, and threats among others. One such student is Billy, who has been bullying other student. Other than the face-to-face bullying, the school and the society are now worried about the use of the social networking sites including Twitter and Facebook to harass, threaten, and assault fellow students and siblings, in what is referred to as cyber bullying. Cyber bullying involves the use of the social sites to harass, intimidate, or even threaten others (Kowalski, Limber, & Agatston, 2012). The topic of bullying thus needs to be understood well to develop and implement strategies that can reduce or eliminate bullying in the school.

Signs That Billy May Be Bullying Their Child

            Both parents and teachers sometimes find it challenging to identify the children who bullies and the victims of bullying as well. As a result, the majority of parents are uncertain about bullying incidents with their children. To some extent, students who bully their siblings and fellow other students could be doing so because of the exposure to the bad behaviors from other people they interact with (Beane, 2008). Billy and his victim have recently shown different signs that are behavioral changes. These signs are useful in identifying the bully and the person who is bullied.

            First, Billy has become excessively aggressive at home. He hardly sits down or stays calm and instead wants to move around, involve in several activities that he has never interested in before. The parents have also reported to the head teacher that Billy’s eating habits have changed. Unlike in the past, Billy has a high appetite and eats more. He hardly gets satisfied by the regular three meals in a day. On the other side, their child has bruises and shows a lot of worries anytime he is left with the brother at home. He hates being close to Billy and would rather do most of the things alone in the house. Bruises are good signs that parents should observe keenly to identify if their children are victims of bullying (Beane, 2008). Also, their child has become withdrawn: he does not talk more often and spend most of his time alone. Other than these behaviors, parents should try to find out if there could be something else bothering their children before jumping to conclusions.   

Causes of Bullying

            Bullying majorly results in the individual differences in antisocial behavior. A bully directs physical, psychological, or verbal aggression towards other people in order to dominate or gain power over another individual. Bullying behavior results from the multiple environmental influences including the family, school and peer group factors. These factors are responsible for the individual differences in antisocial behavior.

Family Factors

            The severity and frequency of bullying depends on the amount and level of adult supervision on the children (Rigby & Australian Council for Educational Research, 2010). Indeed, bullying behavior is usually reinforced by the consequences that are inconsistent. Also children exposed or subjected to bullying behavior by their parents and siblings are likely to develop bullying behaviors. If parents of Billy fail to take immediate actions towards correcting the situation, their child is likely to develop bullying behavior since he is a victim of bullying.

School Factors

            Children get reinforced for intimidating others due to the culture of school personnel of ignoring bullying behavior. Besides, bullying thrives in environments, in which students receive negative attention and negative feedback compared to positive school settings. Though the school management has made several attempts to stop and eliminate bullying, more needs to be done to stop the act in our schools completely. Positive school environments are likely to set high standards and foster respect for interpersonal behavior (Rigby & Australian Council for Educational Research, 2010).

Peer Group Factors       

            The more unusual bullying behavior in the school is significantly attributed to the interactions between the children and the neighborhood peer group or school that advocates, promotes, or supports bullying behavior. As a result, many students bully their peers in order to fit in the society. This may be the case even though one may not be comfortable with the bullying behavior.

Bullying In the Elementary School and High School

            Bullying at high school level is more severe than elementary school bullying. However, high school bullying receives less attention (Swearer, Espelage, & Napolitano, 2012). At high school level, students have been exposed to various forms of bullying including cyber bullying, and the most common form of bullying is harassment. At this level of education, female students experience more sexual harassment compared to the male counterparts (Swearer, Espelage, & Napolitano, 2012). Billy is more likely to use various social network sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, to harass and threaten his fellow students. At the elementary level, the Billy will not be immune to bullying, but rather tend to shift the roles of victim or bully (Swearer, Espelage, & Napolitano, 2012). Billy is most likely to call other names and beat other students. However, at both levels, bullying will involve behaviors that bring harm and discomfort to the victims. Also, if Billy develops the bullying behavior at the elementary level, he is likely to end up with similar behavior in high school.

Bullying Interventions

            School districts can develop and implement effective programs towards controlling and stopping people such as Billy from bullying both at the elementary and secondary levels. Specifically, the most effective interventions will be those that improve the social skills at different levels. Research advocate for the prevention programs favorable or positive community and school climate.

            One such strategy is the provision of early intervention. The school districts should come up with social skill training at the early ages of the students both in the classroom and even back at home. The training should incorporate systematic aggression and counseling interventions for students such as Billy, who exhibit bullying, or even the victims such as Billy’s sibling (Rigby & Australian Council for Educational Research, 2010). Another approach will be to support the parents to teach children the good social skills. With the help of school psychologists, counselors, and social workers, parents learn to reinforce the children’s positive behavior patterns and even model the children towards practicing appropriate interpersonal interactions.

            Apart from the school districts, the community and the school personnel can work together towards reducing or eradicating the vice in the society. For instance, school personnel can use alternatives such as additional chores or removal of privileges instead of the physical punishment. Also, the community and the school personnel can help students foster positive social activities and relationships. For instance, suggesting the children some of the things they should do such as going to the movie will help the children in identifying peers they can get along with well.   

            Engaging and building bridges between the parents of the bullies and the parents of the victims can be also effective in removing the vice from our midst. Coming up with a platform where parents of students meet more often to discuss the various behavioral changes among their children will help in identifying the bullying behavior. Gender-related to bullying has implications in the manner bullying is perceived in the society. Research shows that boys engage in or get exposed to bullying acts more often than girls (Catalano, Junger-tas, & Morita et al., 2014). Consequently, girls are more likely to be the victims of bullying in the society. However, the difference decreases when indirect aggressions such as verbal threats are taken into consideration. Verbal threats are common among girls.

Conclusion

            Overall, many schools experience bullying due to the school cultures and systems that ignore bullying behavior among students. As a result, many students are subjected to the harsh treatments from their fellow students and in turn, develop similar practices. The interactions of the students at school and the individual differences among the students are features that continue to accelerate the situation. The duty to reduce or eliminate bullying behavior should however not be left to the teachers only. Instead, the parents and the community should work together towards developing and implementing effective strategies that would eliminate the vice. 

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