Consequences Every day approximately one hundredand sixty thousand children stay home in fear of being bullied at school.Bullying is a global epidemic. But this isn’t something that we were cluelessabout, as a human race there has been bullying since the beginning ofcivilization, in the form of fighting for food and dominance.
As the world hasgrown and accomplished many great feats, we still struggle to this day of howto effectively handle and deal with the act of bullying. Today we are facedwith the issue of ineffective policy in the legislationof states regarding their anti-bullying statutes. In “Accountability in School Responses toHarmful Incidents” by Avery Calhoun and Gail Daniels they discuss a study heldin Calgary about holding youth accountable for their actions and how theyaffect the juvenile youth, the victim, and the supporters. “Examining factorsinfluencing sentencing decisions in school shootings” by Sherzine McKenzie andJames Crosby looks at the ‘behind the scenes’ of what happened. What led to it,how it could have been prevented, and how to appoint the appropriateconsequences to the parties involved. Another article goes into the deep andresearches the anti-bullying laws that states have put up and if they areeffective, “A Content Analysis of Protective Factors Within States’Antibullying Laws” by Lori Weaver, James Brown, Daniel Weddle, and MatthewAalsma speak about the method used to create the legislation and if it had theintended results. The last source is by Peter Smith, “School Bullying” talksabout the history of the research of bullying back to the 70’s and the trendsof the ever-growing topic. Bullying is nothing new, in fact, there have been studies over it datingback to the early 1970’s.
In “School Bullying” by Peter Smith, he goes into theresearch that started the fight against bullying. The systematic study ofbullying in schools first began with a man named Olweus in Scandinavia. Hedeveloped a school-based intervention program, his first evaluation of theOlweus Bullying Prevention Program encouraged researchers and inspired the nextwave of research with reports of reduction in bullying by 50%.
In 1989 thesecond wave of research really broadened the definition of bullying to include indirectand relational bullying. Originally, only directbullying-the physical component of bullying- was apart of theconversation but when they added indirect and relational bullying to the list,it became much more difficult to identify. Today researchers have identifiedmore sub-categories of bullying such as bias bullying, identity-based bullying,or prejudice-driven bullying which referto bullying based on the grouping ofcharacteristics (rather than the individual)and include racial harassment, faith-based bullying, sexual harassment, andhomophobic bullying. With so much research and evidence about the topic, you would imagine that stateslegislation would have a clear stance on the subject. However, many states onlycover direct bullying or are not clear in their written policy on what thestates cover, leaving many schools unsure of how to deal with the manydifferent types of bullying that have come to the surface over the years.
Today most people know someone that has been, or theythemselves have been bullied. However,there wasn’t much public awareness of it until the early 2000’s, it wassomething that many people brushed under the carpet, simply telling theirchildren to “man up”, “don’t be a tattle tale”, or “fight back”. In 1999 theterm “school shooting” became a part of the American vernacular following thedevastating loss at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in 1999. In”Examining factors influencing sentencing decisions in school shootings” bySherzine McKenzie and James Crosby they talk about how the effects of bullyinghave lasting and sometimes deadly effects. Many researchers at this time foundthat there were connections between bullying and school shootings, “a recent review of 28 schoolshooting events, between 1988 and 2009, revealed that the majority ofthe perpetrators were Caucasian, had a history of depression (71%), psychiatrictreatment (57%), and violence (61%), experienced victimization throughbullying, abuse, or neglect (54%) and/perceived some form of rejection (50%), avalidation of the earlier characteristics.” (McKenzie, Crosby 38)Thisties into what they later tell us about how the perception of peer rejectionand social isolation by the shooter, rather than actual or targetedvictimization, may be an underlying motivation behind acts of mass violencelike school shootings.
Not saying that bullying causes school shootings butthat a history of peer victimization may increase the likelihood of such an actof violence in individuals who possess the other warning signs or risk factors.Only recently has there been an awareness of the changing ideas of bullyingthat influence the decision-making process and what penalties juvenile youthface regardless of a history of victimization and limited support. All of thisties into the idea of needing better anti-bullying legislation, we canhypothesis that if it was in place we could limit the number of incidents, anddecrease the harm caused by the youth on both sides. While many people stand on the sidelines and root forthe players, Avery Calhoun and Gail Daniels got into the game and researchedways that bullying affected those harmed and how to prevent it, but also how tocope with it. In “Accountability in School Responses to HarmfulIncidents” they tell us of a program in Alberta, Canada in a town calledCalgary.
“Calgary Community Conferencing” or “CCC” forshort is a program where juvenile youth that are interested in apologizing ortaking responsibility for their actions have the chance to do so. During thisprogram the victims of said harmful incident, the supporters of each person,and the juvenile youth all come together and tell their version of the eventsand how it had affected their lives. Following, there is a question period,then the juvenile youth drafts a proposal for redressing the harm, which ispresented to the victim and their supporters. Usually, the discussion iscontinued until a mutually acceptable restoration agreement is made. There arefour main goals of the CCC program, “the young person demonstratesaccountability for his/her actions, respectful relationships among participantsare established, participants experience ‘closure’ regarding the incident, andparticipants experience meaningful involvement in and commitment to repairingharms.” (Calhoun, Daniels 27) Taking accountability for actions helped allparties involved saying that the victims that participated felt that theconference helped the youth develop empathy and that the victims consistentlydescribed feeling “relieved”, “glad”, and “happy” that the juvenile youth hadtaken responsibility of the harmful event. Many of them before had convincedthemselves that what had happened was somehow their fault. One of the reasonsthis program was created was to help the youth that had made mistakes, to letthem know that the school system had failed them.
The system has failed them bynot taking accountability for what happened, but also for not having theresources available to the student that could have prevented the harmfulincident and helped them. “… a primary goal of schooldiscipline should be to keep students in rather than exclude them fromeducation… Students need to be reassured that schools will take effective, respectful re-active, and pro-activesteps to ensure a safe learning environment… student participants in a study byO’Dea and Loewan (1998) described school disciplinary actions as unlikely tohave desired consequences. Student participants in this study indicated a preference for disciplinary approaches thatplace value on respect within relationships, thorough understanding of problemsituations, hearing the perspectives of all individuals involved in a conflict,and involving parents in school disciplinary problems.” (Calhoun, Daniels 24) Thereason the author has added this information is to inform the reader that justbecause the school system says that they are doing the best thing doesn’t meanthe children-the ones that get affected by it- think that it is the best.
Bullyingmay not always be easy to pick up on, it is often subtle and covert. Parentstrust their schools to keep their children safe, but not all states communicateclearly and concisely what is expected from school officials to stop bullying.In “A Content Analysis of Protective Factors Within States’ Antibullying Laws”by Lori Weaver, James Brown, Daniel Weddle, and Matthew Aalsma dig under thesurface and look at the policy that the states have in place and if they arehelpful, or effective. The definition of bullying is an unwanted, aggressive behavior among school agedchildren that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. A researcher namedOlweus found three main criteria for the definition of bullying, there must be”aggressive behavior or intentional ‘harm doing'”, the act must be carried outrepeatedly, and there is an imbalance of power… occurring withoutapparent provocation. Bullying behaviorsare sorted into three main “categories”: verbal, physical, and relational,including cyberbullying, these three categories can be direct forms or indirectforms of bullying, so it can become difficult deciphering them. The problem isthat states need more specific anti-bullyingstatutes, the term “bullying” can encompass more subtle behaviors than thosetargeted by harassment or school safety laws, so only the statutes that mentionthe specific word bullying are purposefully written as anti-bullying legislation.
“Researchers found that although themajority of school employees reported that their district had an implementation of an anti-bullying policy (93%), only about half of all staff receivedtraining.” (Weaver, Brown, Weddle, Aalsma 160) So not only do we not have theproper guidelines in place, but how are we to know that they are even put intoaction. Only 8% of state’s laws mandate schools to provide annual training forschool employees.
“the implementation of specificyouth protections varied widely across states. Nine states identified schoolofficials as possible aggressors with the laws. Less than half of state laws(40%) require schools to have a mechanism in place for students to reportbullying and are often unclear regarding expectations for school bus drivers toreport (20%). Only 40% of states require school employees to report suspectedbullying acts.
It was found that less than half of state’s laws require schoolof?cials have an identi?ed investigator (46%). Counseling is rarely mandatedfor the bully (8%) or the victim (6%). There are limited provisions to protectvictims from additional acts of bullying (30%). The content and consistency ofparent protections varied widely across states’ anti-bullyinglaws. A limited number of states did not identify a procedure for theparent/guardian to report acts of bullying (30%). Six states have mandates that school of?cials notify parentswhen a report of bullying is made, and 12 states have mandates to contact thevictim’s and bully’s parent if a report of bullying is substantiated.” (Weaver,Brown, Weddle, Aalsma 166)Thereasons the authors bring this up is to shed light on the critical facts affecting this nation’s future.
Three stateshave no specific anti-bullyinglegislation and only 36 of the remaining 47 states have clearly stated the wordbullying in the title or subtitles of their laws. The fact is that our nationsschool systems are not prepared forbullying, and we need to take immediate steps to reassess our legislation and policies towards schoolbullying. Bullying is always changing, as we change, our technology hasadvanced, our knowledge has grown, and our laws should grow and change with us.But it hasn’t, as a nation we need to be clear on what will, and what will notbe tolerated. The teachers of our children must know how to handle these typesof situations and not be clueless. We need to recreate our policy andlegislation on bullying in the school system to make sure that we are helpingour students, not harming them. Works Cited.
…. Smith, Peter K. “SchoolBullying.” Sociologia, 71 (2013): 81-98.
Print…..McKenzie, Sherzine. Crosby, James. “Examining factors influencing sentencingdecisions in school shootings.
” Journalof aggression, conflict, and peach research, 9.1 (2017): 38-48. Print…..Calhoun, Avery. Daniels, Gail.
“Accountability in School Responses to HarmfulIncidents.” Journal of School Violence,7.4 (2008): 21-47. Print…..Weaver, Lori.
Brown, James. Weddle, Daniel. Aalsma, Matthew. “A ContentAnalysis of Protective Factors Within States’ Antibullying Laws.” Journal of School Violence, 12 (2013):156-73.