Public Policy Research Paper

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Policy Change

Anti-Bullying as a Policy Change

Students have been bullied while at school since the beginnings of education. Originally they might have been bullied by the people who taught them, but much of that does not continue into the present say. However, students bullying other students does continue. Every child needs an advocate at their school whose function it is to make sure that they are not being bullied. Many times this happens informally when a school does not have a bullying program, but it can also happen formally. The need for advocacy programs within schools, both primary and secondary, that allow children to feel that they are safe from the time that they leave their homes until they arrive back at home in the afternoon is elemental. Because of the backlash that has happened at some schools due to being bullied, it is more vital than ever. Students must have a nonviolent process that they can access when they are being bullied. Also, schools need to have programs in place in which they partner with parents to stop both physical and electronic media bullying. This paper outlines what bullying is, how the practice has been proven to cause harm to the victims, and how it can be mitigated in the school.

What is bullying?

When a teacher, counselor or administrator looks at an incident and sees it as bullying they may bring preconceived notions that are not actually correct into the situation. Children will sometimes be playing pleasantly together, but in a rough manner, and the behavior can seem like bullying. There needs to be a solid definition of what constitutes bullying to begin any conversation on starting an anti-bullying campaign.

According to Jacobsen and Bauman (2007), "for a behavior to be considered bullying, it must have three elements: It must be intended to harm, it must be repetitive, and a difference of power-physical, social, or other-must exist between the bully and the victim." The student that is conducting the bullying actions must first wish to cause some form of harm. This can be by using physical force, threats or by more subtle means. The actions that are perpetrated by the bully must occur over an extended period of time. Although, fighting may be a poor choice, it is not always bullying because it is not intimidation that has happened many times. But, the most important part of the definition is the final mention of power. There must be some disparity in the power between the two people; it can be of any type, but the bullied child must understand the void between the two to feel the effect.

There is also a question of types of bullying. Not all bullies use the same techniques because they may not have the same power difference over a student that someone else has. Therefore, it can be said that;

"Bullying is a subset of aggression that is typically categorized as physical, verbal, or relational. Physical bullying tends to receive more attention from school personnel, and this includes behaviors such as hitting, kicking, or any form of overt violence toward another student…Verbal bullying refers to name calling, teasing, and verbal threats. Relational bullying is a form of social isolation that includes behaviors such as gossiping, intentionally leaving students out of activities, spreading rumors, and other measures that seek to change peer groups. [Some researchers] described relational bullying as an "attempt to inflict pain in such a manner that he or she makes it seem as though there has been no intention to hurt at all" (Jacobsen & Bauman, 2007).

An effective school bullying program will address all of the types of bullying without stating that one type is worse than the others. Physical bullying may cause the most immediate pain, but it is soon over. Relational bullying can have long-term effects that are just beginning to be realized.

The Long and Short-Term Effects of Bullying

Bullying has immediate effects on the person who is a victim, but research has determined that the practice can have very long-term effects also. Also, the practice does not only effect the victim(s), but it can have very negative consequences for the bully also. Understanding these effects may help alleviate some of the bullying in a school.

Research has determined many effects of bullying that can be felt both immediately and for a long time afterward. According to Aluede, Adeleke, Omoike, and Afen-Akpaida, (2008) on their research into the subject children have to face the fact that they may be bullied every day, and they are prone to having some of the following effects

For the victim:

Children who are bullied are more likely to be depressed

Victims are more likely to be suicidal

As one middle-school student expressed it 'It can leave you bruised inside"

Children who are bullied have difficulty concentrating on their school work, and their academic performance tends to move from "marginal to poor."

Typically, bullied students feel anxious, and this anxiety may in turn produce a variety of physical or emotional ailments

Rates of absenteeism are higher among victimized students than rates among non-bullied peers, as are drop-out rates.

Persistent bullying during the school years may have long -- term negative effects on the victims many years beyond school.

Victims of bullies tend to be less popular in school than other students not involved in bullying.

For the victim, bullying can cause physical, academic, social and psychological problems.

The psychological scars left by bullying often endure for years. For instance, the feelings of isolation and the loss of self-esteem that victims experience seem to last into adulthood.

And, for the bully:

Bullies are more likely to carry weapons

Chronic bullies seem to maintain their behaviors into adulthood thus influencing their ability to develop and maintain positive relationships.

Bullies are seldom able to conclude friendship, they are often anti-social adults and the bullying is sometimes the first stepping stone to juvenile crime and criminal activities.

None of these effects are a given, but a child who is often absent and tends to be a loner when they are at school, needs to ring alarm bells for teachers. The signs of bullying that this list of effects gives should also be what teachers watch out for.

Effective Bullying Program

Any program started by a school has to first be well planned and researched, but it must also have the backing of the entire staff and administration. The staff are going to be the people implementing the plan and they have to both understand it and agree to it. Another group of people who have to understand an all-encompassing bullying plan is the parents and people in the community who are concerned for the students welfare. All of these groups have to be made aware of the dangers of bullying and why this particular program will work to keep children safe. With the recent rash of school bullying cases that have been seen on the news, parents and community leaders will understand and want to support a proven and well-researched plan. It is important that the plan advocate speak to the different groups in such a way that they understand what is going to take place when the plan is implemented because different groups of people understand things differently (Buck & Willer, 2008).

The first step is to explain to the different groups the three parts of a bullying encounter. The groups may understand what happens and why the students act this way toward one another, but they may not understand the basic underlying causes that are present in the growing mind. Children have little power in their adult relationships for the most part. The child does not have the physical, social or emotional power that they may crave in their relationships with adults, so they have the need to have that power on some other level. Since the bullying victim is weak in some way that is perceptible, they are an easy target for a child who is looking for someone to create the power imbalance with.

The main issue here is that the bully feels no respect for the other child because they have been taught or have gathered that this is the most important item in any relationship. If the bully cannot achieve that through other relationships, they will take it in relationships that they have with fellow students. The only way for an adult to stop the cycle that is bullying is to restore the balance of power. The teacher has to make the bully respect their victim. Researchers Hirschstein, Edstrom, Frey, Snell, and Mackenzie, (2007) found that there is one factor that is the most important in implementing any anti-bullying program: consistency of message. The authors called it "walking the talk" which means making sure that when the teachers saw any incidence of bullying or suspected some such behavior had just happened, they needed to immediately intervene.

The main aspect of the training program for children is to teach…[continue]

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