Is School Bullying Really Declining? A Recent Study Shows It Is
Is School Bullying Really Declining? - A Recent Study Shows It Is
As recently as 2005, 30 percent of students reported an involvement in bullying. Fortunately, this number has dramatically reduced. Let’s take a look at how schools cut down on this behavior and what you can do to help end bullying in your classroom.
Bullying in the 21st Century
For students, parents, and teachers alike, bullying is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to social interactions in school. The standard school day is already challenging enough, but when students also need to worry about being harassed and tormented by their peers, it becomes near unbearable.
Bullying became a primary public health concern in the early 2000s when a study of more than 15,000 students discovered that almost 30 percent of all students grades 6-10 were involved in bullying, a staggeringly high number.
How Are Schools Preventing Bullying?
Even more troubling than the high percentage of victims was the lack of structure in place to stop such behavior. The study further stated that despite the serious problems that bullying poses and the pressing need to stop it, little was being done to curb this behavior in or out of the classroom. At the time of the study’s release, the federal government did not monitor bullying statistics and did not even start until 2005.
Fortunately, the troubling results of the survey seem to have raised awareness and spurred change concerning bullying at school. Multiple parents have noticed improved anti-bully efforts, including Frank Watstein.
Watstein has two sons, one a sophomore in high school and the other a seventh grader, and has noted a new emphasis on prevention. ‘My sons went to the same middle school and I don’t remember hearing much about bullies when my oldest was there, but (prevention) really seems to be a key issue nowadays,’ he says. Watstein notes that the school now uses several anti-bully measures, including enhanced parent-teacher communication and an annual assembly about the dangers of bullying.
Watstein’s experience is far from unique. Parents across the country have noticed similar bullying prevention programs being enacted, with a variety of methods being implemented to help students cope. But are these programs actually having any effect?
Is Bullying Declining?
Fortunately, the answer seems to be a resounding ‘yes.’ Several reports have determined and confirmed that bullying in general has decreased in recent years.
A recent study showed a consistent annual decline in bullying culminating in 2014, when a mere 13.4 percent of students claimed to be victims of bullying. The report also found that 88.5 percent of students reported feeling ‘safe’ and 79 percent reported a sense of belonging at school.
Much of this success can be directly attributed to heightened awareness. A 2013 report found that school-driven bullying prevention programs can decrease bullying by up to 23 percent. Clearly, these efforts to reduce harassment are having a positive effect across the country.
Recognizing Different Forms of Bullying
Though bullying may have decreased in recent years, a new challenge for teachers stems from the diverse forms that it can take. Though more traditional types of bullying such as physical abuse and verbal taunting are still prevalent, children often employ other, more modern means when picking on their classmates.
As a teacher, you need to recognize these methods so that you can eliminate them from the classroom.
Perhaps the fastest-growing form of bullying, cyberbullying involves the use of technology to harass or otherwise attack students.
‘Cyberbullying is definitely more of a hassle because it’s harder to pick up on,’ admits Jim Gregor, who teaches second grade. ‘It’s not too hard to notice verbal or physical bullying because they have tell-tale visual indicators, but aggressors and victims of cyberbullying are often more challenging to identify because they just look like students using their phones.’
The advent of technology has only made cyberbullying worse, as the wide range of platforms and continuous access means that victims never have the chance to recover. Students now have access to text messages, social media, and plenty of other applications that can be used on a 24⁄7 basis, meaning that bullying can often extend outside of school grounds.
This type of bullying is much more covert and often does not even directly involve the intended victim.
Rather than direct confrontation, social bullies aim to cause damage by more intricate methods. Instead of harassing a victim face-to-face, aggressors who use social bullying will instead spread hurtful rumors, encourage other students to socially exclude the victim, or damage the victim’s reputation.
Like cyberbullying, this practice can be hard to identify because it is not always overt and it can often be difficult to discern which students are the driving force behind the efforts to shun another student.
For more insight on how to identify and prevent bullying, this story contains some helpful tips and strategies that can help you provide support to your students and put a stop to harassment in your classroom.
While bullying may never completely be eradicated, increased awareness and advanced prevention techniques have already greatly reduced the problem and will continue to do so in the future. By taking a proactive role in identifying potential situations, teachers can be on the front lines in the battle to protect their students.