By Sarah Fader
Updated December 18, 2018
While it has recently become a hot-button topic, school bullying has been a problem for generations. Heck, one of the most beloved Christmas films ever - A Christmas Story - focuses on bullying as one of its major plot points. It's a rite of passage for most people, and in some cases, it can go too far. While people's hearts may be in the right place when it comes to stopping bullying in school, it is practically impossible to do so.
Types Of Bullying
Whether it's high school bullying or bullying in elementary schools, bullying is the same no matter the ages of those involved. Typically, bullying can take three forms: physical bullying, verbal bullying, and cyberbullying. Cyberbullying, surprisingly, happens the least, while verbal bullying is the most common.
For middle school students,in particular, the following types of bullying have been reported regarding most common to least, according to StopBullying.gov:
- Gossiping about others
- Hitting or kicking
- Ignoring the person
- Stealing the person's belongings
- Making sexual comments or gestures
- Cyberbullying via email or blogs
What Is Cyberbullying?
When someone engages in cyberbullying, this means that they are harassing another person over an electronic device, such as a cell phone, computer, or tablet. This is done by sharing, sending, or posting untrue or negative messages about someone via:
- Text messages
- Online forums or chat rooms
- Social media accounts, like Facebook or Twitter.
Cyberbullying can also extend to the sharing of personal or otherwise private information with the intention of embarrassing the victim. Extreme forms of cyberbullying can be classified as criminal, such as those news stories involving people who cyberbullied others to the point of suicide.
Cyberbullying is especially brutal because it is a lot harder for authoritative figures to see. They can't read a text message unless the victim shares those messages with them, and they can't see posts to social media unless they are friends with the bullies online or frequent the same chat rooms the bullies do, which is incredibly unlikely.
Another way in which cyberbullying is more vicious than normal bullying is that a persistent bully can continue to communicate with the victim ad nauseum, texting them or posting things about them all day every day, even going so far as to time posts in the future so that the victim is subjected to an endless barrage of mean messages.
The scary thing about a person's private or personal information being made public is that once something is posted to the internet, it is essentially a part of the permanent record. So, if a college bully gets ahold of embarrassing photos of you at the last party and posts them to Facebook, those photos -especially if the bully's account is set to "public" - are on the internet forever. The bully may be reported,and the photos were taken down, but not before someone else,like the bully's friends, potentially made copies of them and shared them elsewhere.
The good news is that once a bully has established a negative presence online, this can affect everything from the jobs he or she gets to the schools that admit him or her. The bad news, however, is that this is a double-edged sword in that the same applies to you. Should those embarrassing pictures be searchable to your potential employers and college admissions departments, then you too may be indirectly robbed of a bright future.
Bullying Statistics In Schools
As per statistics collected and submitted to StopBullying.gov in or around September of 2017, bullying at school is a prevalent problem. Take bullying in middle school, for example. There are no "safe zones" on a middle school's campus where a child will not be bullied:
- The majority of bullying (29 percent) occurs in the classroom, the hallways, or at the children's lockers.
- The cafeteria is a close second insofar as where children are bullied the most often.
- Also known places for bullying are, respectively, gym class (about 20 percent), the bathrooms (about 12 percent), and on the playground (about 6 percent.)
Middle school bullying can also occur on the school bus, via cell phone, or on the internet. Generally speaking, anywhere that children can gather within a community is a prime location for bullying.
About 49 percent of children in grades 4-12 have experienced being bullied by other students at least once per month while in school. About 30 percent of all U.S. students have admitted to being those bullies. An equal number of staff members and students have reported being witnesses to a bullying incident (70 percent), but when a witness tries to intervene, the bullying only stops about 57 percent of the time.
When compared to other countries' school bullying statistics, statistics for the U.S. are about average, according to the World Health Organization.
Bullying can be a tough subject to discuss with your children. YouTube videos can serve as a helpful resource in that sometimes they can say what you can't, thereby bridging the communication gap between you and your child. Bullying videos for middle school, junior high, and high school students can also help those students engage in a conversation that they weren't before sure how to start.
It is recommended that you watch the videos yourself first so that you understand the message that is being conveyed. If you feel that you gained enough information from the video to start a conversation with your child and that you don't need to show your child the video per se, then that's fine. Else, you can show the videos to your child after you have seen them and have already thought of some things you would like to engage them on based on what they are about to watch.
Bark.Us has a list of the top five YouTube anti-bullying videos they recommend watching and then showing to your children to foster a discussion. The title of each video, along with a short description, is provided in the list below.
- "The Bully" - a short film created by a 12-year-old with the help of his father. The boy, Jonah, discusses bullying and cyberbullying and offers tips to those who have been bullied.
- "Silent" - Created by a high school freshman, "Silent" is an award-winning short film that encourages children to stand up for their friends when they witness a bullying incident, rather than just being a silent witness.
- "Thirteen" - A short film about middle school bullying, "Thirteen," tells the story of Caroline, a 13-year-old who has trouble "fitting in" and who wants to feel comfortable in her skin.
- "Strain" - "Strain," tells the familiar story of two girls who were once best friends - until, that is, one of them becomes one of the popular kids in high school. The friends get into a fight after the leader of the popular kids bullies the less popular friend. "Strain" is perhaps one of the heavier videos on this list, as it tackles strong subjects like suicide, self-harm, and alcoholism.
- "Sincere Compliment" - This video was created by Jeremiah, a high school junior at the time which is all about projecting positivity in the world, including creating a Facebook page and Twitter account, to which he would post genuine compliments and notes of encouragement to his peers.
When you think "bullying," you may think tweens or teenagers reacting cruelly to one of their similarly aged classmates. Bullies eventually outgrow treating others badly, right? Once you've graduated, you never have to worry about bullies again, right?
Wrong. Bullying knows no age. Even coworkers can bully each other. Using this logic, bullying in college also becomes a legitimate concern. While hazing is a form of bullying - one that can become incredibly dangerous rather quickly - it is typically college freshmen who experience the most abuse.
Most bullying reaches its apex in middle school to the point where bullying in high school dwindles down to nothing by the time graduation rolls around. However, if the bullies in question are never forced to take responsibility for their actions, or if they are never punished for being bullies, then their behavior develops into a pattern that may never completely go away.
This is why you have middle-aged parents bullying 13-year-olds on social media. They have developed a reliable method for getting the reaction they want out of people, and they will keep using it until someone calls them out on it.
Parents of college-age children should continue to discuss bullying issues with their children, particularly if those children are leaving home to live on campus. It is important that they continue to work on building themselves up insofar as self-esteem, assertiveness, and social skills are concerned so that they can handle bullying issues as they may present themselves both in college and in the workplace. Confidence and resilience are like kryptonite to a bully.
Ways To Stop Bullying
It may seem like an impossible feat to stop someone from bullying you, and depending on the bully, it just might be. However, there are tips out there that others offer suggestions for methods they tried that stopped their bullies from harassing them any further.
Here are a few methods that have worked for bullying victims in the past:
- Resolving the Issue on Your Own: You can choose to ignore the bully or talk to him or her to cool the situation. Going forward, surround yourself with positive people who don't engage in gossip. Pro tip: if your friends make you nervous or uncomfortable, then they are probably not good friends.
- Speaking Up for Yourself: Don't back down from the bully. Stand up for yourself. If that doesn't work, tell an authority figure like a teacher or counselor. Open up to your parents and friends about what you're experiencing for support and advice.
- Taking Back Your Life: Maintain a positive attitude. Get more involved in school activities and take pleasure in your interests and hobbies. Don't let the bullies bring you down about what you like or don't like. You're you, an individual, and it doesn't matter what anyone else says or if anyone else likes what you like.
- Get the School Involved: If you've tried everything, and you simply can't get the bully to stop, then it's time to involve the school. If you know of other kids who are being bullied by the same people, gather a group of you together and head down to the principal's office. Strength in numbers. If one student can't bring the principal's attention to an issue, a group of students just might.
If you are the victim of bullying and you are having difficulty coping, consider reaching out to one of our counselors for tips and advice to help you get through it.