Bullying: A Quality of Life Issue

Merlin Langley, Ph.D.
Merlin Langley, Ph.D.

Bullying: A Quality of Life Issue

By Merlin R. Langley, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Social Work Florida A&M University

聽聽聽聽 Concerns about bullying and its role in school violence, depression, and health have grown in the past decade. Bullying is different from the routine conflicts of childhood. It is intentional behavior meant to hurt and dominate another person, internationally, the prevalence of bullying in elementary schools range from approximately 11 percent in Finland to 50 percent in Ireland. In the United States, 19 percent of children ages (blank) to (blank) are bullied. Though bullying behaviors decline as a student progresses through school, the numerous physical, mental, and social detriments can last well into adulthood. Bullying also impacts academic achievement, school bonding and absenteeism. National media headlines during the last year indicate a need for a proactive approach to combat an issue that affects everyone鈥檚 quality of life.

What is bullying?

聽聽聽 Bullying is characterized by an imbalance of power between the child who bullies and the target (another child). It can be physical, verbal, emotional or sexual. Bullying also includes harassment via email and instant messaging. Research shows that bullying generally begins in elementary school, peaks in grades six through eight, and persists into high school. Here are some startling statistics:

聽聽聽 路 1 out of four kids is bullied (25 percent);

聽聽聽 路 1 out of five kids admits to being a bully of doing some bullying (20 percent);

聽聽聽 路 1 out of three children and youth in grades six through 10th have been bullied (33 percent);

聽聽聽 路 1 out of four teachers sees nothing wrong with bulling or putdowns (25 percent);

聽聽聽 路 The prevalence of having been bullied on school property was higher among females (21 percent); than males (18.7 percent); and

聽聽聽 路 Among students homicide perpetrators were more than twice as likely as homicide victims to have been bullied.

Effects of Bullying on Victims

聽聽聽 Several studies report that children who bully are more likely than their peers to get into frequent fights, vandalize/steal pro-perty; drink alcohol and/or smoke; be truant and/or drop out from school; and carry a weapon. Research also shows that for kids who identify as being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender the presence of a youth-led gay-straight alliance; inclusive curriculum materials; and the presence of supportive adults makes a significant and positive difference in the life of these kids.

聽聽聽 Cyber bullying inflicts emotional harm in a stealth manner via Websites, chat rooms, email, cell phones and instant messaging. A National Institute of Health study that analyzed 6th through eighth graders indicated cyber bullying has more of a psychological impact on children and adolescents because they may not know who is harassing them online. The cloak of anonymity causes victims to feel dehumanized or helpless at the time of the attack. Specifically, some adolescents who are regular victims of cyber-bulling may experience emotional distress and suicidal thoughts. Furthermore, cyber bullies are more likely to be older adolescents rather than their younger counterparts.

Recommendations for Schools

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 The most effective methods to reduce bullying involve a whole school approach. This includes assessing the problem, planning school conference days, providing better supervision at recess, forming a bullying prevention coordinating group, encouraging parent-teacher meetings, establishing classroom rules against bullying, holding classroom meetings about bullying, requiring talks with the bullies and victims, and scheduling talks with the parents of involved students.

Recommendations for Communities

The 2010 health care reform legislation presents a new opportunity to prevent bullying through the creation of school based health centers (SBHC) designed to increase student access to health and mental healthcare services. SCBC鈥檚 have made health and mental services affordable, convenient and integrate clinical care with new public health interventions strategies.

Recommendations for Children

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 SPEAK UP! Immediately tell an adult if you witness or are a victim of bullying.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 REACH OUT! Ask friends to join them in being a kid against bullying.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 BE A FRIEND! Invite a kid who is being bullied to play with you.


Recommendations for Parents

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 TALK! Talk to your child to find out if she or he is bulling others.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 OBSERVE! Monitor your child鈥檚 behavior and consult a mental health professional to rule out disability.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 TAKE ACTION AT HOME! Teach your child how to respond effectively to a bully.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 TAKE ACTION AT SCHOOL! Work with teachers and administrators to create a safe environment.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 SUPPORT the development of school based health centers in your neighborhood.

Join Langley for a live Twitter chat on Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. to answer your questions about bullying. Follow @FAMU_LivingWell.


About Carma Henry 22156 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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