Bullying, in many ways, is the last “acceptable” form of mental/physical abuse. Parents, eager to support a child as an adult against workplace harassment and discrimination, view that same harassment and discrimination IN the school system as “kids just being kids.” Then, once those same children grow up, we as a society are shocked that these “now adults” expect to get away with harassment or assault for minor slights – club/college brawls, road rage, etc. Moreover, victims of bullying have little recourse. Reporting abuse/harassment to school administration may result in the perpetrators receiving “detention” or suspension (and possibly eventual expulsion); however, the initial perception of detention as a “slap-on-the-wrist” often causes the bully to retaliate later against the victim. The victim, having not been protected by the system, resolves self to not report future incidents out of fear of escalation.
There needs to be extensive research into appropriate consequences/deterrents to Bullying behavior. Some consequences such as involving authorities early on, may be seen as extreme by parents seeking to protect the bully; however, I personally feel that addressing the seriousness of such actions early may have 2 distinct benefits: (1) prevention of escalated retaliation/protection of the victim, and (2) emphasis on the seriousness of harassing/abusive behaviors in the public setting – behaviors that as an adult will not be ignored as “kids-being-kids” and could result in jail time.
The following are a series of resources for victims of Bullying:
- National Bullying Prevention Center
- Stop Bullying. Gov
- Resources to Help Stop Bullying by Ellen Degeneres – including The Trevor Project, Pacer Center, and GLSEN (among others)
- Free Anti-Bullying Lesson Resources – Power Points, Lesson Plans, etc.
The National Association of School Psychologists has the following to say about Bullying:
Bullying is a widespread problem in our schools and communities. The behavior encompasses physical aggression, threats, teasing, and harassment. Although it can lead to violence, bullying typically is not categorized with more serious forms of school violence involving weapons, vandalism, or physical harm. It is, however, an unacceptable anti-social behavior that is learned through influences in the environment, e.g., home, school, peer groups, even the media. As such, it also can be unlearned or, better yet, prevented. (Cohn & Canter, 2003)
(Click the Quote for the complete article by: Andrea Cohn, and Andrea Canter, PhD, NCSP)