How can bullied students overcome their perpetrators?

Posted by Ronald | September 30, 2013  |  No Comment

During the National Hazing Prevention Week (September 23 – September 27), the Robert D. Champion Drum Major for Change Foundation, Inc. provided a hazing and bulling awareness event at Greenforest Christian Academy in Decatur, Ga., under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Champion Sr. The program was moderated by journalist Blayne Alexander of WXIA/WATL TV. Following is an excerpt of one of the panelist’s speech, Dr. Ronald W. Holmes. In his speech, Holmes answered these critical questions: How can bullied students overcome their perpetrators? What are the effects of students being bullied? What is the school’s role in dealing with issues of student bullying?

When we think of the character Charlie Brown, we may think of the numerous times he was bullied and accused of wrongdoing. Charlie Brown was the character who was called inflammatory names such as blockhead and round-headed kid. He was also the character that when he got ready to kick a field goal, his own teammate would remove the ball from the surface before he kicked it, causing him to fall and get blamed for costing the team to lose the game.

Similar to hazing, bulling is a dangerous act that degrades, humiliates and harms a person psychologically or physically. Although hazing differs from bullying in that it pertains to an individuals’ participation in a group, bullying is a part of the hazing rituals and comes in different forms such as sexting and cyber bullying. They are the new age type of bullying. In a national iSAFE study of fourth to eight graders, 42 percent of these students suffered the impact of cyber bullying through electronic devices such as cell phones and the internet. In many instances, these inappropriate acts are coordinated before students enter the school buildings. Children between ages 8 and 18 spend an average of 52 hours a week using electronic devices according to Kaiser Family Foundation.

In a survey conducted by The Associated Press, “more than one-in-four teenagers have sexted in some form. Thirty percent of all respondents said they had been involved in sexting. Seventy percent of respondents 14–24 years old said that somebody had sent them nude pictures or videos of themselves.” In a typical sexting scenario described by a law official of a group of high school students, a female student agrees to text a nude picture of herself to a boyfriend because of continuous pressure from him. When the relationship ends, the boyfriend forwards the picture to other friends who may forward the picture to additional friends. The girl is harassed, bullied and embarrassed by the time the picture has circulated through her school. Consequently, the boyfriend and other parties could be charged with a felony, assessed fines and incarcerated if convicted. They could also be registered as a sex offender if the victim’s age is under 18.

When children become victims of bullying, it leads to their having low self-esteem, poor grades and attendance, mental health issues, loss of friends and interest in extra-curricular activities and revenge on their perpetrators. According to Secret Service, two-third of the students who attempted or completed shootings in America’s schools were bullied. As an intervention, the National Education Association recommends parents employ relevant tips to help their children overcome being bullied by their perpetrators such as asking and attentively listening to their children about activities and challenges at school; teaching their children to solve conflict without using violence and supporting bully prevention programs at their children’s school.

Since many instances of sexting, cyber bullying or bullying occur during school, the school has a significant role to play in eliminating the behavior. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, the school should assess the problem, increase faculty supervision of students during class change and conduct school-wide assemblies related to the issue. The classroom teachers should also reinforce classroom expectations with parents. The staff should intervene with victims, perpetrators and their guardians to employ viable strategies to fully rectify the concern at the school.

The famous expression, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words shall never harm me” is obsolete in this day and time for many public school students. One third of today’s middle and high school students report being bullied through verbal and physical means. These incidents include teasing, shoving, pushing, spitting or tripping. In fact, it is estimated that 13 million children are bullied each year. Bullying is a serious epidemic causing students to drop out of school, commit a crime or take their own lives.

As a result, school leaders must be more transparent in their day-to-day routines and reinforce school policies with faculty members and students in multiple ways such as assemblies, pep rallies, meetings and class periods throughout the academic year. School leaders must communicate these same policies to parents and community constituents such as law enforcement and social service agencies for improved accountability. Ultimately, school leaders must build strong relationships with their students so that they become compelled to inform the authorities of any form of bigotry or harassment confronting their safety, health or life.

In my view, it will take a multi-disciplined approach to address the bullying in our society. It must begin with educating all parties such as students, parents, teachers, administrators and community constituents on how to handle the issue. Schools must have strong anti-bullying policies supported by laws that have strong sentences for this inappropriate behavior. Finally, it will take a community at large to raise the conscious of everyone that bullying will not be tolerated against our children. In this era, bullying is not just a part of “growing up or children being children.” It is the number one problem confronting schools and must be eradicated.

Therefore, we must expose our teenagers, parents and community to anti-bullying prevention programs to help them better understand how to cope and prevent this bullying whether it occurs in the classroom, home, community or through electronic means.

Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author of four books, “Education Questions to be Answered,” “Current Issues and Answers in Education,” “How to Eradicate Hazing and “Professional Career Paths.” He is publisher of “The Holmes Education Post,” an education focused Internet newspaper. Holmes is a former teacher, school administrator and district superintendent. He can be reached at [email protected]

Leave a Comment