Bullying is an act of aggression, typically by a child. It is actual or attempted injury caused to the victim by the bully on the basis of a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior impacts both – the child who bullies and the child who is bullied – academically, socially and psychologically. While the victim develops fear, low self-esteem, and begins to stay aloof, the bully, who is generally physically strong, becomes insensitive towards others and develops a disregard for rules.
Bullying among the U.S. kids has become a cause of concern. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the National Center for Education Statistics Institute of Education Sciences (IES), about 28 percent of students aged 12 to 18 years reported being bullied during their school years.
The National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month aims at spreading awareness about different forms of bullying, how it impacts children in different age groups and the need to eradicate this evil. To eliminate the issue of bullying, it is essential to make bullies understand that their behavior is unhealthy and can have negative consequences for their own life, later.
Let’s take a look at few of the simple ways in which this issue can be controlled:
- Provide clear behavioral expectations: It is essential to notify bullies that their behavior might have negative consequences. The schools should have a well-defined policy in place that clearly states the behavioral expectations from the students and the code of conduct to be maintained inside the premises. It should be ensured that the consequences for not fulfilling these responsibilities are severe enough to develop fear among the bullies. Moreover, the bullies should be punished appropriately for their conduct in accord with the stated policy so that they take the rules and regulations seriously.
- Avoid debates with bullies: Bullies are skilled manipulators and can easily convince others that their behavior was the best thing they could have been done at the moment of the incident. Therefore, it is best to not allow them to justify their behavior as they might end up convincing the school authorities that their behavior was correct. This will not only boost their confidence but also motivate them to continue such behavior. Though it is good to discuss the situation from a different perspective to make the bully understand how he could have acted differently, this should be done only after declaring the consequences he has to face for his misconduct.
- Avoid standardized responses: If every time the same response is given to an incident of bullying then it will give him or her a chance to plan the entire incident, keeping in mind the consequence. The bully will know what to expect and will find ways to save himself. To avoid such situations, it is essential for the school counselors to gain an accurate understanding of how the bully views the behavioral cost involved and accordingly develop a disciplinary plan of action to deal with it.
- Cautiously reinforce positive behavior: There are times when the bully might have been involved in some positive acts at school or have performed well in sports or academics. It is good for the school counselors to appreciate such performance and behavior as this might motivate them to engage in such activities to win the following they seek. But, it should be ensured and cross-checked that any such behavior or victory is not an outcome of a forced or violent behavior against others as this might inspire them to think positively about bullying and continue their deeds.
Changing the attitude of bullying is a must
Support from the family and bringing in changes in the attitude of bullies are essential to help them overcome their behavior. An avoidance of the problem can cause mental health issues in the victim and the bully, later in life.
If you or someone you know is dealing with mental health issues, the Florida Mental Health Helpline can help. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-846-5588 or chat online for further details about the best treatments for mental health disorders in Florida.
Read the other articles of the series based on the “National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month”: