Children and Bullying

“Open Communication May Overcome Bullying”

Across the nation, newspapers and news outlets have been reporting on the rise of bullying taking place in our schools.  There are several actions that constitute as “bullying behavior”;  however, the more common types are  verbal and written taunts.  However, with the growth of technology, children now have the added concern of being cyber bullied as well. Children being victimized by their peers may exhibit some common signals indicating a problem is present. Children who are targeted by classmates may become withdrawn, nervous, and or depressed. School administrators need to be trained to recognize these emotional markers and more importantly, should be  prepared to notify the parents of all children involved to discuss any potential problem.   Furthermore, school administrators should have proactive measures in place to properly address the problem with the students directly before the situation escalates.

The topic of bullying has recently been brought to light by the media as numerous newspapers have covered the recent death of  two girls who committed suicide as a direct result to alleged reports of bullying.  Jasmine McClain, a ten year old child in North Carolina, was found by her mother after she hung herself with a belt. According to reports, Jasmine had been taunted by classmates and supposedly, school administrators were fully aware of the situation. The investigation is on going, however some speculate not enough had been done to protect Jasmine in this situation.  Additionally, in a small rural town in Illinois, ten year old Ashlynn Conner, also taunted by classmates, was found by her sister after she hung herself in her closet. Allegedly, the school was aware of Ashlynn’s situation, however the bullying persisted and ultimately Ashlynn committed suicide to escape the problem.

Not all cases of bullying end in suicide, however all children facing similar situations feel alone and perhaps even threatened.  Sadly, this has become a problem effecting kids of all ages.  Until recently, high school aged children were presumed  to be the only group affected by bullying behavior. However, more and more young children are exposed to this type of situation. Middle school and elementary aged children are now becoming victims to this type of abuse as well and as a result schools need to take a more proactive stance on addressing this problem. The abuse has become so common that according to stopbulling.gov, as many as 56% of students have personally witnessed some variation of bullying.

Many schools have enacted policies to specifically address bullying behavior. However training does not account for much unless the administrators follow through and enforce the policies to dissuade children from engaging in bullying behavior. School administrators need to be more attentive to children speaking out about possible taunting and threats taking place on school grounds. Furthermore, administrators need to contact parents of all students involved to openly discuss the situation. An open line of communication must be created between administrators, parents and students to openly address all problems. Only then can measures be taken to move forward and ensure the safety of all the students. Teachers and parents needs to work together to overcome this escalating problem. Hopefully, one day bullying will be more of a bad memory and less of a constant threat hanging over the heads of all school aged children.