How to Eradicate Bullying

How to Eradicate Bullying

by Ph.D. Ronald W. Holmes


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How to Eradicate Bullying by Ph.D. Ronald W. Holmes

This book provides research-based strategies to eradicate bullying from the school culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504927468
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 08/06/2015
Pages: 60
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.14(d)

Read an Excerpt

How to Eradicate Bullying

By Ronald W. Holmes


Copyright © 2015 Ronald W. Holmes, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5049-2746-8


Defining Bullying

Historical Perspective

Psychological Perspective

Social-Ecological Perspective

Legal Perspective

With bullying being interwoven in American society and constantly occurring in the community and schools, we must clearly understand the meaning of bullying from a historical, psychological, social- ecological and legal perspective. We must recognize characteristics and signs of bullying and learn appropriate steps for stopping it.

Historical Perspective

In this century, bullying has increasingly become a major societal problem as reported in the media. It may come in the form of direct bullying such as physical or verbal aggressions and indirect bullying or relational aggression such as cyber bullying or sexting. In the U.S., for example, the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in 1999, brought attention to this epidemic. At that time, it was perhaps one of the most deadly school shootings in America where two students killed twelve classmates, a teacher and wounded twenty-four others before killing themselves. Over a year, these students strategically planned their retaliation against their schoolmates who had bullied them (Raywid cited in Fegenbush 2010).

Prior to this incident and due to the request for parental consent in the U.S., little or no research was done about bullying except in other countries such as Australia and Europe. In the 1970s, Dan Olweus considered the founding father of bullying, published a book called the Aggression in the Schools: Bullies and Whipping Boys in 1973 in Scandinavia and in 1978 in the U.S. After a 1983 suicide-related death of three adolescent boys severely bullied by their perpetrators in Norway, Norwegian officials initiated a national campaign against bullying in Norwegian schools. Olweus, a native of Norway, developed the first Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) to address school bullying with proactive and reactive measures on the school, class and individual levels utilizing a set of criteria/recommendations for each level such as a questionnaire survey, role playing and change of class. The OBPP is designed in order that school stakeholders such as teachers, staff and administrators are provided responsibility to introduce and implement the anti-bullying program. It is the most used program in the world. Please see Figure 4 as published in Fegenbush (2010).

As a part of his research, Olweus in 1987 obtained data from 140,000 students in 715 Norwegian schools whereas 15% were involved in bullying of some type, 94% were classified as victims and 6% were classified as bullies. While the definitions of bullying varies in studies, Olweus defined bullying as "when a student is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more students and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself" (Olweus cited in Wood, 2013).

With a basis for understanding this bullying phenomenon, Olweus' research caught on in other countries in the 1980s and 1990s, and a plethora of research on bullying was studied by American researchers near 2001, said Fegenbush. In 2001, for instance, a national study was conducted in the U.S. of 15,686 sixth through tenth graders about bullying. Approximately 29.9% of the students reported moderate to frequent involvement in bullying, 13% identified themselves as bullies, 10.6% identified themselves as victims and 6.3% identified themselves as bully-victims according to Espelage & Swearer (cited in Wood 2013).

In 2010, the Josephson Institute of Ethics conducted a large study in the U.S. regarding the attitudes of 43,321 high schools students. From this study, 50% of the students admitted they had bullied a person in the previous year, and 47% indicated they were bullied, taunted or teased in a way that frustrated them in the previous year also (Josephson Institute of Ethics cited in Wood 2013).

Thus, it is time to eradicate bullying and other forms of harassment, intimidation and bigotry from the school culture. Students should not feel unsafe in school and jeopardized of a quality education.

Psychological Perspective

In order to understand human development, psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner proposed in 1979 a theory of ecological-systems. This system is comprised of "five socially organized subsystems that guide human growth and development" through a child's social relationships and surrounding environment. They include microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and chronosystem. The microsystem relates to the interaction a child has with his immediate environment such as school, home, daycare, work, peers, teachers or family members. For example, a child who has a nourishing home with parents and siblings, attends a safe school with supportive teachers and peers can benefit positively from this type of climate.

The mesosytem comprises of the interactions between the different components of a child's microsystem and on how the environments impacts his or her development. One example would be the relationship between the child's guardian and teacher. For example, a child's parent who attends Parent Teacher Student Association meetings regularly and volunteers in the child's classroom and school activities can have a positive impact on the child's development because the different components of the microsystem are working harmoniously together.

The exosystem consists of environments that do not encompass the child in an active role but still have an impact on him or her. For example, a child's parent who gets a raise or fired from a job can have a deleterious influence on the child although the child did not have anything to do with the employer's decision.

The macrosystem relates to the cultural environments in which a child resides, as well as the influences from all of the systems (microsystem, mesosystem and exosystems) have on the individual. For instance, a child's living environment in a particular city, state or country can be different from another child and, subsequently, have a positive or negative influence on the individual's development. The chronosystem relates to the changes in the characteristics of a child over time, as well as the environment where the individual resides. For example, a parent's divorce and change in residency from the other spouse can have a negative impact on a child's behavior for a certain period of time.

Thus, a close examination of the ecological systems theory proposed by psychologist Bronfenbrenner, provides research to help understand why people behave differently in one setting versus another environment such as the home, school, and work (Bronfenbrenner cited in Wood, 2013). School leaders should be knowledgeable of these subsystems that guide human growth and development to improve the learning process.

Sociological-Ecological Perspective

Drawing on Bronfenbrenner's research on the five socially organized subsystems that guide human growth and development through a child's social relationships and surrounding environment, Swearer and Espelage in 2004 established a social-ecological framework of bullying among youth. Components of the framework include culture, community, school, peers, family, bully, bully-victim, victim, and bystander (See Figure 5). Swearer and Espelage highlight that bullying does not occur in isolation since the relationships across family, peer, school, and community contexts will impact the engagement or non-engagement in bullying and victimization behaviors. Since bullying is a "complex phenomenon with multiple causal factors and outcomes," they advocate, and affirmed by other researchers, that intervention programs on bullying will be most effective if the programs target multiple environments such as the home, community and school (Swearer and Espelage cited in Wood, 2013).

Legal Perspective

Bullying is an epidemic in American schools resulting in 49 states to adopt anti-bullying laws. It impacts people of all races, genders, ages, religions and class. When schools are confronted with challenges of students being bullied by their perpetrators, this can lead to potential lawsuits on the basis of Title VI, IX, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Depending on the court cases, schools may be forced to develop, implement and or expand their policies and procedures, as well as take appropriate measures to prevent and respond to bullying incidents.

For effective practices, it is critical that schools appoint an anti-bullying coordinator, train their faculty and staff on anti-bullying preventions, investigate thoroughly bullying incidents and have a communication plan for informing all stakeholders such as parents of anti-bullying prevention activities and the consequences of bullying acts.

Liability issues pertaining to students being bullied or hazed through events such as extra-curricular activities can range from schools being negligent for lack of supervision and failure to provide a reasonable duty of care for the victims. Other liability issues can include failure of schools to provide a safe environment, failure to report an incident to the authority (knowingly or unknowingly), failure to educate, supervise and evaluate school stakeholders (students, faculty members, etc.), failure to develop and implement policies and procedures and failure to properly enforce anti-bullying laws.

While there are no perfect educational institutions, it is essential that schools take proactive steps to effectively address bullying in their settings. Courts are bombarded with legal cases and decisions to determine if there were a "duty of care" between student victims of bullying and educational institutions, as well as if the institutions are "deliberately indifferent" to the harassment that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively inhibits the student victims' access to an educational benefit or opportunity.

Therefore, schools must employ appropriate measures to prevent and respond to bullying incidents on their campuses including students participating in school sponsored activities, students riding school provided transportation and students using school-owned technology. They must adopt policies, procedures and laws that prohibit the harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) of their students. According to the U.S. Department of Education, a number of states are leaders in providing bullying policies such as Georgia, Florida, Kansas and Massachusetts, which includes a provision to provide training to staff members and help them prevent, identify and respond to bullying in the educational setting. For understanding of why schools must adopt policies, procedures and laws to prohibit HIB, Figure 6 provides some examples of legal cases on bullying.


Step I - Educate Stakeholders

Bullying is the number one problem in schools according to Kaiser Family Foundation. It is causing students to face a high level of depression and anxiety when they are bullied verbally, physically and electronically. Astoundingly, nearly 160,000 students are absent from school and 1.2 dropout of school annually due to their bullies according to the National Education Association. Additionally, two-third of the students who attempted or completed shootings in America's schools were bullied according to the Secret Service as reported in Behavioral Management.

To ensure the safety of individuals for all "protected classes," (race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality and sexual orientation), we must educate all stakeholders such as students, parents, teachers, administrators and community representatives on the policies, procedures and laws for anti-bullying preventions. Students must know clearly what the policies, procedures and laws are regarding bullying in the educational setting. This information must be very transparent regardless of whether students are participating in extra-curricular activities, attending school sponsored field trips or engaging in other school activities.

In this millennium, children between ages eight and 18 spend an average of 53 hours a week using electronic media such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, cell phones and video games which leads to lower school grades and students being less happy, according to a study by Kaiser Family Foundation. Through bullying tactics such as sexting and cyberbullying, a third of middle school and high school students have reported being bullied during the school year.

At the 2013 Blueprint For Excellence National Conference in Walt Disney World Rosort, Florida, Dr. David Walsh, founder of Mind Positive Parenting indicated that "whatever the brain does a lot is what it gets good at doing." He also indicated that four out of five teens sleep with their cell phones near them, and 20 percent of babies born have some type of technology device. Realizing this, it is essential to teach children in this information age digital awareness to avoid overuse and misuse of technology such as sexting and cyberbullying.

Therefore, anti-bullying preventions information must be an essential part of the Student Code of Conduct and any extra-curricular activity in the academic setting. Along with the faculty sponsor reviewing the policies, procedures and laws with students on bullying for their respective activity, schools must create anti-bullying training including a campus 24-hour anonymous bullying hotline. Students must complete an assessment questionnaire after the training to prove their knowledge and understanding of bullying, as well as know whom to call if they have any concerns. Educational institutions that use a "whole school approach" to address bullying such as the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, include all stakeholders in the school-wide bullying prevention program.

In addition to completing the assessment questionnaire, students must complete a class assignment such as an essay on bullying which coincide with most states to offer students some type of educational offering on bullying (McCormac, 2015). They must also participate in a school or community service project regarding anti-bullying preventions before participating in a school activity or attending a school sponsored fieldtrip. We have to educate all stakeholders such as students on bullying to ensure that they fully understand the seriousness of the matter. With these requirements intact combined with students maintaining good academic standing and behavior, our expectation for student safety and participation in extra-curricular activities and school sponsored fieldtrips will be enhanced and substantiated by interventions as a viable means to eradicate bullying. Figure 7 provides a sample letter for schools to use to educate student stakeholders, support the Student Code of Conduct and provide proof of anti-bullying prevention compliance.


Step II - Review Policies, Procedures and Laws

Having policies, procedures and laws are very important, but reviewing them are just as important. To eradicate bullying, we must routinely review the policies, procedures and laws on anti-bullying preventions with all stakeholders such as students, faculty members and parents at the school. In Step I of the model, we discussed how to eradicate bullying through the involvement of students. In Step II of the model, we provide examples of how to eradicate bullying through the involvement of parent stakeholders.

Bullying is a major problem for students in America's schools, yet many parents fail to talk to their children about the matter according to Kaiser Family Foundation. Therefore, schools must use social media, newsletters, websites, special events and online bullying training to review and discuss periodically the policies, procedures and laws on anti-bullying preventions. Through social media such as Facebook and Twitter, this will give parents an opportunity to periodically review information on bullying and participate in dialogue for improved knowledge and understanding. Also, through newsletters, websites, special events and online bullying training, this will give parents an opportunity to review pertinent information on bullying and participate in anti-bullying prevention programs in the school setting. Ultimately, this will provide a paper trail of interventions to eradicate bullying from the school culture. Figure 8 provides a sample newsletter to parents illustrating Jane S. Doe Public School's approach to review the policies, procedures and laws of anti-bullying preventions. This same letter can be tailored for faculty, teachers and staff members since they, staff members such as bus drivers, food service and security workers, receive the least amount of training on anti-bullying prevention strategies. With inadequate training, this leads to many staff members perceiving bullying differently from students and not sufficiently responding to bullying complaints. Subsequently, this leads to many students being less inclined to report bullying incidents to them (National Education Association, 2010).


Excerpted from How to Eradicate Bullying by Ronald W. Holmes. Copyright © 2015 Ronald W. Holmes, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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