BULLYING

WHAT WE KNOW

Characteristics of Bullies

Characteristics of Bullying Victims

Bullying affects not only the bully and the victim, but also those who observe the behavior. Bullying causes a negative impact on the overall school atmosphere by creating a climate of fear.

"The impact of bullying on a school climate can be toxic," says National Crime Prevention Council member and former school administrator James E. Copple. "Bullies and victims suffer well-documented damage, sometimes long-lasting. We've been overlooking the fact that bystanders experience fear, discomfort, guilt, and helplessness that poison the learning atmosphere even more extensively. The level of bystander exposure is far beyond what many of us expected, especially in the upper grade levels, and its growth is nothing short of terrifying."

Bystanders may also experience the following feelings.

Scandinavian studies have reported that kids who bully other students during their school years are likely to have criminal problems as adults.

Victims suffer long-term consequences .

Ten Myths about Bullying

Excerpted from "Sticks and Stones and Names Can Hurt You: De-Myth-tifying the Classroom Bully!" from Education World. Retrieved May 2004 from www.educationworld.com/a_issues/issues102.shtml.

  1. THE MYTH: Bullies suffer from insecurity and low self-esteem. They pick on others to make themselves feel more important .
    THE RESEARCH: Most bullies have average or above average self-esteem. They may instead experience aggressive temperaments, a lack of empathy, and poor parenting.
  2. THE MYTH: Bullies are looking for attention. Ignore them and the bullying will stop .
    THE RESEARCH: Bullies are looking for control, and they rarely stop if their behavior is ignored. The level of bullying usually increases if the bullying is not addressed by adults.
  3. THE MYTH: Boys will be boys .
    THE RESEARCH: Bullying is seldom outgrown; it's simply redirected. About 60% of boys identified as bullies in middle school commit at least one crime by the time they are 24.
  4. THE MYTH: Kids can be cruel about differences .
    THE RESEARCH: Physical differences play only a small role in bullying situations. Most victims are chosen because they are sensitive, anxious, and unable to retaliate.
  5. THE MYTH: Victims of bullies need to learn to stand up for themselves and deal with the situation .
    THE RESEARCH: Victims of bullies are usually younger or physically weaker than their attackers. They also may lack the social skills to develop supportive friendships and cannot deal with the situation alone.
  6. THE MYTH: Large schools or classes are conducive to bullying .
    THE RESEARCH: No correlation has been established between class or school size and bullying. In fact, there is some evidence that bullying may be less prevalent in larger schools, where potential victims have increased opportunities to find supportive friends.
  7. THE MYTH: Most bullying occurs off school grounds .
    THE RESEARCH: Although some bullying occurs outside of school or on the way to or from school, most bullying occurs on school grounds: in classrooms, in hallways, and on playgrounds.
  8. THE MYTH: Bullying affects only a small number of students .
    THE RESEARCH: At any given time, about 25% of U.S. students are the victims of bullies and about 20% are perpetrators. The National Association of School Psychologists estimates that 160,000 children stay home from school every day because they are afraid of being bullied.
  9. THE MYTH: Teachers know if bullying is a problem in their classes .
    THE RESEARCH: Bullying behavior usually takes place out of sight of teachers. Most victims are reluctant to report the bullying for fear of embarrassment or retaliation, and most bullies deny or justify their behavior.
  10. THE MYTH: Victims of bullying need to follow the adage "Sticks and stones will break your bones but names can never hurt you."
    THE RESEARCH: Victims of bullying often suffer lifelong problems with low self-esteem. They are prone throughout their lives to depression and other mental health problems and even to suicide.

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