BullyingAmy Sharp | December 4, 2018
Recently in my Juvenile Justice course I was assigned to write a research paper regarding any topic within the realm of juvenile justice. The topic that I chose was bullying within high schools. What started as a simple assignment turned into an obsession over something that more people need to pay attention to.
According to the Journal of Adolescence, bullying is defined as intentional harmful aggressive behavior that is repetitive and involves an imbalance of power between perpetrator and target. While many people write this issue off as “normal” or something that every kid goes through, this should not be the case. Lately, this worldwide problem has become a focus of media attention due to school shootings and suicides being blamed on bullying within schools. During my quest of research for this paper, I came across a newspaper article that was the testimony of a couple of parents that were in the middle of a lawsuit with their daughter’s school district because of the belief that the district was not doing enough to prevent and solve bullying problems. The saddest part of this story is that their 12-year-old daughter named Mallory had committed suicide within hours of meeting with the school administration regarding her being bullied by her peers. I was completely shocked to read that a 12-year-old girl was bullied to the point of suicide. She felt as if death was the best escape. This is a huge problem. There is no sugarcoating this issue. There is no blaming the victim. There is no room to say that she was being dramatic or overreacting. This is an issue that can only be solved by our schools and our parents/guardians.
As my research continued I realized that I needed to focus on what solutions have been brought forward regarding these issues. The truth of the matter is that every bullying case is different. Sometimes the bully comes from a broken home, and violence is an outlet. Other times it is the victim that comes from a broken home or bad situation and that is the focus of why others feel the need to target them. This created a dilemma when it comes to finding a solution. I have narrowed it down to two broad ideas that can be applied in any situation, but first it needs total cooperation.
The responsibility of finding a solution to bullying rests upon the parents as well as the school administration. Yes. I said it. Parents are responsible for their children’s actions while they are at home AND at school. While children are on school campus, school administration must do everything in their power to prevent and intervene when bullying issues arise. What can schools do differently to help this? Supervision. Understanding. Need based programs that target specific cases such as when children have bad home lives, no parental supervision, or suffer from depression and anxiety. Rather than sending them to the school counselor for a quick chat and then suspension, find the root of the problem. Communicate with the parents to find solutions that can be carried out when they go home.
Parents and guardians, when your child comes home from school, really talk to them. Often times your kid will not tell you if they are being bullied and they will especially not tell you if they are bullying others. If you think your kid needs therapy, follow that parental instinct and get them help if you don’t think you can. Listen to your children’s teachers and administrators and let them know if there are issues as home. It is time that the barrier between home and school is broken and children feel safe, accepted, and listened to.
Many studies have been done over decades of research and all findings have come to show that communication and cooperation are the biggest ways to solve any issue. The biggest piece of advice, from parent to parent, is that it is so important to listen to your children. Never take anything they say lightly. They are smarter and much more aware than you would imagine. Suicide, depression, anxiety, and bullying are very real issues that exist even in elementary schools. It is not going to go away over night, but everyone can do something to help schools worldwide go from a place that insights fear in many, to a sanctuary for all children.
Bauman, S., Toomey, R. B., & Walker, J. L. (2012;2013;). Associations among bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide in high school students. Journal of Adolescence, 36(2), 341-350. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2012.12.001
Zaveri, M. (2018, June 22). After Daughter’s Suicide, Parents Sue School Over Bullying Response. New York Times, p. A20(L). Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A543876132/SCIC?u=vic_liberty&sid=SCIC&xid=ff73decf