Bullying, harassment are hot topics in school
By Breanna Carver
Students who are bullied and who bully are 16 times more likely to carry a weapon. There are currently no studies which specify which of the two demographics is more likely to engage in the behavior.
This poses the question: is it the bully or the victim who is more likely to be violent?
In 1998 The National Center for Education Statistics examined the link between bullying and violence by examining four violence-related behaviors:
• Carrying a weapon in the last 30 days
• Carrying a weapon in school in the last 30 days
• Fighting in the past year
• Sustaining an injury due to violence that required medical care.
This study showed that victims of bullying were more likely to feel that violence was a solution to their problems. However, the study did not conclude that victims of bullying were the most likely to be dangerous as it had previously been speculated. It also made evident that youth who bully or are bullied are at a higher risk to be involved in one or more of the violence-related behaviors.
“Most of the time I see that it is the bully that is aggressive, and that the person being bullied is rather passive and tries to avoid it,” school resource officer Sgt. Perry Parsons said.
According to a Health Behaviour in School Aged Children study, tendencies toward violence is more common in boys, whereas girls are more involved in relational bullying/harassment (cyber and social). In 2007, only about 4% of students reported being involved in cyber bullying. In 2009 another study was conducted that re-examined the prevalence of bullying in all four areas (physical, verbal, social, cyber) and this study showed that that number involved with social bullying had increased dramatically (14%).
“I see that rise everywhere,” Sgt. Parsons said. “Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all being used and I’m also seeing adults using it as a form of intimidation and threats. Usually something happens because they feel that someone has wronged them, or has wronged a friend. A lot of the time, the person threatening someone else wasn’t even involved. It was a friend they felt was done wrong, then they retaliate and it turns to something huge.”
According to US Legal, bullying is described as an intentional act that causes harm to others, including but not limited to: verbal or non-verbal threats, taunts, physical attacks, blackmail, manipulation, and even extortion. They claim that an imbalance of power generally exists between the bully and the victim. The same site describes harassment as conduct that annoys, threatens, intimidates, demeans which includes but is not limited to: derogatory comments, slurs, and assault.
Nearly 1 in 3 students (about 27.8%) report being bullied during the school year according to National Bullying Prevention Center but only 36% of those students report it to an authority figure.
This poses the question: Why do students not report these incidences and what exactly is being done about this apparent and prevalent issue?
Since the original survey in 1998, the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children has been conducted twice, once in 2002 and again in 2005. The new surveys indicate bullying is decreasing in schools.
“I do think that media coverage of the issue has lead to increased legislation regarding bullying where it’s bully-specific policies,” assistant principal Michelle Ginkins said. “I would say that those are big pieces as to why the frequency of bullying has decreased. There are programs you can purchase and programs you can find online. I would think that there is an increase over the years where schools can implement programs. Our middle schools use one called OAIS Bullying. Also, I went to a conference about bullying two years ago. I would bet that, statistically speaking, the increase of the implementation of these programs is related to the decrease in bullying.”