Bullyingin Tennessee Public High Schools
Bullyingin Tennessee Public High Schools
Eachand every parent or guardian would really love to see their childrenbe natured in a school environment that is very supportive and freefrom any barriers that may negatively hinder the whole learningprocess. Notably, one of the worrying concerns and actually asignificant factor that is becoming a global issue is bullying. Inorder to fully understand bullying, it is very crucial to know thedefinition of bullying. Notably, there is no definite or universaldefinition of bullying, however, Sherer & Nickerson (2010)described bullying as an aggressive behavior that entails the use ofsuperior strength, force or threats by an individual to eitherintimidate or influence someone so that they can forcefully dosomething against their will. Further, according to the Department ofEducation (2013), bullying is a negative, unwanted and repetitivebehavior that is either physical, psychological or verbal practicedby a person or a group of people against another person or persons.This unwarranted behavior is often characterized by a hostile intentand imbalance of power. The bullying act is also habitual andrepeated over a period of time. In the recent past, bullying caseshave been witnessed in most learning institutions. This literaturereview, therefore, seeks to provide a comprehensive background onbullying in Tennessee Public High Schools based on the informationand data collected about the problem.
Issuesrelated to Bullying
Undeniably,bullying is associated with a number of issues which affect thevictims either emotionally, physically or mentally. First, aconsistent pattern of physical illness such as stomach aches andheadaches is one of the issues that is related to bullying(Gradinger, Strohmeier & Spiel, 2009). If a student is in suchunusual condition, it is prudent enough for the parents to takeurgent necessary measures to establish the main cause and control thesituation before it gets out of hand. Further, dismal grades,significant deterioration in general performance, loss ofconcentration in class as well as the lack of interest and enthusiasmin school is an issue that is related to bullying (Gradinge et al).In addition, other issues related to bullying include unwillingnessor refusal to go to school, mysterious changes in the student’sbehavior or mood which normally happens after holidays or weekends.It is also important to note that, situations involving unexplainedbruises, body cuts or tone clothes, frequent damages or loss ofpossessions as well as visible signs of anxiety or stress such assleeping difficulties, lack of eating appetite, vomiting, nightmares,crying and stammering are all issues related to bullying (Gradinge etal).
Bullyingcan be carried out through various acts which are intended to harmthe targeted victims in one way or another. Some acts of bullying canbe in the form of intimidation (Departmentof Education and Skills, 2013).This entails the use of use of body language in an aggressive mannerwith the voice being used as the weapon. To upset the victims, theperpetrators of bullying use the facial expression that is meant toconvey hostility or dislike. Also, physical aggression is perceivedto be an act of bullying. It can be through tripping, kicking,poking, severe physical assault, shoving or pushing the victims(Garby, 2013).Moreover, persistent name calling and insults directed to otherstudents with the motive of either hurting or humiliating them is anact that is associated with bullying. According to Departmentof Education and Skills, (2013),Insults and name calling are often based on the victims’ physicalappearance, distinct voice or accent as well as their academicperformance. Another act identified to be mimicking bullying isdamaging, stealing, hiding or destroying other students’possessions. The properties include school uniform, personal orschool books and other revision materials. Extortion was alsoestablished to be one of the acts of bullying. Normally, more seniorstudents use threats to forcefully demand money from the rest of thestudents. Sometimes the victims might be misused and lured intoengaging themselves in unlawful practices such as stealing for thebenefit of the students bullying them. Equally important, acts ofbullying can be manifested through deliberate exclusion or isolation.It usually initiated and perpetuated by a student who mobilizesothers to undermine or reject the company of another student or peers(Departmentof Education and Skills, 2013).
Withoutdoubt, student bullying is still worrying issue in most learninginstitutions despite the significant and remarkable steps made by thevarious stakeholders to curb such undesirable practice (Rigby& Smith, 2011).Variousstudies have shown a steady decrease in the number of bullying casesreported all over the years. According to American Journal of PublicHealth (2014), there is a considerable decrease in the number ofcases reported involving physical fighting, bullying victimization aswell as bullying perpetration between the years 1998 and2010.Moreover, incidences of students carrying weapons to schoolsubstantially increased more especially amongst the white students.Although the number of reported school bullying cases has decreased,a good number of students still suffer either directly or indirectly(Wang, Iannotti & Nansel, 2009).
Asit has been noted before, school bullying cases have tremendouslydecreased all over the years. The number of students who reportedcases of bullying cases in various institutions of learning in theUnited States decreased from 13.7% in the year 1998 to 10.2% in theyear 2010 (American Journal of Public Health 2014). Further,statistics from the study indicate that physical fighting amongstudents was at 23.4% in the year 1998 but significantly dropped to18.4% in 2006.However, there were no changes in the number of fightsreported between the year 2006 and 2010. In addition, the number ofwhite students carrying weapons to school increased from 10.7% in1998 to 15.5% in 2012.The statistics of carrying weapons remained thesame for other racial and ethnical groups (American Journal of PublicHealth 2014). In another study which involved 43,000 students in theUnited States, it is established that school bullying is stillpracticed since more than half of the participants admitted that theyhave been bullied before (Dupper, 2013).
Legalissues related to bullying
Unquestionably,perpetration of either school bullying or cyberbullying is illegal. Anumber of elected leaders, school community, and the general publicperceive bullying as a serious issue that is often neglected thusaffecting a good numbers most schools (Swearer, Limber, & Alley,2009). According to the U.S Department of Education (2011), the statehas come up with various policies aimed at curbing and preventingfurther perpetration of bullying. The aftermath of the 1999 shootingand bullying related incidences prompted Georgia to be the firststate in the United States to pass bullying legislation whichdemanded various schools and learning institutions to implementcharacter education programs aimed at addressing bullying issues (U.SDepartment of Education, 2011). In addition, the state legislatorshave enacted more than 120 bills nationally which are meant toaddress bullying and any other related behavior in various schools.It is equally important to note that, additional twenty-one new billsintended to prevent bullying were approved in the year 2010 (U.SDepartment of Education, 2011).
Theconsistent growth of social networking sites, the introduction ofbetter and advanced communication technologies and the emergence ofother online platforms have played a significant role in thedevelopment of cyberbullying. According to Hinduja & Patchin(2008), cyberbullying refers to a deliberate and repeated harm thatis inflicted on the victims by the use of cell phones, computers orother electronic gadgets. Also, cyberbullying refers to the processin which an individual or a group of individuals intentionallyharasses another person or a group of people through InformationTechnology networks. This can be in the form of communications ormessages aimed at intimidating humiliating, discrediting, controllingor manipulating another person (ComputerBusiness Review (2016).
Accordingto Teensafe (2014), cyberbullying is a frightening practice thatprobably might never go away. This is attributed to the fact thatsocial media is increasingly becoming part and parcel of everyonemore especially the teenagers because of the dynamics in technology.According to NoBullying.com (2015), cyberbullying is one of thegravest dangers lurking in the shadows which is little known to agood number of parents and guardians. The practice is consistent withthe rapid pace in which technology is evolving. On average, most kidsstart to own phones at the age of 11 .6 years (NoBullying.com, 2015).Besides, most parents in the United States have allowed unsupervisedinternet access by their kids as early as eight years (NETWORKWORLD,2013).Exposing kids to personal computers, laptops, mobile phones,tablets and gaming consoles without close supervision from parents’increases their vulnerability to cyberbullying. The various onlinesocial platforms have completely revolutionized the way people fromall parts of the globe interact, communicate or share information.This has facilitated the perpetration of harmful practices such ascyberbullying (Shariff, 2009). The various aspects associated withcyberbullying increases its perpetration thus causing more harm tothe victims. (Slonje,& Smith, 2008). For instance, the physical distance or separation between thetargeted victims and the students who practice bullying poses achallenge in preventing this undesired practice. This is because ofthe difficulties experienced in identifying the perpetrators ofbullying hence hindering personal accountability. This has resultedto a continued practice of more cruel and abusive behavior since theperpetrators always feel that nobody will hold them accountable fortheir ill-motivated actions (Shariff, 2009).
Equallyimportant, the use of technology in cyberbullying enables rapidtransmission of content to a wider audience hence making the practiceto be highly visible, more permanent and persistent (Hinduja &Patchin, 2011).Since cyberbullying is a new phenomenon usuallypracticed off the school set up, it becomes very difficult forvarious learning institutions to effectively propose and implementpolicies on their own without involving different legal authorities(Hinduja & Patchin, 2011). Other online social platforms such asFacebook are becoming so common due to their easy accessibility andusage. Individuals with the motive of bullying have used this socialplatform to write harmful or abusive comments that are meant to hurtand victimize their specific targets (Wanget al 2009).Further, the use of fake profile photos by online users has beenutilized as a tool to facilitate cyberbullying. It is thought thatapproximately 83 million people which is equivalent to 26 % of thetotal population in the United States use counterfeit profilepictures (Teensafe, 2014). The perpetrators of cyberbullying createfake accounts with false information and use it to victimize theirintended targets (NoBullying.com, 2015). Notably, electronic mail isalso recognized to be the third common form of weapon used by thebullies to achieve their ill motive. They do this by sendingharassing, threatening or hurting messages to the victims. Also, theycan attach viruses to emails and send them to their intended victimswhich can result to loss of essential information from their personalcomputers or laptops. Also, the intimidators might use the victims’private and confidential information to send to other people thuspromoting cyberbullying (NoBullying.com, 2015).
Eventhough school bullying has decreased all over the years,cyberbullying is on the rise due to the rapid growth in technology(American School Health Association 2015). As an illustration, astudy conducted among 16,000 students between the year 2006 and 2012,cyberbullying increased from 15% to 21%.In the year 2006, there weremore cases of school bullying (26%) than cyberbullying (15%).However,in the year 2012 school bullying and cyberbullying were almost at thesame bar with percentages of 23% and 21% respectively (AmericanSchool Health Association (2015).Notably, cyberbullying increasedmore for girls from 17% to 27% between 2006 and 2012 while that ofboys decreased from 25% to 18% .This is a clear indication of howschool girls and the female gender are the most targeted andvulnerable victims of cyberbullying.
Further,a research by the American School Health Association (2015) notedthat the sexual minorities were more susceptible and likely to bebullied compared to the heterosexuals. Moreover, only 33% of thevictims affected by cyberbullying opened up about what they weregoing through and told the adults while 29% of them told non-schooladults or parents. Only 17% of them told school adults (AmericanSchool Health Association (2015). Other studies have also revealedthat incidences of cyberbullying are on the rise. According toAmerican Society for the Positive Care of Children (2016), 6% of thestudents in grades 6 to 12 admitted to have been subjected tobullying while 16% of the students in high school in grades 9 to 12also confessed to have been bullied in the previous years.
Anotherresearch conducted by NoBullying.com (2014), a movement againstbullying, established that facilitated communication and easyconnectivity amongst people due to technology has created anothersuitable platform for the perpetrators of bullying to harass andoppress the victims. Today, a good number of victims have desistedfrom physical assaults and have turned to social media platforms,instant messages and electronic mails (NoBullying.com 2014). Thestudy further reveals that as much as cyber bullying doesn’t showany physical signs such as scars and bruises, it doesn’t mean thatthe practice isn’t harmful. According to the statistics released byNoBullying.com (2014), 25% of the teenagers who took part in thestudy admitted that they had gone through persistent and repeatedbullying through the internet or their personal mobile phones. Also,over 52% of the young people reported to have been cyberbullied. Outof the 52% of the young people who admitted to have been subjected tocyber bullying, 33% of them also confessed that the bullies issuedonline threats to either humiliate or hurt them. The study alsoestablished that both cyberbullies and school bullies frequentlyturned to hate speech to victimize their intended targets. Besides,One-tenth of all the high school and middle-class students’confessed that they were subjected to insults. Moreover, over 55% ofthe teenagers who participated in the study use social mediaplatforms and they admitted that they were subjected to bullying atsome point. Further, more than half of the participants acknowledgedthat they never open up and inform their parents or guardianswhenever they fell victims of cyberbullying (NoBullying.com,2014).The statistics also indicated that only one out of every 6parents of the adolescents and teenagers were aware of the intensityand scope associated with cyberbullying.
Eachand every individual is susceptible to bullying. According toeSchoolToday (2014), most people consider bullying to be a normal actwhich is part of their lives However, some students will stronglydetest any form of bullying while a good number of those who are notbrave enough will be victimized. Without doubt, both school bullyingand cyberbullying has detrimental effects to both the onesperpetuating the practice, the victims, witnesses of bullying, aswell as the school where bullying is practiced (Aluede,Adeleke, Omoike & Afen-Akpaida, 2008).
Tobegin with, bullying has a significant negative impact on the schoolwhere it is practiced. Sometimes the incidences of bullying might beon the rise and the school administration hesitates or completelyfails to take the necessary measures to stop any further perpetrationof the act. Bullying affects the entire school climate. It instills alot of tension and fear thus disrupting the whole learning process(Michigan Association of School Administrators, 2014).Such practicealso adversely affects the reputation and public image of the schoolearning it little or no respect from the general public. Furthermore,persistent practice of bullying makes the students feel that theteachers and the school administration don`t care for them hence thereason as to why they cannot take appropriate measures to stop it(Violence Prevention Works! (2016).The students feel insecure andwith time they start hating the school. More significantly, bullyingwithin any learning institution hampers the learning process due tofrequent disruptions caused by the bullies (Violence PreventionWorks! (2016).
Itis also evident that bullying has negative effects on the people orindividuals who witness the execution of the act. According toViolence Prevention Works! (2016), the heinous act instills fear inobservers, they are compelled to develop phobia thinking that theytoo might be victimized by the offenders. Sometimes they feelpowerless to protect the ones being bullied and thereafter feelingguilty for not acting. Whereas, some of them might be tempted toparticipate in harming or hurting the targeted victims (ViolencePrevention Works, 2016)
Notably,students who bully others tend to be so violent, and if they areallowed to continue with the practice, at some point, they may becompelled to engage in other risky and unacceptable behaviors (Black,Weinles & Washington, 2010).For instance, the bullies will initiate frequent fights with otherstudents, vandalize school property, steal or destroy other students’possessions. This will have significant consequences to theirpersonal and school life. There are high chances that they will besuspended from school because of their actions which are against theschool rules and regulations. Also, others may drop out of schoolwhile some might be expelled thus forfeiting their studies (Cornell,Gregory, Huang & Fan, 2013).
Further,students perpetuating bullying in school will engage themselves inalcohol and substance abuse when they become teenagers. They will beaddicted and the habit will be extended to even their adulthood(eSchoolToday, 2014). Alcohol and drug abuse is harmful to theirhealth since it is associated with various liver diseases such ascancer, memory lapse or loss, mental disorders and cardiovasculardiseases (National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014).
Also,the bullies engage themselves in early sexual activities. Thissubstantially increases the possibility of them getting involved inchild sexual abuse as well as making them be more vulnerable to othersexually transmitted diseases (eSchoolToday, 2014).On the same note,students who practice bullying are likely to continue with the sameundesirable practice unto their later stages in life extending it totheir children and spouses (Ttofi& Farrington, 2008).
Additionally,students and individuals who engage in bullying behavior exposethemselves to a higher risk of depression. According to a newresearch conducted by ScienceNordic (2015), perpetrators of bullyingexpose themselves to a risk of developing psychiatric complicationssuch as anxiety disorders, depression and schizophrenia later intheir lives. Other long-term consequences that the bullies might faceinclude decreased occupational attainment and a higher risk ofdeveloping an anti-social personality (Blacket al 2010).
Ontop of that, bullying also has negative effects on the victims.According to BBC NEWS (2014), children and students who are subjectedto bullying while they are young, experience physical and mentalhealth problems even when they get 50 years old. The report furtherindicates that an act bullying subjects the victims into depressionand anxiety. The misery and hopelessness make some of them to havesuicidal thoughts (Blacket al 2010).
Also,the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress (2014), suggeststhat children who get exposed to bullying in their childhood stageexperience difficulties in their physical and mental growth. Theeffects of bullying are devastating and can last the entire lifetimeof the victims (CBS New York (2014).Bullying has substantial effectson the social life of the victims. A good number of them choose tokeep away from the rest of the students because of the fear that theymight be victimized again. They look so miserable, sad and lonely.
Bullyingvictims perform poorly in their academic work. They attain verydismal grades because of the depression that they are subjected towhich affects their levels of concentration in class (Vanderbilt& Augustyn, 2010). Someof the victims lose interest in school and their general studies.They engage themselves in other illegal activities such as alcoholconsumption and drug abuse to seek comfort for the emotional pain andtrauma they are going through (Promises Treatment Centers, 2013).This has dire consequences on their personal life and health.Persistent alcohol consumption and substance abuse result toaddiction and other health complications such as cancer, mentalproblems, and liver-related diseases (Vanderbilt& Augustyn, 2010).
Itis also evident that the students or children who are bullied loseconfidence in themselves. They develop a low self-esteem (MichiganAssociation of School Administrators, 2014).They may also developphysical problems such as severe headaches, sleeping problems andstomach pains.
Summingup, it is essential for the parents’ teachers, students, variousstakeholders in the education sector in coordination with the legalsystems take the necessary actions to ensure that the issue ofbullying is completely dealt with (Blacket al 2010).It is very crucial for the teachers to be knowledgeable andobservant, they should take the issue seriously once detected.Parents should also be keen and observe any changes in theirchildren’ behavior, they should also enlighten their children onthe importance of being sensitive on the people they interact with onvarious social media platforms and also the nature of the informationthey share. More importantly, children should always feel free toshare any incidences of bullying to their teachers or parents(American Psychological Association, 2016).
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