Alone on the Playground Part 2: The fight against bullying continues

By EVELYN JACKSON FOR THE E-T,

In continuance of the anti-bullying campaign for this month with the upcoming academic school year approaching,  strategies that unite the parents and school administrators are an effective force against bullying in our school systems in Mississippi.

According to the U. S. Department of Justice, there is reported that on a daily basis approximately over 150,000 children are absent from school due to threats and acts of bullying. The National School Safety Centers adds further data that estimate that there are 2.1 million children identified as bullies in K-12 schools in the United States.

With the surge of school-age suicides, cyber-bullying and the decline in school attendance by victims of bullying, it is not a surprise that this issue is being seen as part of the educational system. Because bullying can occur in the schools as well as online, there is a never ending barrage of psychological injury that can occur.

Question: Can a child trust you to protect them if they confide in you that they are being bullied?

The most frequent occurrences of bullying occur at schools and in any other children-enriched environment. Bullying behavior includes making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose according to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is viewed as aggressive and unwarranted behavior towards others, thus exhibiting power, control and manipulation over those considered “different”.  This type of behavior can be mistakenly called “playing” when actually it is harassment in the cruelest form. When this behavior is left unaddressed with a bully, it is viewed as acceptable to them and it continues.

Question: What clues should I, as an adult or student, be able to identify that an individual is at risk of being a target for bullying?

Children, regardless of their age, can be considered different by their peers. As an adult, regardless if you are a parent, an educator or both, your ability to identify potential bullying triggers in your classroom dictates the atmosphere that is presented to all of your students. Children who are perceived as being different by their peers are at greater risk of being bullied.

This includes children who are overweight; lesbian, gay, or bisexual; children with disabilities; or those who are less popular or do not get along with others.

According to Walden University (2019), educators and individuals can consider children who are overly concerned with their popularity and seek peer approval, those having problems at home, and those who are aggressive or view violence in a positive way are more likely to exhibit bullying behavior. They are not hard to identify because their acts are repetitive. They are not always violent physically.

They can exhibit “nice but nasty” behavior verbally and emotionally towards others.

My grandmother used to call it “throwing the rock and hiding their hand”. The type of bullying strategy that an individual uses determines how readily it is detected by others. Nevertheless, if the observed behavior is not adequately addressed, the bullies can go through K2-12 without any reprimand or recourse causing all manner of emotional havoc on others.

Question: How can we get involved?

The bullying prevention strategies that are most effective are those that involve the entire school community creating a culture of respect, including students, families, administrators, teachers, and staff.  According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, school staff training in a joint venture along with the schools’ communities about bullying prevention has been viewed as an effective anti-bullying strategy in most states. 

A consistent anti-bullying awareness campaign initiated at the beginning of the academic school year that includes posters, flyers, classroom activities on respect of others, anti-bullying themed events are just some of the strategies used throughout the United States in various school settings.

In 2018, Governor Phil Bryant signed the bill for anti-bullying car tags in Mississippi.

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