For this assignment I decided I’d like to find out more about a topic that we hear a lot about in the news these days. That topic is bullying in schools. I’m not sure if others would agree, but I have the sense that bullying is more prevalent in school these days than when I attended school (I’m 38 by the way). Not to say that it hasn’t always existed to some degree, but it seems to be more commonplace now. I have a strong feeling that technological advances make it easier for people to bully now. Cyberbullying is another common term nowadays. With the advent of social media like facebook and twitter so many people have the ability to bully others if they choose to. It doesn’t even have to be face to face. This is definitely an issue that goes beyond the classroom but I’m most interested in finding out what schools are doing about it and what kind of policies have been enacted.
The NEA website has a lot of valuable information about bullying in schools. As I mentioned, I had a strong feeling bullying is quite common but I was surprised to find out how pervasive it is. In schools across America 1 in 3 students report being bullied. (National Education Association, n.d.). After reading articles on the topic it became clear that cyberbullying really is a factor in the amount of bullying we have. With cyberbullying, now bullying can occur around the clock. Compared to in the past, where bullying in many cases was an issue only at school. NEA believes that children can’t learn in a climate of fear, that bullying has a profound impact on student achievement and overall school climate. (National Education Association, n.d). NEA believes in taking a multi-facetted approach to reduce bullying.
- Establish strong antibullying policies and legislation that include definitions of bullying and cyberbullying
- Provide training for all school employees
- Provide professional development materials
- Conduct an annual school climate survey (National Education Association, n.d.)
Going into this research I thought that bullies go after the “different” or “weak”. The reading I did confirmed this. I found that any student can be bullied but students that are looked at as “different” are at a bigger risk. These include, gay, lesbian, LGBT, students with disabilites, immigrants, and high-achieving ethnic minorities. (National Education Association, n.d.). As my goal is to teach elementary school, it’s pertinent to me that bullying begins in elementary school and escalates from there. To me, this was important, because if programs are in place and the correct actions are being taken maybe there can be a meaningful reduction in bullying if we can get to it early. I found out that bullying can lead to lifelong problems for its victims. Obviously, it hurts students self-esteem. Often times, bullied students will bully other students.
It was good to find out that there is a lot of awareness about this issue. The AFT website has a wealth of information about bullying. They have a list of all the statewide laws regarding bullying. Some states even have cyberbullying laws including California, where I live. Penal Code section 528.5 makes it a crime to create fake facebook or email accounts for the purpose of bullying someone. (American Federation of Teachers, n.d.). There have been many policies put in place to try to get a handle on this situation. Every state has an anti-bullying policy, and 49 states have an anti-bullying law. Montana is the only state without anti-bullying legislation. I was glad to find out that the vast majority of all educators are on board with personally trying to stop bullying. An NEA survey found that 98 percent of educators believe it’s their job to intervene when they see bullying happening in their school. (National Education Association. n.d.) This reminded me about what we learned about ITL. It’s great that the educators want to help to reduce bullying, but in order for there to be real change effected with it there needs to be a comprehensive approach taken. As with ITL, it really helps to have everybody on board in order for it to really work. In regards to bullying, I found that once policies are enacted, there needs to be follow through. This includes having clear consequences for behaviors. Also, there should be training for school employees and students.
Something unrelated to bullying that I noticed on the homepage of the AFT website is a call to “Take Action”. They are asking for people to send a letter of support to fix No Child Left Behind (American Federation of Teachers). I thought this was pretty telling that AFT wants to fix NCLB. It certainly doesn’t bode well for NCLB.
I was looking through the UNICEF website and I saw an article on “Girl’s Education and Gender Equality”. I knew there was a disparity in regards to girls and boys education equality but I didn’t realize it was this bad. I was surprised to learn South and West Asia had such a wide gender gap. It said 80 percent of its out-of-school girls are unlikely to ever start school compared to 16 percent of its out-of-school boys. (UNICEF, n.d.). I think it’s a good reminder that our problems with our education system in the U.S. are at least relatively small compared to issues in other parts of the world.
National Education Association (2002-2015) Identify Bullying. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/home/53359.htm
National Education Association (2012) Bullying Prevention in Public Schools. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/Bullying-PreventioninPublicSchools-PolicyBrief.pdf
American Federation of Teachers (2011) Federal and State Activity on Bullying Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.aft.org/federal-and-state-activity-bullying-prevention
National Education Association (2002-2015) NEA’s Bully Free: It Starts With Me. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/home/neabullyfree.html
American Federation of Teachers (n.d.) Homepage. Retrieved from http://www.aft.org/
The United Nations Children’s Fund (n.d.) Girls Education and Gender Equality. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/education/bege_70640.html