- Student Attitudes Toward Teasing and Bullying
- Prevalence of Bullying and Harassment Among Students
- Associations Between Bullying and Academic/Social/Emotional Adjustment
- Strategies for Eliminating Bullying
Student Attitudes Toward Teasing and Bullying
- In a survey commissioned by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more eight to fifteen year-olds picked teasing and bullying as "big problems" than those who picked drugs or alcohol, racism, AIDS, or pressure to have sex. More African Americans saw bullying as a big problem for people their age than those who identified racism as a big problem (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2001).
- A survey conducted by Widmeyer Communications for the Health, Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services underscores the "omnipresent fear of physical violence and name-calling" that students age 9-13 feel. The report describes the prevailing view among students that schools "don't get it" when it comes to verbal and emotional bullying, instead simply focusing on physical bullying. (Widmeyer Communications, 2003).
- Students who participated in the HRSA survey report that it is not worth the effort to tell an adult about bullying because bullies are rarely punished severely enough to deter them from future bullying. Students describe "unsympathetic and apathetic teachers and principals" who are "difficult to motivate to take action" and "weak and ineffective penalties and punishments for bullies that allows bullying to flourish" (Widmeyer Communications, 2003).
- Adolescents' opinions about their school staff's attitudes about bullying in rural and suburban public schools were investigated by Harris (2004) and Harris, et al. (2002). Approximately one-quarter of students said that they did not believe that their teachers or administrators were interested in trying to stop bullying, while slightly less than a quarter believed that they were interesting reducing bullying (the rest of the students indicated that they didn't know). Eighty percent of the students in Swearer and Cary's (2003) study of Midwestern middle schoolers thought that the school staff did not know that bullying occurred.
- Oliver, et al. found that many students believed that "teasing is playful" and most (61 percent) felt that bullying can "toughen" a weak student (Oliver, et al., 1994).
- Most Washington state adolescents (57 percent) would not take action if they witnessed another students being bullied or teased (Smyser & Reis, 2002). While between 36 percent (6th graders) to 46 percent (12th graders) of these students said that they would "tell that kid to stop," between one-third and one-fourth of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders said they would "walk away" or "mind their own business." A full 20 percent indicated that they would "stay and watch" (Smyser & Reis, 2002).
- Research has found that only between 4 and 13 percent of middle and high school youth indicated that they would report an incident of bullying to a teacher, administrator, or another school staff member (Bulach et al., 2000; Harris, 2004; Harris et al., 2002; Shakeshaft et al., 1997).
Prevalence of Bullying and Harassment Among Students
- A 2001 study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of over 15,000 public, private, and parochial school students in grades 6-10 reported that almost a third of 6th to 10th graders-5.7 million children nationwide-have experienced some kind of bullying. (That's more than 16 percent of U.S. school children). (Nansel, Overpeck, Pilla, Ruan, Simons-Morton, & Scheidt, 2001)
- Overall, 10 percent of children said they had been bullied by other students, but had not bullied others. Another 6 percent said that they had both been bullied themselves and had bullied other children. Another 13 percent of students said they had bullied other students, but had not been bullied themselves.
- A total of 10.6 percent of the children replied that they had "sometimes" bullied other children, a response category defined as "moderate" bullying. An additional 8.8 percent said they had bullied others once a week or more, defined as "frequent" bullying. Similarly, 8.5 percent said they had been targets of moderate bullying, and 8.4 percent said they were bullied frequently.
- Bullying occurred most frequently in sixth through eighth grade, with little variation between urban, suburban, town, and rural areas; suburban youth were 2-3 percent less likely to bully others. Males were both more likely to bully others and more likely to be victims of bullying than were females. In addition, males were more likely to say they had been bullied physically (being hit, slapped, or pushed), while females more frequently said they were bullied verbally and psychologically (through sexual comments or rumors).
- In a study of bullying, teasing, and sexual harassment in school, the American Association of University Women found that 83% of girls and 79% of boys report having ever experienced harassment at school, with over 1 in 4 students experiencing it "often." 76% of students have experienced non-physical harassment while 58% have experienced physical harassment, with one-third of all students reporting that they experience physical harassment "often or occasionally." 18% of students fear being hurt by someone in their school life "some" or "most" of the time, and less than half (46%) are "never" afraid in school. (American Association of University Women, 2001)
- 81% of middle school students reported engaging in at least one act of bullying in the last 30 days and 8% reported frequently engaging in acts of bullying behavior in the last 30 days (Bosworth, et al., 2004).
Associations Between Bullying and Academic/Social/Emotional Adjustment
Targets of bullying:
- A 2001 study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) found that students who were bullied demonstrated poorer social and emotional adjustment, reporting greater difficulty making friends, poorer relationships with classmates, and greater loneliness. In addition, the study found that fighting, smoking, poorer academic achievement, poorer relationships with classmates and increased loneliness were all positively associated with being bullied. (Nansel, Overpeck, Pilla, Ruan, Simons-Morton, & Scheidt, 2001)
- A study of bullying, teasing, and sexual harassment in school by the American Association of University Women demonstrates a direct link between "hostile hallways" and diminished academic outcomes, self-confidence, attachment to school, and participation in curricular and extracurricular activities, especially among girls. Girls who experienced harassment were twice as likely as boys to feel "less confident" (32% to 16%) and more likely to change behaviors in school and at home because of the experience, including not talking as much in class (30% to 18%) and avoiding the person who harassed them (56% to 24%). (American Association of University Women, 2001)
- A survey conducted by Widmeyer Communications for the Health, Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that students who regularly experience verbal and non-verbal forms of bullying report hurt feelings, low self-esteem, depression, living in fear and torment, poor academic achievement, emotional turmoil, physical abuse, and suicide. (Widmeyer Communications, 2003)
- According to the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) and Counseling and Student Services (CSS), as many as 160,000 children skip school each day because of intimidation by their peers. (Coy, 2001)
- A study that assessed Midwestern kindergarteners at three schools found that these children had greater difficulty adjusting to school and became more school avoidant following their victimization by peers (Kochenderfer & Ladd, 1996). Reis and Saewyc (1999) similarly found that harassed adolescents were more likely to report missing at least one day of school in the past month out of fear of their safety than their non-harassed peers.
- According to Olweus, a prominent Norwegian researcher on bullying, individuals formerly bullied were found to have higher levels of depression and poorer self-esteem at the age of 23 years, despite the fact that, as adults, they were no more harassed or socially isolated than comparison adults. (Olweus, 1994)
Bystanders to bullying:
- Both a 2001 study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and a survey conducted by Widmeyer Communications for the Health, Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that bystanders to bullying suffer from feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, and develop poor coping and problem-solving skills. (Nansel, Overpeck, Pilla, Ruan, Simons-Morton, & Scheidt, 2001; Widmeyer Communications, 2003)
Perpetrators of bullying:
- A 2001 study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) found that students who bully demonstrate poor social and emotional adjustment, social isolation, lack of success in school, and involvement in problem behaviors, such as fighting, drinking alcohol and smoking. Without intervention, note the researchers, bullies often continue on a path of even more extreme violence and abusive behavior and often become involved in crime. (Nansel, Overpeck, Pilla, Ruan, Simons-Morton, & Scheidt, 2001)
- Olweus, a prominent Norwegian researcher on bullying, found former bullies to have a 4-fold increase in criminal behavior at the age of 24 years, with 60% of former bullies having at least 1 conviction and 35% to 40% having 3 or more convictions. (Olweus, 1992)
Strategies for Eliminating Bullying
- Khosropour and Walsh found that, in response to the question, "What do you think should be done about bullying in schools?," the most frequently mentioned strategy among students was "education/discussion" followed by "intervene/get involved in bully's life." Only 5% felt that "nothing can be done about bullying." (Khosropour & Walsh, 2001)
- Though there is limited research on the impact of anti-bullying programs in the U.S., school-based interventions have demonstrated positive outcomes in Norway and England, with reductions in bullying of 30% to 50%. These interventions focused on changes within the school and classroom climate to increase awareness about bullying, increase teacher and parent involvement and supervision, form clear rules and strong social norms against bullying, and provide support and protection for individuals bullied. (Olweus, 1991; Olweus, 1994; Smith, 1997; Sharp & Smith, 1991)
- A survey conducted by Widmeyer Communications for the Health, Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports students' ideas for improved bullying prevention, which include stricter punishments, a stronger security presence, clear rules about what constitutes bullying, more sympathetic teachers and principals, school assemblies with a narrow focus on bullying, and more access to guidance counselors. (Widmeyer Communications, 2003)
- The HRSA study also reports teachers' ideas for improved bullying prevention, which include the use of outside interventionists who are experts at bullying prevention, mandatory parent orientation on bullying, consistent counseling programs in schools, the use of parents and teenagers as volunteers in schools and in the classroom, clearly defined rules and regulations about bullying that are enforced by the administration, teacher participation in monitoring student recess, peer counseling and resolution, access to more guidance counselors and school psychologists, and smaller class sizes. (Widmeyer Communications, 2003)
- According to the HRSA report, practitioners say it is critical to adopt a school-wide approach to bullying prevention that involves all adults: principals, teachers, other school personnel, students and parents. There is agreement that a school-wide approach will only be effective if it "comes from the top" and administrators take a leadership role. (Widmeyer Communications, 2003)
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