There was a time when bullying was considered just a part of growing up. Fathers taught sons how to fight; mothers might try to build the self-esteem of their daughters; older siblings were expected to protect their younger siblings. Occasionally, a parent might go speak to the parent of the child thought to be bullying their child.
Bullying has become more amplified because of electronic devices and social media.
It is not uncommon to scan a newspaper or a news website to find a story about someone being bullied, but it is not always children who are being bullied. Sexual harassment is considered a form of bullying in the workplace. Having a laugh at someone else’s expense can be found at the workplace as well as the playground.
Bullying knows no limits – One child may be bullied because they are perceived as rich, in the eyes of their peers, while another because he is poor and cannot afford the latest trends; one may be bullied because he or she has big ears or a big nose; another may be bullied because they are seen as too smart, while another may be bullied because they are considered dumb.
The list goes on and on. People may use any imperfection to bully another person. It can be adult to child or even child to adult.
Bullying was put in the national spotlight recently when a female high school sophomore in Michigan, considered an outsider by her peers, was jokingly voted to the homecoming court.
The community in West Branch though turned the tables by rallying behind the girl. Local businesses gathered donations so the bullied student Whitney Kropp would have no expenses. West Branch residents showed up in force to the game wearing orange, her favorite color. Even fans of the opposing team wore orange to support her. She received a rousing ovation when she was introduced.
Closer to home, a 13-year-old student at Stillwater Junior High died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at school last week. The cause for his actions are yet to be determined, but bullying is one factor being considered.
Boys are more common to be bullied physically while girls tend to be bullied socially, according to Dr. Claudio V. Cerullo, a 17-year education veteran and writer for www.disabled-world.com.
According to U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, over 150,000 students across the country miss school every day from fear of being bullied.
Local schools have policies regarding bullying.
“Bullying can be pretty tough to call because there are so many ways to do it,” Marlow Superintendent, George Coffman said. “There is face-to-face, internet, texting, second-party, third-party, and more. There is just a lot of different ways. We have to look at it on a case-by-case basis.
“What was the intent? Is it continual harassment or was it a one-time incident?”
Coffman stated the school has adopted the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Association policy on bullying – a no tolerance policy.
“Generally, bullying is reported and investigated,” Coffman said. “We let the site principal handle it first by talking to the parties involved and addressing the issues.”
Marlow schools takes a pro-active approach to prevent bullying in the first place.
“We have programs for our students, and we have had speakers in the past who talk about it,” Coffman said. “And I’ve sent my principals to bullying workshops to recognize the signs of bullying.
Bray-Doyle School District
The Bray-Doyle student handbook simply defines bullying as “(The) acts (bullying, harassment and intimidation) include, but are not limited to: offensive teasing, un-consented communications with another student, taunting, slanderous remarks, pushing, shoving, or hitting others. Acts of this type should be reported to the principal or a teacher.”
It doesn’t just stop there for the district, however.
Bray-Doyle has chosen to adopt the bullying prevention program created by the Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics. Every elementary student at Bray-Doyle school has signed an anti-bullying pledge.
“The Character Counts approach to bullying is to create a school culture in which bullying is not acceptable, and not tolerated. By emphasizing the Six Pillars of Character®, schools send a clear message to student: Bullying or even standing by idly while it happens, is just not something a person of character does,” the Character Counts website says.
The pledge states: “This is for me, my friends today, and my friends tomorrow. I think being mean stinks. I won’t watch someone get picked on because I am a do something person not a do nothing person. I care. I can help change things. I can be a leader. In my world there are no bullies allowed. Bullying is bad, bullying bites, bullying bothers me. I know sticking up for someone is the right thing to do. My name is__ and I won’t stand by, I will stand up.”
Character Counts is also taught in the elementary school to help students develop the Six Pillars of Character®, which include trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.
Bray-Doyle Superintendent David Eads said bullying is dealt with first by the site principals, who decide disciplinary measures. The superintendent gets involved in the process when the principals recommend the matter to him.
Signs of bullying
- Change in their usual route to and from activities
- Not wanting to ride the school bus
- Unusual behavior such as aggression and being unreasonable
- Asking for you to drive them to school instead of walking or riding the school bus
- Your child starts bullying their brothers, sisters, cousins, etc.
- Unexplained cuts bruises, scrapes and bumps
- Feeling too sick for school in the morning, and once school starts they feel better
- Refusing to tell you what is bothering them
- Grades suddenly drop
- Continually lose money or start stealing money out of your wallet or purse
- Clothing, schoolwork, books and backpack destroyed
- Cell phones, iPod, mp3 player or other personal belongings turn up missing
- Coming home from school hungry
- Lack of confidence
- Not eating
- Making excuses for any of the above mentioned
- Worst of all, threats of suicide and actually attempting suicide