Grundy Kendall Regional Office of Education LogoGrundy / Kendall
Regional Office of Education

Christopher D. Mehochko

Regional Superintendent
Morris Office: (815) 941-3247  |  Fax: (815) 942-5384
Yorkville Office: (630) 553-4168  |  Fax: (630) 553-4152

Bullying Myths

Let’s Debunk (BUST) the Myths and Provide Real Facts about Bullying[i]

Let’s look at just the facts, not the myths surrounding bullying.  Bullying can’t be stopped until society recognizes the realities of the bully, the victim, the bystander and the community response.

 

The Act of Bullying…

Myth #1: Bullying is the same thing as conflict.

Busted.Bullying is aggressive behavior that involves an imbalance of power or strength repeated over time.  Conflict involves antagonism between two or more people. Whereas any two people can have a conflict (or a disagreement or a fight), bullying only occurs where there is a power imbalance—where one person has a more difficult time defending himself or herself.  Why is the difference between bullying and conflict important? Conflict resolution or mediation strategies are sometimes misused to solve bullying problems. These strategies can send the message that both parties are “partly right and partly wrong,” or that, “We need to work out the conflict between you.” These messages are not appropriate messages in cases of bullying (or in any situation where someone is being victimized). The appropriate message to the victim should be, “Bullying is wrong and no one deserves to be bullied. We are going to do everything we can to stop it.”

 

Myth #2: Bullying isn’t serious.  It’s just a matter of “kids being kids.”

Busted.Bullying can be extremely serious. Bullying can affect the mental well-being, academic work, and physical health of victims.  Children who are bullied are more likely than other children to have lower self-esteem and higher rates of depression, loneliness, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. They also are more likely to want to avoid attending school and have higher school absenteeism rates. Recent research on the health related effects of bullying indicates that victims of frequent bullying are more likely to experience headaches, sleeping problems, and stomach ailments. Some emotional scars can be long-lasting.  Research suggests that adults who were bullied as children are more likely than their non-bullied peers to be depressed and have low self-esteem as adults.  Bulliersare more likely than other children to be engaged in other antisocial, violent, or troubling behaviors. Bullying can negatively affect bystanders–even if they aren't targetedthemselves.[i]

 

Myth #3: Bullying always includes physical aggression.

Busted.Bullying is when one child regularly and intentionally badgers another child.  It could manifest itself in several different forms: 1) verbal bullying like name-calling, teasing, and using threatening language; 2) relational bullying, where a child is isolated from their peers; 3) physical aggression such as punching, shoving, hitting, and spitting; and 4) cyber-bullying via electronic devices. There are gray areas, however, that are important for parents to understand.  For example, is it bullying when a child is excluded from a game?  Not necessarily.  However, if it is a regularly repeated pattern of behavior where your child is left out, then discussing it with a teacher might shed some light on the situation.

 

Here are the types of harassment students reported in a recent survey:

• 21% said they had been called names, insulted, or made fun of
• 18% reported being the subject of rumors
• 11% said they were pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on
• 6% said they were threatened with harm
• 4% said they were made to do things they didn’t want to do
• 4% said their property was destroyed on purpose[ii]

 

Myth #4: When bullies use homophobic taunts, they're always referring to the victim's sexual orientation.

Busted.Increasingly, bullies taunt other kids by calling them “gay,” even though neither party actually knows what the word means — especially in the younger grades.  This is where parental and social modeling come into effect. Kids hear the word used as a putdown, and they repeat it.  Kids are in fact, often mimicking the language they are exposed to, and the slur is not being used in the sexual connotation.  Even in the later teens, when kids do understand the meaning, it can be used solely as a slur.  Often it is used as the sort of nuclear option as it relates to male-to-male social aggression or put downs because the mere insinuation is enough to cause the social harm intended by the bully.

 

However, a sexually confused child, of any age, may be a more likely target for harassment and bullying.  Although it may be a challenging conversation, parents (with the help and possible presence of a mental health professional) should discuss sexuality and gender with their child.  The child who is struggling with sexuality and gender identity, but is simultaneously receiving support on the home front, may be better equipped to navigate the treacherous waters known as childhood – particularly in a school environment, where 79 percent of reported bullying takes place.  In fact, research by the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University demonstrates that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth with families who accept their sexual orientation are less likely to suffer depression, use drugs, or attempt suicide than youth who are rejected by their families.[iii]

 

Myth # 5: Bullying is a major cause of suicide.

Busted.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the third-leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds, behind traffic accidents and homicide.  While individuals who are bullied are at increased risk for self-harm, it's too simplistic to blame the deaths of victims solely on bullying.  According to the CDC, risk factors for suicide include a family history of suicide, depression or other mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse, a personal loss, easy access to firearms and medication, exposure to the suicidal behavior of others, and isolation. Bullying can be a trigger for suicide, but other underlying factors are usually involved.Interpreting a teenager's suicide as a reaction to bullying ignores the complex emotional problems that American youth face. To understand the complexity of suicidal behavior, society needs to look beyond one factor.[iv]

 

Myth # 6: Bullying ends when you grow up.

Busted.Bullying is negative, mean, repetitive behavior that occurs in a relationship characterized by an imbalance of power. It can happen in a middle school, but it can also happen in an office. According to the Journal of Management Studies, nearly 50 percent of American workers have experienced or witnessed bullying in the workplace, even if they did not recognize it as such. In that study, more than 400 workers in the United States completed an online survey about negative workplace behaviors. They were told that bullying occurs when an individual experiences "at least two negative acts, weekly or more often, for six or more months in situations where targets find it difficult to defend against and stop abuse." The workers reported three types of abuse: 1) verbal abuse (threatening, intimidating, critical and humiliating comments), 2) physical abuse (throwing a paperweight, shoving, pushing, slapping), and 3) sexual abuse (unwanted sexual advances and sexual assault). Columnist Dan Savage's,It Gets Better campaign, is a worthy effort to convince bullied adolescents that their lives will improve. However, anti-bullying programs and legislation focused on schools should--and probably will at some point--extend to adults in the workplace. According to the sponsors of the Healthy Workplace Bill, 80 percent of workplace bullying is legal, and, more shockingly, 72 percent of bullies outrank their targets. [v]

 

The Bully…

Myth #7: Bullies are rejected by their peers and have no friends.

Busted.Lots of people believe that everybody dislikes the class bully.  Research shows that this is not even close to the truth.  In fact, bullies have high status in the classroom and lots of friends.[vi] Particularly during the middle school years, some bullies are actually quite popular among their peers, who perceive the bully as especially “cool.”[vii]As tweeners and teens try out their developmentally appropriate need to be more independent, bullies sometimes enjoy a new kind of notoriety—and admiring classmates might even imitate their “toughness.”

 

Myth #8: Bullies have low self-esteem.

Busted.Just like people have incorrectly assumed that bullies are rejected by peers and have no friends, there is a general belief that such youth have low self-esteem.  This myth has its roots in the widely accepted view that people who bully others must act that way because they think poorly of themselves.  Therewas a self-esteem movement of the 1980s when many people argued that raising self-esteem was the key to improving the outcomes of children with academic and social problems.[viii]Not only has research proven that this idea may not be true, there is also not much evidence in peer research that bullies suffer from low self-esteem—which may be part of the problem.[ix] On the contrary, many studies report that bullies perceive themselves in a positive light, perhaps sometimes displaying inflated self-views, and this high self-esteem can actually encourage bullies to rationalize their bad actions.[x]

 

Myth # 9: My child would never do that.

Busted.Aggression in children is not the central problem; denying it is.  Kids are, well, kids; they’re learning the social rules and must be expected to make some mistakes.  Parental denial, on the other hand, is a powerful and unexplored barrier to reducing bullying in our communities.  When parents are not open to the possibility that their children can be hurtful, they reflexively defend their kids and point fingers at others. Teachers and other parents become reluctant to initiate much-needed interventions, leading to a culture of gossip, fear, and denial.  This can happen in all bullying regardless of whether it is youth or adults who bully.[xi]

 

Myth #10: The bully is always bigger.

Busted.Despite media depictions from the 80s (Biff from Back to the Future), 90s (Nelson from The Simpsons), and 2010’s (Dave Karofsky from Glee), bullies aren’t necessarily large kids who pack a powerful punch. Physical size is not important as bullying is about a power difference.  Bullying is mostly psychological.  In fact, girls report being bullied more than boys, and they are more often victimized by passive aggressive behavior or social aggression over physical harm.[xii]

 

Myth # 11: Bullies are bullies and victims are victims.

Busted.Actually, it is common for kids who are bullied at home by an older sibling or abused by a parent to become bullies themselves at school. Domestic violence and bullying feed each other.Researchers have found that elementary school bullies are more likely than non-bullies to have witnessed domestic violence during their preschool years. According to a 2007 study of bullying in Japan, South Africa and the United States, 72 percent of children who were physically abused by their parents became a bully, a victim of a bully or both. But taking out their frustrations on kids at school doesn't help bullies. Researchers have found that bullies who are bullied themselves have higher rates of depression, anxiety, anger and low self-esteem than kids who are only bullies, only victims or who are not involved in bullying at all.[xiii]In fact, kids are rarely, if ever, one or the other. Social dynamics can turn on a dime. Targets can become self-protecting bullies, and bullies are unseated in startling coups. Besides, a child’s peer culture is complex and in constant flux. You may have been on top in fifth grade, but at your new, bigger middle school, you’re desperate to be included. Roles rotate and hierarchies shift. There is no single profile of a bully, or a target. Everyone is fair game.[xiv]

 

 

The Victim…

Myth #12: Children and youth who are bullied will almost always tell an adult.

Busted.Adults are often unaware of bullying—in part because many children and youth don't report it. Most studies find that only 25%-50% of bullied children talk to an adult about the bullying. Boys and older children are less likely than girls and younger children to tell adults about bullying.  Why are children reluctant to report bullying? They may fear retaliation by the bullier. They also may fear that adults won't take their concernsseriously or will deal inappropriately with thebullying situation.[xv]  Bottom line, unless people feel comfortable reporting bullying AND believe that something positive will come from the report, than they won’t report problems.

 

Myth #13: Being a victim builds character.

Busted.Another misconception is that bullying is a normal part of childhood and adolescence, and that the experience of peer harassment builds character. In contrast to this view, research findings quite clearly show that bullying experiences increase the vulnerabilities of children. For example, we know that children who are passive and socially withdrawn are at heightened risk of getting bullied and that these children become even more withdrawn after incidents of harassment.[xvi]  There is no character building when you are being victimized.  This is a story that has been told in the past to justify bullying.

 

Myth #14: Many childhood victims of harassment become violent as teens.

Busted.Despite movies like “Revenge of the Nerds,” and other such shows, most victims of bullying do not lash out at their tormentors.  They are more likely to suffer in silence than to retaliate.  This is true despite the portrayal of victims lashing out at their tormentors that has been reinforced by the media portrayals of school shooting incidents over the past few years.[xvii]Many victims of bullying experience psychological adjustment problems such as depression and low self-esteem, which may make them inclined to turn inward rather than outward.

 

Myth #15: There is a victim personality.

Busted.Although certain personality characteristics (e.g., the tendency to be shy or withdrawn) may indeed place children at higher risk for being bullied, there are also a host of situational factors (e.g., being a new student in school) and social risk factors (e.g., not having a friend) that increase the likelihood of a child being or continuing to get bullied.  It is these situational factors that explain why there are actually more temporary than chronic victims of bullying.[xviii]  No person is born into victimhood because of genetics, it is often fate and circumstance that may place them in harm’s way for a temporary time period—though it can sometimes continue over a long period of time.

 

Myth #16: You'll know when your child is being bullied.

Busted.Just because your child doesn’t tell you he or she is being bullied doesn’t mean it’s not happening.  In a 2007 study, almost 33% of middle and high school aged kids self-reported that they’d been bullied at school,  and those are just the ones who admitted it.   It can be a silent issue because many kids don’t speak up for a variety of reasons: they think that it will lead to more abuse, they are ashamed, and because of the powerful unwritten social code against “snitching.”If your child does any of the following, look at them as red flags: comes home with torn clothing; starts complaining about going to school; has unexplained bruises, cuts, and scratches; or seems depressed and socially isolated.  If you suspect bullying, keep talking with your child and go to the school for help and input.  Talk with your child’s teacher, a school administrator, or a school counselor to notify them of any problems, ask if they’ve noticed any incidents, and work with them to deal with the problem sooner rather than later.[xix]

 

Myth #17: Boys are more likely to be bullied.

Busted.In a 2007 survey, almost 34 percent of girls reported being bullied, compared with 31 percent of boys. Although boys often bully in a physical way, girls’ style of bullying tends to be more indirect. Girls bully by creating a hostile environment for their victims; they may spread rumors or exclude their targets from activities.

In many ways, this is the easier means of bullying because it doesn’t require a direct contact,and since it is so easy to spread a rumor or make threats, mean-girl bullying can do a lot of damage — without the physical clues for parents to pick up on. If your daughter is acting sad, depressed, and moody and is reluctant to go to school, talk to her about bullying.[xx]

 

The Bystander…

Myth #18: Bullying involves only perpetrators and victims.

Busted.Many parents, teachers, and students view bullying as a problem that is limited to bullies and victims.  Yet, there is quite a  bit of research showing that bullying involves more than the bully and victim.[xxi]For example, bullying incidents are typically public (rather than private) events that have witnesses or bystanders.Studies based on playground observations have found that in most incidents, at least four other peers were present as witnesses, bystanders, assistants to bullies, reinforcers, or defenders of victims.[xxii]One observation study found that in more than 50% of the observed incidents of bullying, peers reinforced bullies by passively watching. In only about 25% of the incidents did witnesses support the victim by directly intervening, distracting, or discouraging the bully.[xxiii]Bullying truly leaves no child behind as every child at some point will be a bystander to bullying behavior and will be negatively impacted because of it.

 

Myth #19: Most children and youth who observe bullying don’t want to get involved.

Busted.The good news is that most children and youththink that bullying is “not cool” and feel that theyshould do something if they see it happen.  In arecent study of tweens, 56% said that they usually either say or dosomething to try to stop bullying that they observeor tell someone who could help. These children andyouth play a critical role in helping stop bullying inschools and communities.[xxiv]

 

The Parents…

Myth #20: Parental attitudes have no effect on bullying.

Busted.In fact, parents can help pave the way for bullying behavior in kids when they don’t teach their children to respect differences in people. Some parents may pay lip service to the idea that all people are equal, but if their actions reveal a different attitude, their kids will pick up on it. If parents talk disparagingly about other groups of people or tell racist, sexist, or homophobic jokes, the message they’re sending is: “All people are not alike, and some are better than others.”Kids are astute observers of human behavior and will pick up on these adult actions and will thus learn that people have more or less value.  So be aware of what you say at home — and how it can translate into aggression in your child at school.[xxv]

 

Myth #21: Bullying is about the kids.

Busted.In fact, it’s parents who can be the biggest bullies of all.  In the schools I work with, teachers tell me that they can manage their classrooms, but it’s the parents who are out of control. Parents replicate the same nerve-racking hierarchies they are so quick to condemn on the playground. They exclude children and parents from parties, playdates, and coffee, or publicly gossip about other people’s children. Until parents hold themselves to the same standards we impose on kids, real change will be impossible.[xxvi]

 

Myth #22: If your child is a victim, call the bully’s parents.

Busted.Parent-to-parent meetings can get nasty.  Parents of victims should probably refrain from contacting bullies' parents. The situation, already fraught with emotion, often gets only more heated when parents leap into the fray.  (However, if parents insist on talking with each other, use a mediator.)Instead, start with the school. Most schools have an anti-bullying policy that outlines the steps for dealing with bullies. Talk with the teacher and principal first and together figure out the next steps.[xxvii]

 

Myth #23: Parents are always their kids' best defender.

Busted.Too often, parents may dismiss their children’s reports of being teased and taunted.  It can be surprising at how adults respond.  They can tell their kids to stop tattling or stop whining.  Teachers and other school leaders can or havedismissed problems, often with tragic results.  The only way to stop bullying is for adults to play an active role and take complaints about bullying seriously. Parents need to set consequences when they see or hear about their own children’s aggression, including bullying among siblings.  Parents have to stop the behavior from the start; they can’t tolerate it at home or with anyone in the family.  As for parents of the victims, explain to your child that there is something wrong with the child who is bullying their kids. Victims are suffering from regular abuse and their self-esteem has been chipped away, while their sense of powerlessness has sky-rocketed.  They need all the reassurance they can get that this isn’t their fault as they didn’t cause the problem.  Make sure your child knows they are not the problem--they’re not damaged. The other kid is.[xxviii]

 

Myth #24: This is a generational problem.

Busted.“We never acted like that when we were their age” is an oft-repeated adult adage that brings to mind a recent episode of the ABC show Modern Family. Claire frets that her daughters will discover her checkered teen history with boys. “Your kids don’t need to know who you were before you had them,” she tells the camera. “They need to know who you wish you were, and they need to try to live up to that person.”  Showing vulnerability to children allows them to see that you are willing to have allows honest communication between youth and adults, instead of making kids feel like they are doing something no one has ever done before.  If adults don’t model self-reflection, how can we expect kids to do the same?[xxix]

 

The School…

Myth #25: Bullying is easy to spot.

Busted.Most bullying occurs in the spaces adults don’t occupy: a raucous locker room, an empty hallway, a playground corner. By early elementary school, kids are adept at stealth nastiness. The idea of the bully as bruiser who steals lunch money and makes a scene is mostly obsolete. By middle school, some research finds that boys and girls engage in equal levels of psychological aggression. And looks can be deceiving: two boys playing in the dirt could be two boys playing—or it could be one boy verbally abusing the other. Even the most compassionate teachers struggle to spot the behavior.  How many times do elementary-school students say things such as, “I tried to tell my teacher about the bully, but she said, ‘Her? No! She’s your friend!’?”  Bullies can be talented chameleons. The most psychologically aggressive individuals are usually the ones who cop angelic poses when adults walk into the room.  These kids possess high social intelligence. The same skills that enable them to hurt their peers are precisely what allow them to manipulate adults and stay under the radar.[xxx]

 

Myth #26: Bullying doesn’t happenat my child’s school.

Busted.Bullying is more common at some schools thanothers; however, it can happen anywhere childrenand youth gather. Studies show that between 15-25% of U.S. students are bullied with somefrequency ("sometimes or more often"), while 15-20% admit that they bully others with somefrequency within a school term. The best way tofind out about bullying at your child’s school is toask children and youth, themselves. One good wayto do this is by administering an anonymous surveyabout where bullying occurs, when it occurs, andhow often it occurs.[xxxi]

 

Myth #27: This is an isolated problem.

Busted.While the recent headlines bring much-needed attention to bullying as a major public-health problem, their horrific nature may also give us permission to separate ourselves and our schools from the discussion, but the towns where these tragic events occurred are not exceptional.  The behavior that led to these suicides can be found in almost any school in this country.  For all the rules, workshops and policies that anti-bullying advocates call for, there’s a powerful weapon against bullying that can be used and modeled for our children: empathy. It doesn’t cost anything, and there is no need to bring any experts to a school in order to use it. All of us—parents, teachers, mentors, big brothers and sisters—can talk with kids about what someone like Asher Brown must have been feeling as he went to school, day after day: as he was tripped down the stairs, had his backpack emptied and its contentsscattered, berated with insults like “fag.”  Ask important questions such as, “What emotions did he feel? Is there anyone at your school who goes through that? What can you do to help that person?” For where there is empathy, there is hope for respect, and the kinds of communities where every child can learn and grow in safety.[xxxii]

 

Myth #28: Bullying is mostly a problemin urban schools.

Busted.Bullying occurs in rural, suburban, and urbancommunities, and among children of every incomelevel, race, and geographic region.[xxxiii]

 

Myth #29: Bullying is more likely to happenon the bus than at school.

Busted.Although bullying does happen on the bus, mostsurveys indicate that bullying is more likely to occur onschool grounds. Common locations for bullying includeplaygrounds, the classroom, the cafeteria, bathrooms,and hallways. A student survey can help determinewhere the hotspots are in any particular school.[xxxiv]

 

Myth #30: Schools bear no clear responsibility for bullying.

Busted.Bullying has become a national issue, so much so that 47 states, including Illinois, have passed anti-bully laws that define bullying and require schools to act when it’s reported.  Even so, some schools still aren’t taking it seriously by enacting a total anti-bullying program.  Unfortunately, this is not just a problem but a crisis, since most bullying happens at school.  Teachers, administrators, and non-certified staff have to take these things seriously.  Bullies needbe to identified so they know they are being watched and supports need to be in place for victims, bystanders, and bullies.  Adults need to model social competencies and parents should check that their kids' school has an anti-bully policy and system in place. If you're unsure what your school’s policy is, talk with the administration or check the school's website. Let the school know that the safety of your child is important to you.[xxxv]

 

The Cyberbully…

Myth #31: Most bullying now happens online.
Busted.Cyber-bullying has received enormous attention since the 2006 suicide of Megan Meier, an eighth-grader who was bullied on MySpace. The suicide of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge near Manhattan in September after his roommate streamed video of a sexual encounter between Clementi and another male student online, also grabbed headlines.   As tragic as these cases are, these high-profile examples should not distract from more traditional, and more prevalent, forms of bullying. Whether battling rumors about their sexual orientation, enduring criticism of their clothes or getting pushed around at recess, kids are bullied offline all the time. While it's hard to stereotype bullying behavior in every school in every town in America, experts agree that at least 25 percent of students across the nation are bullied in traditional ways: hit, shoved, kicked, gossiped about, intimidated or excluded from social groups.  In a recent survey of more than 40,000 U.S. high school students conducted by the Josephson Institute, which focuses on ethics, 47 percent said they were bullied in the past year. But, according to the 2007 book "Cyber Bullying," as few as 10 percent of bullying victims are cyber-bullied. Meanwhile, a study of fifth, eighth and 11th graders in Colorado that same year found that they were more likely to be bullied verbally or physically than online.Of course, with increased access to computers, cellphones and wireless Internet - not to mention the exploding popularity of social media sites - cyber-bullying will be on the rise in the coming years.  For now, however, traditional forms of bullying are more common.[xxxvi]

 

Myth #32: Cyber-bullying is the gateway to other bullying.

Busted.Actually, most bullying starts with face-to-face encounters and later may progress to texting, social media, and YouTube, which ups the harassment and humiliation with even more hurtful, and possibly fatal, results.

All the more reason to stop bullying before it goes viral.  If adults are vigilant and stop the bullying at school, it may never get to the cyber stage.  What if your child is being bullied online? Don’t brush it off.Report it to the school, and if physical threats have been made, get copies of the messages and report them to the police. Also, encourage your child to come to you if he or she sees cyber-bullying happening to another kid.Cyber bullying is on the rise. In a recent study of digital abuse by AP and MTV, 56 percent of teens and young adults ages 14 to 24 reported being bullied through social and digital media—up from 50 percent in 2009, just two years prior.[xxxvii]

 

 

This Will Stop Bullying…

Myth #33: Anti-bullying programs and laws are the most effective response.

Busted.Bullying is an extreme form of a behavior—aggression—that almost every child confronts in different ways. While many kids are targets of bullying, countless more endure demoralizing experiences like teasing, name-calling, shoving, and exclusion—none of which may meet the definition of “bullying.” Character education and social-emotional learning (SEL) curricula lay the groundwork kids need to learn how to treat each other with respect.  Without the opportunity for kids to have the ability to learn, practice and model social competencies, no bullying program will stop bullying.[xxxviii]

 

Myth #34: Peer mediation the answer.

Busted.While peer mediation is a great approach to many classroom disputes and conflicts, it assumes the two parties have equal power and responsibility.  A victim should not be victimized twice, by the bully and by a process, which somehow assigns responsibility for being a victim with her/him.  This is a mixed message for the victim, the bully, and the bystanders.  There can be no compromise: Bullying is always wrong, period, done, finished.[xxxix]

 

Myth #35: Zero tolerance works.

Busted.Research has shown that zero tolerance also is an ineffective approach.  Sending someone home for three days to play Xbox, watch TV, or play just allows them to come back to the same situation they left.  Zero tolerance is a waste of time because it doesn’t change the behavior of a bully.  What really works is a whole-school approach to climate change, which includes supporting victims, empowering bystanders, and assisting bullies to learn better behavior.[xl]

 

Myth #36: We can end bullying.

Can we? The debate rages on.

 

In 2008, a study of school bullying-prevention programs implemented over nearly 25 years found that they changed attitudes and perceptions about bullying, but not bullying behavior. This isn't great news. Victims of bullying don't want to know more about bullying, they want it to stop. 

 

Nonetheless, when schools collect data about bullying and intervene when they observe it, they can change the culture that supports the behavior. Programs such as Steps to Respect, Second Step, Bully-Proofing Your Schooland the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program have proved particularly promising. A 2009 study in the Journal of Educational Psychology found that Steps to Respect, whose Web site says it “teaches elementary students to recognize, refuse, and report bullying, be assertive, and build friendships,” reduced bullying by 31 percent in some schools in Washington state. Parent training, increased playground supervision, effective disciplinary methods, home-and-school communication, classroom management and the use of training videos have also been associated with reductions in bullying. No program can end bullying in every community, and no program has eliminated 100 percent of bullying behaviors. However, when awareness of bullying becomes as much a part of school culture as reverence for athletics or glee club, then America will have a shot at finally stopping it.[xli]

 

Understanding facts versus myths about bullies and victims is important for intervention. The problems of victims and bullies are not the same. Victims of harassment need interventions that help them develop more positive self-views and that teach them not to blame themselves for their experiences with harassment. Interventions for bullies do not need to focus on self-esteem. Rather, bullies need to learn strategies that help them control their anger and their tendency to blame other people for their problems. Peers need to learn that bullying is a whole community problem for which everyone is responsible as there is no such thing as an innocent bystander.

 



[iv]Swearer, Susan M. “Five myths about bullying,” The Washington Post. December 30, 2010.

[v]Swearer, Susan M. “Five myths about bullying,” The Washington Post. December 30, 2010.

[vi]Rodkin, P., Farmer, T., Pearl, R., & Van Acker, R. (2000). “Heterogeneity of popular boys: Antisocial and prosocial configurations.” Developmental Psychology, 36, 14-24.

[vii]Juvonen, J., Graham, S., & Schuster, M. (2003). “Bullying among young adolescents: The strong, the weak, and the troubled.” Pediatrics, 112, 1231-1237.

[viii]Baumeister, R. (1996).  “Should schools try to boost self-esteem? Beware the dark side.” American Educator, 20, 14-19.

[ix]Baumeister, R., Smart, L., &Boden, J. (1996).“Relations of threatened egotism to violence and aggression: The dark side of high self-esteem.” Psychological Review, 103, 5-33.

[x]Menon, M., Tobin, D., Corby, B., Menon, M., Hodges, E., & Perry, D. (2007).“The developmental costs of high self-esteem for antisocial children.” Child Development, 78, 1627-1639.

[xi]Simmons, Rachel, “The Nine Most Common Myths About Bullying,” Newsweek. October 14, 2010.

[xiii]Swearer, Susan M. “Five myths about bullying,” The Washington Post. December 30, 2010.

[xiv]Simmons, Rachel, “The Nine Most Common Myths About Bullying,” Newsweek. October 14, 2010.

[xvi]Schwartz, D., Dodge, K. A., &Coie, J. D. (1993).“The emergence of chronic peer victimization in boys' play groups.” Child Development, 64, 1755-1772.

[xvii] Leary, M., Kowalski, R., Smith, L., &Philllips, S. (2003).  “Teasing, rejection, and violence: Case studies of the school shootings.” Aggressive Behavior, 29, 202-214.

[xviii]Kochenderfer-Ladd, B., & Waldrop, J. (2001).“Chronicity and instability of children’s peer victimization experiences as predictors of loneliness and social satisfaction trajectories.” Child Development, 72, 134-151.

[xxi]Salmivalli, C. (2001).  “Group view on victimization: Empirical findings and their implications.” In J. Juvonen& S. Graham (Eds.), “Peer Harassment in School: The Plight of the Vulnerable and Victimized” (pp. 398-419). New York: Guilford Press.

[xxii]O’Connell, P., Pepler, D. and Craig, W. (1999).“Peer involvement in bullying: insights and challenges for intervention.” Journal of Adolescence, 22, 437 – 452.

[xxiii]O’Connell, P., Pepler, D. and Craig, W. (1999).“Peer involvement in bullying: insights and challenges for intervention.” Journal of Adolescence, 22, 437 – 452.

[xxvi]Simmons, Rachel, “The Nine Most Common Myths About Bullying,” Newsweek. October 14, 2010.

[xxix]Simmons, Rachel, “The Nine Most Common Myths About Bullying,” Newsweek. October 14, 2010.

[xxx]Simmons, Rachel, “The Nine Most Common Myths About Bullying,” Newsweek. October 14, 2010.

[xxxii]Simmons, Rachel, “The Nine Most Common Myths About Bullying,” Newsweek. October 14, 2010.

[xxxvi]Swearer, Susan M. “Five myths about bullying,” The Washington Post. December 30, 2010.

[xxxviii]Simmons, Rachel, “The Nine Most Common Myths About Bullying,” Newsweek. October 14, 2010.

[xli]Swearer, Susan M. “Five myths about bullying,” The Washington Post. December 30, 2010.