Do Schools Really Care About Bullying?
You see it all the time in schools: posters, flyers, etc. that are against bullying. They claim that they make sure bullying is never tolerated, and that everyone feels included no matter what. They all make you think they are the safest and friendliest places, and that all the teachers will listen to what students have to say about their situations. Then you hear the exact opposite: a student is bullied and the school does absolutely nothing to resolve it. The victim’s life seems to spiral downwards while the bully is unaffected.
A recent example of this comes from Howard County, where a middle schooler was made victim of cyberbullying and sexual assault. Even at first, seemingly not much was done. The bully could still see and talk to the victim, an environment that is obviously unhealthy for the victim. However, when pressed for updates on the protection of the victim, the system merely said that they were sorry and would be willing to help transfer the victim to another school. In this case, the perpetrator’s life is truly unaffected, despite the wrongdoings and should-be consequences. Students and parents of the county have taken to social media, calling out the system.
They are not alone. Across the country, anti-bullying programs have been seen as mostly useless. An article by Psychology Today states that these programs either barely decrease and even increase bullying. With as high of a success rate as only 20%, it is understandable that anti-bullying programs are seen as useless. But why is this happening, and why aren’t schools doing more to become less so?
The aforementioned article explains that many factors go into this “failure.” First, schools are encouraging children to report bullying and implanting the idea that words hurt. These actually cause the opposite of what one may expect, as bullies may start more trouble by getting angry at the victim for reporting them. And telling them that words will hurt for life make them more sensitive to bullying, instead of being able to be strong for themselves. On the other hand, in serious cases of bullying, schools actually might already be doing everything they can. Therefore, the requirements for how they address the issues are not enough. This leads many to believe that the schools don’t do anything to help.
So how is bullying supposed to be solved? Even while schools may truly care about their students, it seems as though there is an obstacle out of their control. Clearly, the rules must be changed. There is a lot more to bullying than meets the eye, which means more research and more learning from experience will be crucial. If students are truly to feel safe in their school environments, then the schools must work as one unit to resolve conflicts. A house divided against itself truly cannot stand. Pieces of the system cannot work alone. And as the article states, maybe the solution is not to do more, but to look at things from a different angle.