By now, many of us have probably heard about the case of a 68 year old bus monitor in NY being bullied by 4 seven grade boys. It is saddening to know that 4 seven grade boys can harass a senior citizen in such way, as a community we need to find ways to prevent these kinds of situations.
Bullying can be defined as the use of one’s strength or status to intimidate, injure, or humiliate another person of lesser strength or status. Bullying can be categorized as physical, verbal, or social. Physical bullying involves physical injury or threat of injury to someone, while verbal bullying refers to teasing or insulting someone. Social bullying refers to the use of peer rejection or exclusion to humiliate or isolate a victim. Bullying always involves a power imbalance between the bully and the victim (Besag, 1989; Olweus, 1993).
Bullying is increasingly recognized as a serious problem in schools throughout the United States and other countries. Bullying is a behavior often learned in response to stress and/or other life experiences. Some possible causes of this behavior include strained parental relationships, poor academic performance, unsupportive peer networks, and anxiety regarding physical appearance among others. Unfortunately, many bullies are often motivated to abuse others because they have been victims of abusive behavior.
Research shows that bullying can have lasting adverse effects on children. Moreover, bullying has detrimental effects on academic achievement among ethnic minority students. The American Sociological Association and Latino Fox News published a news release on a study using a representative national data set that asked students if they suffered school bullying during the 2001-2002 school year when they were in 10th grade.
The authors compared the grade-point averages of the participants in the study in 9th grade, before suffering bullying, with the results obtained by the same group of students in the 2003-2004 school year, when they were in 12th grade. The most prominent result of the study is the significant negative effect bullying has on the GPAs of high achieving black and Latino students. They found that black students who had obtained a GPA of 3.5 in 9th grade and were bullied in the 10th had a GPA 0.3 points lower in the 12th grade. The authors also reported that the effect of intimidation is even greater in the case of Latinos, since those that had achieved a 3.5 GPA in 9th grade and were bullied the following year, experienced a GPA drop of 0.5 points in 12th grade.
It is obvious that more resources need to be put in place to help protect students from bullying. As parents we need to be alert and observant of our children behaviors and academic progress. This is critical, since victims are often reluctant to report bullying.