Healthier Schools, New Mexico
Schools Must Take Steps to Address the Bullying Problem
Schoolyard BullyBullying is a significant problem in America that should not be overlooked or neglected. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, one-third of US students experience bullying, either as a target or perpetrator. It is estimated that 160,000 young students skip one or more school days each month due to a fear of encountering bullies. Most children who are being bullied choose to conceal the fact from parents or teachers, as they believe adult intervention is ineffective and will only lead to more harassment. It is clear that bullying can have a disturbingly negative impact on a child's education.

You may be surprised to learn that school children are not the only victims of vicious bullying. Adult bullying in the workplace is also a major problem and can take the form of sexual harassment, illegal discrimination, physical bullying and verbal assaults. Bullying is a serious form of violence that can physically and emotionally scar victims for years following the incident. The unfortunate reality is that bullying can really obliterate victims' self-confidence.

Some important studies have highlighted the most effective strategies schools can employ to combat bullying. Let's take a close look at one such recent study.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has recently released a report Bulling in Schools: An Overview that highlights effective steps that schools can take to tackle the bullying problem. Through their studies and analyses, the authors of this report make the following recommendations to schools: Offer mentoring programs, provide students community service opportunities, address the difficulties of transitioning from elementary school to middle school and begin prevention programs early.

The report emphasizes the point that schools should closely monitor students' attendance patterns since bullying has been linked to a drop in attendance. The authors make it clear that mentoring should be a major component of every school in America in order to deal with the bullying problem. There should be several adult mentors throughout the school that students can turn to during times of need and distress. Students should also have the opportunity to serve as mentors to other students in order to promote effective and positive interaction. An expansion of community service opportunities and requirements will help students in the same way and also promote the development of leadership skills. The authors highlight the difficulties involved in transitioning from elementary school to middle school. Students can have a difficult time adapting to larger classroom sizes and the greater emphasis on testing. Some students turn to bullying because of new challenges and so the creation of some transition program or bridge may be helpful in addressing the problem.

Bullying is a very serious problem in America. No one deserves to have their self-worth threatened, jeopardized or diminished. Having a support group to turn to is very important for victims of bullying. All students should be engaged in mentoring as well as community service in order to develop leadership skills and the ability to interact positively with others. If schools take aggressive steps to tackle the bullying problem, there is a good chance that workplace bullying will also be reduced over time.

Kristina Edwards is the proud mother of three young boys, and webmaster for Kristina is very concerned about the bullying problem in America and has written extensively on the subject She regularly discusses the matter with her young boys who attend elementary and middle school.

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