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Mauricio HerreraMr. HackneyEnglish 102: Rhetoric11 April 2014 What to Do About the Bullying EpidemicJust 50 years ago, a child being teased for being overweight or wearing glasses was a commonality that all kids had to deal with--it was simply a part of growing up. Although recently, there has been a dramatic increase on the violence associated with bullying. Victims are now a danger to themselves and their classmates. Random acts of violence like the Columbine massacre and countless suicides by young people have all been discovered to be responses to bullying. Schools are now working hard to make their environment safe for children and havens from bullying. The bullying triangle phenomenon is ever growing and schools are trying hard to combat it. Many different schools are trying different tactics to combat bullying but all have differing conceptions on what a bully really is. Does making someone feel bad constitute as bullying? Or does bullying only consist of physical violence. The image of bullying is changing rapidly from what schools once knew, and they are trying hard to keep up with it. With all the different definitions of bullying and ideologies on how to handle it, it becomes problematic and can cause a feeling of indifference in the issue with children. What schools need are a clear, concise definition of bullying, with the same ideologies on how to combat it. A schools goal for eradicating bullyingone person exerting their power over another individual in order to make them feel poorly and lesser of themselvesshould be to assess the problem, educate about bullying, and to create rules and enforce those rules strongly. The first thing to understand about bullying is that it is not simply about the victim and the bully. New research has shown that bullying involves three different people or groups of people. The bystander plays a very prominent role within the bullying process. This bullying triangle is further explained in Marian Wildes article for GreatSchools. Wilde explains that [b]ullying most often takes place in front of peers, and that the audience (bystanders) play a vital role because if the audience shows disapproval, bullies are discouraged from continuing. Wilde goes on to give a brief history of anti-bullying programs in schools, and explains that they are relatively new within the United States. Along with this new anti-bullying sentiment, the prevalence of the bystander is extremely new. Because of this new phenomenon, schools are trying to implement certain rules in order to combat bullying using the bystanders as tools. Wilde explains that most children are against bullying, but do not intervene for a wide array of reasons, mostly due to a lack of support or education on the subject. The best plan of action according to Wilde is to empower the bystander by helping them see their peers are against bullying and to educate them into understanding that non-physical intervention can make a huge difference. With this information, it is much easier for schools to deal with a bullying problem. In my experience, the best way to deal with an issue involving children is to include the children without too heavy a hand. The way to do this is to educate the students on why bullying is wrong and how they might act in the event of witnessing bullying. Without an audience or reassurance from their peers, a bully will not continue to torment a victim. The victims role in the bullying triangle also very important; the victim is singled out by the bully as vulnerable due to a lack of social skills, or the ability to speak up and defend themselves, says Gail DAurelio, a child psychotherapist in an article on Sageday. The target is frequently so because of their quiet, sensitive, or anxious personalities. Targets can sometimes be difficult to recognize because they do not speak out or stand up for themselves and often sadly, suffer in silence due to a severe decline in self-esteem, says DAurelio. Authors Abigail McNamee and Mia Mercurios article in childhood education states that victims of bullying are often different physically. Students with physical disabilities have the highest likelihood of being bullied. They also go on to give statistics on the bullies themselves.Most often, bullies become bullies due to environmental factors. The bullies are more likely to have poor relationships with people and their parents, and receive little positive reinforcement. A major factor to the development of a bully is an aggressive environment. Violent videogames, aggressive treatment, negative role models and being rewarded for aggressive behavior are all elements to the development of a bully says McNamee and Mercurio. Bullies are often factors of their environment, so the obvious solution is to stop bullying at the source: their parents. By educating parents and the youth, we are helping breed a new bully free generation, or at the very least very little bullying with more children and parents recognizing it as unacceptable behavior. Despite the nationwide anti-bullying sentiment, there are still opinions that oppose the movement. Child development scholar Tim Gill states in his Guardian article Its a big, bad world that we as a society may be exaggerating the problem. Charity Bullying Online released statistics that nearly 70% of children are bullied and that the most severe issue is name calling. Gill states that by society exaggerating the problem of bullying, we are leaving children less able to learn to look after themselves. He mentions that children are naturally mean toward each other, and that children should learn to deal with it as it helps to develop social skills. By growing up in this environment, children develop an everyday morality says Gill, and that morality helps a child understand how to act in a variety of situations; from knowing when to stand up for themselves and when to back off, to simply knowing when they are not welcome within a certain social situation. Perhaps Gills greatest complaint with the anti-bully movement is that the definitions are so far and wide that the very purpose appears to inflate the figures and that statements like playgrounds being safe from emotional pain are counterproductive. Gills criticisms of anti-bullying organizations very broad definitions of bullying are quite accurate; the majority of definitions of bullying are very, very extensive. For example, in McNamee and Mercurios article, they cite several definitions such as "when a more powerful person hurts, frightens, or intimidates a weaker person on a continual and deliberate basis" and using one's authority, position, or size to undermine, frighten or intimidate another person. These are all encompassing definitions and can cause an issue when dealing with bullying. When a definition is so broad, it is easy to confuse what normal teasing and real malicious bullying is. Even the school I attend has their own definition of bullying found on Joliet Wests website which reads: Bullying is understood as aggressive behavior that: (a) is intended to cause distress or harm, (b) exists in a relationship in which there is an imbalance of power or strength, and (c) may be repeated over time. What schools need is a clear and concise definition that encompasses the elements of all the others while not appearing too widespread. Because the issue of bullying has only now become a big concern, efforts to combat it are very progressive with many different angles being taken by different schools. For instance, a new law implemented in New Jersey requires schools to submit their own self assessments and grade themselves in accordance to the law. Peggy McGlones article on nj.com states that the law requires the education commissioner to develop a grading system and all districts are required to complete a 20 page self-assessment composed of 8 different areas such as bullying and harassment prevention, and staff training. It seems like its working, too. Two-thirds of the nearly 2,500 schools scored a 57 or higher, reports McGlone. What is the correct way to handle a bullying problem anyway? Should all schools adopt the grading process? The website stopbullying.gov is a website devoted to ending bullying and has many tips in order to combat it. Assess Bullying is the first tactic of prevention and is implemented to determine what kind of environment a school is for children. It is proposed that an anonymous survey is an excellent way to do so. The article states Understanding trends and types of bullying can help plan prevention and intervention efforts. Survey suggestions include making sure that the essay is age appropriate, and that the survey is anonymous and is distributed at least once a year to students. The most important aspect of the survey method is that once the survey has been distributed and recorded, the results remain anonymous and the findings are dispersed among students and staff, as well as the parents. The article mentions that [administrators] are prepared to respond to the results of the survey and to have a clear plan for prevention and intervention in place or in development. By doing this, schools have a helpful new perspective on where to start and how to prevent further bullying.Perhaps the most common theme for bullying prevention is to educate about bullying. That is, because it is the most obvious but sometimes tricky to execute. But in order to understand and combat a threat, we must first learn all we can. Educate About Bullying gives tips on how to teach the subject. The article explains Schools dont always need formal programs to help students learn about bullying prevention. Activities schools can use to teach may include presentations, classroom discussions, creative writing, and artistic works and class research projects. By doing this, schools can help students learn exactly what a bully is, and what to do if they ever find themselves within the bullying triangle. In order to ensure that bullying prevention efforts are successful, the article states, all staff need to be trained on what a bully is, what the schools policies and rules are, and how to enforce the rules. Training in doing this can be in the form of a staff meeting or single day training sessions. Learning about bullying is a very key step in prevention.Due to the fact that a great majority of bullies are simply victims of their environment and many are bullied in the home, it is obvious that the parents play a pivotal role in violence prevention. Engage Parents & Youth notes that the school staff can only do so much in order to combat bullying and that parents and the youth have to work together with the staff to prevent it. Statistics show that school administrators are very important to bully prevention but that when parents and children are part of the process it is greatly improved. When all are present in the prevention and intervention process it causes a simple cause and effect reaction. Students feel safer and can focus on learning, parents generally tend to worry less, and ultimately the school climate improves due to students being engaged to talk about and prevent bullying. The article gives advice on how students and parents can contribute. It explains that a beneficial way for students to contribute is to contribute their views and experiences with bullying as well as be involved with their classmates to promote inclusion and respect among one another. Parents can contribute by interacting positively with the school parent teacher association and volunteering to promote a positive school climate. The staff can help out by simply keeping parents informed and making them feel welcome and treating them as partners. Lastly, the article suggests that school safety committees should be placed into schools to complete activities such as developing and enforcing bullying policies and rules, as well as educate the school community from the students to the parents. Many schools now have these programs as well as clubs to advocate for bully prevention. Joliet Wests drug and violence prevention club No Name, is widely popular among students.I sat down with Ms. Deborah Burroughs, director of the No Name club for more than 20 years to discuss bullying at Joliet West. I expressed my belief that a school as big as Joliet West (roughly 3000 students) we dont have too big of a bullying problem. She responded with there is bullying, but not as much as people believe. People tend to glorify the negative and choose not to look at the positives in a school said Burroughs. When I asked about the statistic that 70% of children are victims of bullying she stated that it is most common at the freshman level. The most common form of bullying at the school is cyber bullying. Students do not regularly torment each other physically anymore, Its mostly electronic now she said. Its true, we dont see bullying so much at the upperclassmen level, and more so in a school as big as West. But does the size of the school truly dictate how bad bullying can be in a school? Bullying is very exclusionary these days, you see it in smaller schools a lot more often., Burroughs noted. In a school where everyone knows everyone, it is easy to feel left out if youre not very popular. Ms. Burroughs firmly believes that the plan of action for all schools should be to educate about the severity of bullying and to engage the community as well as eliminate social networking in schools to lower the threat of cyberbullying. By educating we can help create a more positive environment and stop violence within schools. It should be of no surprise that almost all children will encounter a bullying situation in their time at school. With the rise in violence from bullied children in recent times, schools should be doing everything in their power in order to combat and prevent further bullying. Is it possible we could be glorifying the situation and obsessing over a normal part of child development? With the amount of research done and expert opinions, it is hard to argue. Schools clearly benefit from a bully free environment with students doing better in school and helping attribute to a positive school climate. In order to achieve academic bliss schools must complete several objectives. These start with simply adopting a clear concise definition of what a bully is, without using terminology so broad it encompasses every sort of treatment as bullying. Definitions like these can prove to be counterproductive. What an administrator does next is up to personal opinion and is situation based. Some schools may benefit from an anti-bullying self-assessment and rely on receiving numerical values to showcase their efforts, although all school prevention tactics should follow a certain formula. The schools should then make an effort to educate and assess bullying through the use of presentations and anonymous surveys and to engage not only the students and staff, b...