Bullying in Schools:
Some Kids get it from Peers and Adults
by Flowering Spring Tree
Bullying has been around for a very long time. It is prevalent in all areas of society – homes, neighborhoods, schools, churches, clubs, work, sports, and other groups and organizations. Children learn to bully their siblings. When such bullying is not corrected, child bullies expand their bullying to children outside of their families.
Whether bullying by children is overlooked – or encouraged and rewarded – by their parents or others, the child bully learns that when he or she scares, belittles, degrades, humiliates, or injures another, he or she typically gets what is desired. Even worse is when bullies locate and discover others who are similar, grouping into gangs that persecute their targets and victims unmercifully.
Often, children who are bullies grow and develop into adults who remain bullies. The only difference is that adult bullying – whether adult to adult, or adult to child – has become a part of the bully’s personality, unrecognizable as a wrong or harmful behavior to the bully. To the bully, his or her behavior is acceptable, continuing and perhaps escalating it.
In schools, an increasing trend is for children not only to experience bullying from their peers, but by the adults who are charged with their care and well-being. Incredibly, teachers, staff, and administrators who are bullies do not recognize their bullying behavior as such toward children and youth. When an adult yells at, degrades, humiliates, or belittles a child rather than speaking with them in a civil manner, he or she is engaging in bullying. Adults who severely discipline or punish children or youth in schools are engaging in bullying.
Teachers who prevent students from participating in various school activities or opportunities are behaving as bullies toward them. Administrators who refuse to perceive the bullying behaviors of themselves and/or others (such as teachers) toward students are acting as bullies. When a child is seriously hurt at school, and there is no call to the child’s parents about the injury, adults at school are engaging in bullying. When teachers are all too quick to fail a student without providing incentives for progress and/or opportunities for extra credit work, they are also being bullies.
Thus, it is the adults in the immediate world of children who are often acting as catalysts for the child’s bullying behavior. When children experience it, observe it, and are unable to stop it – from adults – it becomes commonplace, tolerated, and accepted in the child’s world. To the child, when adults repeatedly behave as bullies – toward him or her, or others – bullying becomes okay. It is, therefore, often the adults who are giving license for the children to behave badly, just as they – the adults – are doing.
What has happened in our society that adults are so easily able to bully children and get away with it? Is it because so many children are abused and killed at the hands of bullyish parents or others? Is it because our society seems to thrive on viewing and/or participating in more and more violence? Is it because people simply do not know how to understand, appreciate, and respect each other? Or, is it because there are always people who desire to take advantage of others, dominating, intimidating, and overpowering them in whatever possible ways? Or, perhaps these are not the right questions. Possibly there are other more existential questions that should be asked. For example, is violence simply a part of human existence that poisons every part of our society? Is it just a part of the human reality that we experience while living on this earth?
While I do not know the answers to these and so many other possible questions about bullying and why it exists, I do know that it is an ugly part of our society that I dislike and about which I would like to improve. I believe that people should better understand, appreciate, and respect each other – no matter what race, nationality, geographic origin, religion, culture, gender, financial status, sexual orientation, or any other background.
That, however, does not mean that with an increased understanding about people that they should always be able to do what they want – because that could involve bullying and unfairness toward others. What is necessary is coming to an increased perspective about doing what is right in our actions toward others. Needed is a greater understanding of how to properly interact with others in a respectful, understanding, and appreciative manner – including the interactions of adults toward children.
With children and youth spending so much time in schools, institutions of education are their second home. When I send my child to school, I do not wish that he be bullied by his peers – or by adults at school. I send my child to school to be educated, but not to be educated in experiencing, tolerating, and/or accepting bullying by anyone, least of all the adults at school. School teachers and other school employees must reflect upon their own words and actions so that they are not bullying toward children, and instead are respectful, appreciative, and understanding of children, so that they are the proper role models that our children can look up to and emulate.