Stop Youth Violence and Bullying: A Guide for Parents and Educators
Violence is the use of physical force to harm someone, to damage property, while bullying is intended to cause fear, distress, or harm to the victim. While bullying is the form of violence and often occurs in conjunction with violence, therefore, should not be accepted part of youth behavior.
Types of Youth Violence
Homicide can be defined as the willful killing of another person, whether premeditated or spur of the moment. Generally youth homicide rates are correlated to the number of firearms – in areas or countries with a lower rate of carrying weapons, there tends to be a significantly lower rate of homicide. Statistics show that homicide rates are higher for young males than they are for young females. Around one quarter of homicide crimes committed by youth have victims who are also youths.
Robbery involves taking something of value from someone else by way of force, intimidation or violence. Robbers will often use a weapon, such as a gun, in order to scare their victims into handing over the items of value. This means that there is a correlation between gun ownership and robberies, the higher rate of gun ownership the more frequent robberies tend to be. Although bare in mind that robberies are frequently done with other harmful objects, such as baseball bats, battens or even Tasers.
This is one of the more common types of youth violence and occurs when a person uses or displays a weapon or the victim suffers substantial bodily harm. Firearms are significantly less common in this type of violence; most often offenders use strong or sharp objects to inflict damage on the other person. As with other types of youth violence, male youths are the most likely offenders and victims.
Rape is unwanted sexual interaction by force, against the victims will or where the victim is simply unable to give consent because of physical or mental incapacity. Sexual relations can be considered to be rape when the victim is simply too young to make sensible decisions about their own safety – the age threshold for this varies between states and countries. Girls between the ages of 14 to 18 are at the highest risk of rape.
(Annex from http://injury.research.chop.edu/, Center for Injury research and Prevention)
Types of Bullying
Physical bullying is any unwanted physical contact between the bully and the victim. This is one of the most easily identifiable forms of bullying. Examples include: punching, pushing, shoving, kicking, hazing, inappropriate touching, tickling, headlocks, pinching, school pranks, teasing, fighting, use of available objects as weapons
Emotional bullying is any form of bullying that causes damage to a victim’s psyche and/or emotional well-being. Examples include: spreading malicious rumors about people, keeping certain people out of a “group”, getting certain people to “gang up” on others (could also be considered physical bullying)
making fun of certain people, ignoring people on purpose – silent treatment or ‘Sending to Coventry’ harassment, provocation, pretending the victim is non-existent, saying hurtful sentences (also a form of verbal bullying), belittling,
Verbal bullying is any slanderous statements or accusations that cause the victim undue emotional distress. Examples include: directing foul language at the target, using derogatory terms or deriding the person’s name, commenting negatively on someone’s looks, clothes, body etc. – personal abuse, tormenting, harassment, mocking, teasing, belittling.
According to the website Stop Cyberbullying, “Cyberbullying is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones.This form of bullying can easily go undetected because of lack of parental/authoritative supervision. Because bullies can pose as someone else, it is the most anonymous form of bullying. Cyber-bullying includes, but is not limited to, abuse using e-mail, blogs, instant messaging, text messaging or websites. Many who are bullied in school are likely to be bullied over the Internet, and vice versa.
(Annex from, www.bullyingstatistics.org)
Factors that increase the likelihood of youth violence and bullying
Risk factors within the individual
- poor behavioral control
- attention problems
- history of aggressive behavior
- early involvement with alcohol, drugs and tobacco
- antisocial beliefs and attitudes
- low intelligence and educational achievement
- low commitment to school and school failure
- coming from a single-parent household
- experiencing parental separation or divorce
- exposure to violence in the family.
Risk factors within close relationships (family, friends, intimate partners, and peers)
- poor monitoring and supervision of children by parents
- harsh, lax or inconsistent parental disciplinary practices
- a low level of attachment between parents and children
- low parental involvement in children’s activities
- parental substance abuse or criminality
- low family income
- associating with delinquent peers.
Risk factors within the community and wider society
- low levels of social cohesion within a community;
- gangs and a local supply of guns and illicit drugs;
- an absence of non-violent alternatives for resolving conflicts;
- high income inequality;
- rapid social and demographic changes;
- quality of a country’s governance (its laws and the extent to which they are enforced, as well as policies for education and social protection).
(Annex from WHO -World Health Organization)
Top 5 Ways Educators Can Stop Bullies
Below are five tips to help teachers, administrators and other school personnel prevent bullying from occurring in school, as well as how to respond when it happens. The information comes from the recently re-launched federal website www.StopBullying.gov.
- Create a Safe and Supportive Environment
In general, schools can:
- Establish a culture of inclusion and respect that welcomes all students. Reward students when they show thoughtfulness and respect for peers, adults, and the school. The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Technical Assistance Centercan help.
- Make sure students interact safely. Monitor bullying “hot spots” in and around the building. Students may be at higher risk of bullying in settings where there is little or no adult monitoring or supervision, such as bathrooms, playgrounds, and the cafeteria.
- Enlist the help of all school staff. All staff can keep an eye out for bullying. They also help set the tone at school. Teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, office staff, librarians, school nurses, and others see and influence students every day. Messages reach kids best when they come from many different adults who talk about and show respect and inclusion. Train school staff to prevent bullying.
- Set a tone of respect in the classroom. This means managing student behavior in the classroom well. Well-managed classrooms are the least likely to have bullying.
- Manage Classrooms to Prevent Bullying
Teachers can consider these ways to promote the respect, positive relations, and order that helps prevent bullying in the classroom:
- Create ground rules.
- Develop rules with students so they set their own climate of respect and responsibility.
- Use positive terms, like what to do, rather than what not to do.
- Support school-wide rules.
- Reinforce the rules.
- Be a role model and follow the rules yourself. Show students respect and encourage them to be successful.
- Make expectations clear. Keep your requests simple, direct, and specific.
- Reward good behavior. Try to affirm good behavior four to five times for every one criticism of bad behavior.
- Use one-on-one feedback, and do not publicly reprimand.
- Help students correct their behaviors. Help them understand violating the rules results in consequences: “I know you can stop [negative action] and go back to [positive action]. If you choose to continue, then [consequence].”
Classroom meetings provide a forum for students to talk about school-related issues beyond academics. These meetings can help teachers stay informed about what is going on at school and help students feel safe and supported.
These meetings work best in classrooms where a culture of respect is already established. Classroom meetings are typically short and held on a regular schedule. They can be held in a student’s main classroom, home room, or advisory period.
- Establish ground rules. Kids should feel free to discuss issues without fear. Classroom meetings are not a time to discuss individual conflicts or gossip about others. Reinforce existing classroom rules.
- Start the conversation. Focus on specific topics, such as bullying or respectful behaviors. Meetings can identify and address problems affecting the group as a whole. Stories should be broad and lead to solutions that build trust and respect between students. Use open-ended questions or prompts such as:
- Share an example of a student who helped someone at school this week.
- Without names, share an example of someone who made another student feel bad.
- What did students nearby do? What did you do? Did you want to do something different—why or why not?
- If you could describe the perfect response to the situation what would it be? How hard or easy would it be to do? Why?
- How can adults help?
- End the meeting with a reminder that it is everyone’s job to make school a positive place to learn. Encourage kids to talk to teachers or other trusted adults if they see bullying or are worried about how someone is being treated.
- Follow-up when necessary. Monitor student body language and reactions. If a topic seems to be affecting a student, follow-up with him or her. Know what resources are available to support studentsaffected by bullying.
- Stop Bullying on the Spot
When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time. There are simple steps adults can take to stop bullying on the spot and keep kids safe.
- Intervene immediately. It is ok to get another adult to help.
- Separate the kids involved.
- Make sure everyone is safe.
- Meet any immediate medical or mental health needs.
- Stay calm. Reassure the kids involved, including bystanders.
- Model respectful behavior when you intervene.
Avoid these common mistakes:
- Don’t ignore it. Don’t think kids can work it out without adult help.
- Don’t immediately try to sort out the facts.
- Don’t force other kids to say publicly what they saw.
- Don’t question the children involved in front of other kids.
- Don’t talk to the kids involved together, only separately.
- Don’t make the kids involved apologize or patch up relations on the spot.
Get police help or medical attention immediately if:
- A weapon is involved.
- There are threats of serious physical injury.
- There are threats of hate-motivated violence, such as racism or homophobia.
- There is serious bodily harm.
- There is sexual abuse.
- Anyone is accused of an illegal act, such as robbery or extortion—using force to get money, property, or services.
- Support the kidsinvolved
- Find out What Happened
Get the Facts
- Keep all the involved children separate.
- Get the story from several sources, both adults and kids.
- Listen without blaming.
- Don’t call the act “bullying” while you are trying to understand what happened.
Determine if it’s Bullying
There are many behaviors that look like bullying but require different approaches. It is important to determine whether the situation is bullying or something else.
To determine if this is bullying or something else, consider the following questions:
- What is the history between the kids involved? Have there been past conflicts?
- Is there a power imbalance? Remember that a power imbalance is not limited to physical strength. It is sometimes not easily recognized. If the targeted child feels like there is a power imbalance, there probably is.
- Has this happened before? Is the child worried it will happen again?
- Have the kids dated? There are special responses for teen dating violence.
- Are any of the kids involved with a gang? Gang violence has different interventions.
Remember that it may not matter “who started it.” Some kids who are bullied may be seen as annoying or provoking, but this does not excuse the bullying behavior.
Once you have determined if the situation is bullying, support the kids involved.
- Support the Kids Involved
All kids involved in bullying—whether they are bullied, bully others, or see bullying—can be affected. It is important to support all kids involved to make sure the bullying doesn’t continue and effects can be minimized.
Support Kids Who are Bullied
Listen and focus on the child. Learn what’s been going on and show you want to help.
Assure the child that bullying is not their fault.
Know that kids who are bullied may struggle with talking about it. Consider referring them to a school counselor, psychologist, or other mental health service.
Give advice about what to do. This may involve role-playing and thinking through how the child might react if the bullying occurs again.
Work together to resolve the situation and protect the bullied child. The child, parents, and school or organization may all have valuable input. It may help to:
- Ask the child being bullied what can be done to make him or her feel safe. Remember that changes to routine should be minimized. He or she is not at fault and should not be singled out. For example, consider rearranging classroom or bus seating plans for everyone. If bigger moves are necessary, such as switching classrooms or bus routes, the child who is bullied should not be forced to change.
- Develop a game plan. Maintain open communication between schools, organizations, and parents. Discuss the steps that are taken and the limitations around what can be done based on policies and laws. Remember, the law does not allow school personnelto discuss discipline, consequences, or services given to other children.
Be persistent. Bullying may not end overnight. Commit to making it stop and consistently support the bullied child.
Avoid these mistakes:
- Never tell the child to ignore the bullying.
- Do not blame the child for being bullied. Even if he or she provoked the bullying, no one deserves to be bullied.
- Do not tell the child to physically fight back against the kid who is bullying. It could get the child hurt, suspended, or expelled. Some evidence showed that kids should defend themselves if they are physically hurt.
- Parents should resist the urge to contact the other parents involved. It may make matters worse. School or other officials can act as mediators between parents.
Follow-up. Show a commitment to making bullying stop. Because bullying is behavior that repeats or has the potential to be repeated, it takes consistent effort to ensure that it stops.
Address Bullying Behavior
Parents, school staff, and organizations all have a role to play.
Make sure the child knows what the problem behavior is. Young people who bully must learn their behavior is wrong and harms others.
Show kids that bullying is taken seriously. Calmly tell the child that bullying will not be tolerated. Model respectful behavior when addressing the problem.
Work with the child to understand some of the reasons he or she bullied. For example:
- Sometimes children bully to fit in. These kids can benefit from participating in positive activities. Involvement in sports and clubs can enable them to take leadership roles and make friends without feeling the need to bully.
- Other times kids act out because something else—issues at home, abuse, stress—is going on in their lives. They also may have been bullied. These kids may be in need of additional support, such as mental health services.
Use consequences to teach. Consequences that involve learning or building empathy can help prevent future bullying. School staff should remember to follow the guidelines in their student code of conduct and other policies in developing consequences and assigning discipline. For example, the child who bullied can:
- Lead a class discussion about how to be a good friend.
- Write a story about the effects of bullying or benefits of teamwork.
- Role-play a scenario or make a presentation about the importance of respecting others, the negative effects of gossip, or how to cooperate.
- Do a project about civil rights and bullying.
- Read a book about bullying.
- Make posters for the school about cyberbullying and being smart online.
Involve the kid who bullied in making amends or repairing the situation. The goal is to help them see how their actions affect others. For example, the child can:
- Write a letter apologizing to the student who was bullied.
- Do a good deed for the person who was bullied or for others in your community.
- Clean up, repair, or pay for any property they damaged.
- Avoid strategies that don’t work or have negative consequences.
- Zero tolerance or “three strikes, you’re out” strategies don’t work. Suspending or expelling students who bully does not reduce bullying behavior. Students and teachers may be less likely to report and address bullying if suspension or expulsion is the consequence.
- Conflict resolution and peer mediation don’t work for bullying. Bullying is not a conflict between people of equal power who share equal blame. Facing those who have bullied may further upset kids who have been bullied.
- Group treatment for students who bully doesn’t work. Group members tend to reinforce bullying behavior in each other.
Follow-up. After the bullying issue is resolved, continue finding ways to help the child who bullied to understand how what they do affects other people. For example, praise acts of kindness or talk about what it means to be a good friend.
Support Bystanders Who Witness Bullying
Even if kids are not bullied or bullying others they can be affected by bullying. Many times, when they see bullying, they may not know what to do to stop it. They may not feel safe stepping in in the moment, but there are many other steps they can take.
What Children Should Do if They Are Bullied
There are some things that should tell you that your child is bullied and need to be investigated further: An – A – student rapidly drops to a – C – student; Bruises or cuts that your child blames on other things; A general depressed view of life; A sudden unexplained aversion to wanting to go to school; Getting in trouble for fights that your child swears he or she didn’t start.
If you ignore it, your child could at the least suffer lower self-esteem, poor grades, and at worse, your child could be physically hurt, or could even be killed.Here are some tips what children should do if they are bullied:
- Walk away from the bully.Bullies want to know they have control over your emotions so don’t react with anger or retaliate with physical force. If you walk away, ignore them, or calmly and assertively tell them you’re not interested in what they have to say, you’re demonstrating that they don’t have control over you. If you are bullied online or in text messages you should not reply. It is best for you to show the message to an adult and block any more messages from the sender. Only accept messages from people they know.
- Protect yourself.There are two perspectives on this step. Some people think you should never fight back even if you get hurt. The other way is if you can’t walk away and are being physically hurt, protect yourself so you can get away. You should not fight with a bully or make verbal or written insults, but your safety is the first priority. If the bully physically touches you in any manner, you should very forcefully slap the bullies hand off, and with eye contact and a pointed finger – command loudly “Don’t EVER touch me again!” If it happens again that the bully physically try harms to harms you, kick the bully in the shin, groin, chin, stomach full power, and then to stand over the bully and say “You were warned, next time I won’t be so nice!!” Then again, right to the principal’s office. You might get suspended for the day. But, it will change two people’s lives forever and will be well worth it. You have learned to fight back, and with the confidence gained from the experience, you will most likely never be targeted again as a bully’s victim.
- Report the bullying to a trusted adult.If you don’t report threats and assaults, a bully will often become more and more aggressive. In many cases adults can find ways to help with the problem without letting the bully know it was you who reported them.
- Try to view bullying from a different perspective.The bully is an unhappy, frustrated person who wants to have control over your feelings so that you feel as badly as they do. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Focus on the positive and find the humor. If you’re relaxed enough to recognize the absurdity of a bullying situation, and to comment on it with humor, you’ll likely no longer be an interesting target for a bully (see bellow: fogging techniques).
- Don’t try to control the uncontrollable.Many things in life are beyond our control—including the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to bullies.
- Find support from those who don’t bully. Having trusted people you can turn to for encouragement and support will boost your resilience when being bullied. Reach out to connect with family and real friends (those who don’t participate in bullying) or explore ways of making new friends. There are plenty of people who will love and appreciate you for who you are.
|Sample Fogging Techniques|
Fogging is a technique that can be used by children when they are being verbally teased or taunted in an unpleasant way. It would not be used with physical or group bullying.
The idea with ‘fogging’ is to acknowledge that what the bully says may be true or seem true to him or her, without getting defensive and upset. Getting practically no expected reaction, the bully is often discouraged. To use this technique effectively children commonly need assistance from a teacher or counselor who can help them to think about what they can say or do when they are verbally harassed – all the time remaining calm and self-possessed. Here is an example:
Bully: You have a great big nose
Target: True, it is large
Bully: It looks like a beak
Target: True, it does stand out
Bully: You are the ugliest kid in the school
Target: That’s your opinion
Bully: You are wearing pov shoes
Target: You are not wrong
With growing confidence, the target might start asking the bully to explain. This can come
as a surprise and put the bully on the back foot. Whatever the bully says, the target just listen.
Bully: You are such an idiot.
Target: Why do you think so ? (Wait for the answer)
Bully: Everybody hates you.
Target: That’s interesting. Why do you think that ? (Wait for the answer)
Bully: You are always in the library at lunch time
Target: That’s right. Why does that concern you ? (Wait for an answer)
Bully: All those kids in the library are nerds
Target: It may seem like that to you.
Bully: You have no friends
Target: Well, that’s what you think.
Prevention programs shown to be effective in Violence Prevention include:
- Life skills and social development programs designed to help children and adolescents manage anger, resolve conflict, and develop the necessary social skills to solve problems;
- Schools-based anti-bullying prevention programs.
- Programs that support parents and teach positive parenting skills (such as through a nurse visiting the home);
- Preschool programs that provide children with academic and social skills at an early age;
- Programs that improve school settings, policies, teacher practices, and security measures;
- Reducing access to alcohol through increased taxation and through reductions in sales outlet density;
- Improving the management of drinking environments (e.g. reducing crowding, training bar staff, increasing enforcement of existing licensing legislation);
- Restrictive firearm licensing and purchasing policies;
- Enforced bans on carrying firearms in public;
- Programs to reduce concentrations of poverty through the provision of housing vouchers to help families move out of economically deprived neighbourhoods.