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Leah Delancey

April 5, 2017

CAS138T Kramer

To Win the Bully Battle

Growing up is a difficult task. Before a child even knows what is happening, they are

facing physical changes, added responsibilities, and competitive work. In order to aide them in

this process of growing into an adult, proper emotional support is crucial. However, not all

students at school get this support,and instead, some receive is discouragement. In 2016, more

than one of five American students reported being bullied by their peers at school ("Bullying

Statistics" 2016). With as much as 20% of all students facing encounters involving behavior

characterized by intimidation, teasing, stealing, physical attacks, and inflicted trauma. (Finley

2016), one would think that this is a sufficient percentage to call for immediate national action.

Afterall, throughout history, the focus of laws have become increasingly progressive regarding

the development of child health, education, and mental state. However, there is no federal law in

America that directly protects our children against bullying (Facts About Bullying 2013). The

bullying epidemic has devastating effects to children and their communities and we must combat

this issue by enacting federal legislation that requires school-wide programs that have been

tested and proven to have positive effects on the climate of school environments, such as The

Bullying Prevention Program, in order to lessen bullying on a large scale.

Bullying needs to be addressed, as it affects an alarmingly widespread amount of the

population. The one-fifth of students who are bullied is an especially alarming amount of

students when it is taken into consideration that 64% of children who were bullied did not report
it ("Bullying Statistics" 2016). During the 20092010 school year, about one in four schools

reported that bullying had occurred on a daily or weekly basis ("Bullying Prevention" 2012).

These statistics demonstrate the need for drastic change to decrease bullying incidents.

Not only is there sufficient evidence that bullying is an epidemic in America, but there is

evidence that victims of bullying face health problems from their experiences that can threaten

the safety of themselves and others. Psychologists have found that students who experience

bullying are twice as likely as non-bullied peers to experience negative health effects, such as

headaches and stomachaches ("Bullying Statistics" 2016). But the effects of bullying on an

individual are not limited to stomachaches; the brain of a bullied child is also altered. Victims

experience an overload of stress- activated cortisol which bombards the memory center by

killing nerve cells in the hippocampus, attacking the immune system, and often causing

depression and anxiety. Attacks on a victim deprives can therefore deprive working memory and

impair academic performance (Finley 2016). In 2015, the Center for Disease Control reported

that bullying can lead to higher risk for poor adjustment to school, trouble sleeping, anxiety, and

depression ("Bullying Statistics" 2016). Moreover, students who are bullied sometimes impair

their academic progress by missing school. It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school

every day because of fear of attack or intimidation by their peers ("Bullying Prevention" 2012).

Although important to note that bullying itself does not cause suicide, many teens who commit

suicide experienced bullying and researchers found that bullied children are more likely to think

about suicide and actually attempt suicide (Clark 2013).

Because of this link between bullying and mental disorders, there have been studies on

school shootings that further display extreme consequences of being victimized. School shooters
often have more going on than being bullied at school, such as family and mental health issues.

However, according to the American Psychology Association, New research from the Secret

Service and the U.S. Department of Education on 37 school shootings, including Columbine,

found that almost three-quarters of student shooters felt bullied, threatened, attacked or injured

by others...several shooters reported experiencing long-term and severe bullying and harassment

from their peers, (Crawford 2002). However, these reports of a correlation between bullying

and harm of students are too drastic to ignore, as the reduction of bullying cases could potentially

lessen the danger that students face at school in cases where bullying was the trigger to these

incidents.

When bullying triggers incidents, the individual cases are heartbreaking and call for

improvements in school policy. In one extreme case of bullying just this year, a 13-year-old boy

named Daniel Fitzpatrick from Staten Island, NY, took his own life after being allegedly

tormented by other students. His peers threw balls at him in gym class, called him names, and

humiliated him day after day and this was written about in detail in a suicide note that he left

(Holley 2016). Daniel even went to school officials to seek help, but the advice he received was,

Youll be fine...these things will pass. Daniel never had the chance to see any of these

things pass and he was surely not fine. In response to this tragedy, the Brooklyn/ Queens

spokesperson said, We are reexamining all bullying prevention policies and training.

(Minutaglio 2016). Prevention policies could be more powerful for young children facing

harassment every day, than one might think.

These devastating results of bullying affect a wide variety of people all over America,

and this demonstrates the need for a federally regulated policy on bullying, rather than the 49
differing laws depending on the state in which a students school district lies. Within these laws,

12 states include criminal consequences for bullies, which could mean suspension in school or

jail time, depending on whether or not the bullying is considered harassment (Clark 2013). Five

states have no specific sanctions for bullies, and the state of Montana has no law addressing

bullying at all. The problem with these laws is not only that they lack national cohesion and

standardization, but they also make bullying into a law enforcement issue, rather than an issue

that can be avoided if it is properly addressed before incidents occur. Rather than having laws

revolve around the reaction and punishment aspects of bullying, proactive laws should be set in

place.

Under these differing state laws regarding school action, it is simply required for schools

to set up a policy to stop bullying, which is nothing but a good start. Nancy Willard, who has

worked with states to develop anti-bullying programs, said, the laws are a necessary foundation

because they say we will do something, but just doing something isnt sufficient. (Clark

2013). Perhaps Willard has a point. The first state anti-bullying laws were enacted in 2005 and

lessened bullying rates. However, the reported rates have since remained steady and 28% of

students between the age of 12-18 reported some kind of bullying, as found by the National

Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice (Clark 2013).So, why

cannot these laws decrease the rates of bullying reports? It seems that state legislation does not

hold the proper resources and funds to lessen bullying rates the way that federal legislation can.

Justin Patchin, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center and professor of criminal

justice at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, agrees with this answer. According to Patchin,

None of the state laws offer the resources to implement effective bullying prevention
programs. He goes on to say that, Making a statement is good, but the schools need money to

make the programs work. (Clark 2013). Without the funds to implement a school policy,

bullying will remain an epidemic affecting a steady percent of school children.

The only way to correct this issue is to put in place federal legislation which puts forth a

budget for programs that attack bullying in the most proven effective way, which is changing the

school environment by implementing a school-wide approach. As published by the US

Department of Justice,the overall climate, structure, and environment of the school can thus

contribute to students behavior problems or, at the least, impede any successful resolution of

them. School ecology programs recognize these problems and try to identify and change

conditions in the school that might negatively affect students. (Blueprints for Violence

prevention 2004). Researchers prefer this ecological-systems perspective, which is defined as

being able to adjust multiple conditions in a students life. Some of these conditions include a

caring school community, a responsive classroom, and a bullying prevention unit (Finley 2016).

An effective policy with concentration on the entire school experience is practical, has

been done before, and has been tested with optimistic results. The US Department of Justice

published Blueprints for Violence Prevention that can be applied to the bullying epidemic.

This initiative developed and implemented research-based criteria for evaluating program

effectiveness, observed and review over 600 programs and compared them in order to come up

with model ways to reach a juvenile ("Blueprints for Violence Prevention." 2004). Their findings

show that school ecology programs tend to be most effective when they establish interventions to

create norms or expectations for behavior, a reorganization of classes or grades, interventions to


improve school discipline and management, and interventions to enhance classroom

management and instruction ("Blueprints for Violence Prevention." 2004).

In practice, an effective federally funded strategy would be more specific by requiring

states to put in place a program or policy that is able to focus on the alteration of creating norms

and expectations for behaviors. The Bullying Prevention Program begins its alterations by

facilitating a school wide survey assessing the nature of bullying within the school and follows

up with the needed improved monitoring and planning for parents and staff to assess progress of

implementation ("Blueprints for Violence Prevention." 2004). In the classroom setting, class

rules and regular check ups/ class meetings are involved to ensure proper behavior. Doing this is

powerful because it is proactive nature reduces the positive social rewards that come along with

being a bully, such as support and approval from peers/ bystanders. Violations of rules and

reports of bullying result in sanctions by the school under The Bullying Prevention Program,

including individual interventions and increased monitoring. However, the program focuses on

preventive measures, rather than reactive ones. In Bergen, Norway, BPP was assessed with

participants involving 2,400 students in grades 4 to 7 in 42 schools. Students were followed for

two and a half years. Bullying reports typically decreased by 50 percent or more in frequency.

Participants in the program benefit seeing reductions in student involvement in vandalism,

fighting, and thefts. Several aspects of the social climate showed improvement, including better

overall order and discipline, strengthened relationships, and more positive attitudes toward

school ("Blueprints for Violence Prevention." 2004). The program was replicated in schools in

rural South Carolina school districts, and again the positive results were plentiful. Bullying

decreased in this area by 25%, as opposed to in areas in South Carolina districts that did not
participate, which saw an increase in bullying reports. Misbehavior also decreased in the students

who went through the program, as those who did not go through it had a higher rate of increase

with regard to general delinquency, vandalism, school misbehavior, and punishment for

school-related misbehaviors ("Blueprints for Violence Prevention." 2004).

The issue of bullying in schools should not be as prevalent in America as it is. The

Bullying Prevention Program has shown promising statistics and case results that make it ideal to

enact into schools nation-wide. The program changes the school climate by involving parents,

students, teachers, and staff to make a common anti-bullying understanding into the norm is

crucial. It will keep students safe from the many health and safety threats that arise from this

epidemic. National cohesion and regulation of bullying in schools will be the push that states

need to finally begin decreasing rates of bullying reports that come from the current approach of

an after-the-fact consequence. This alteration is important, not just because of the present state of

our children, but also because the future of our nation may be in the hands of those who are

victims of bullying, or even bullies themselves.


Works Cited

"Blueprints for Violence Prevention." Office of Juvenile Justice and

Delinquency Prevention, July 2004. Web.

<http://www.citationmachine.net/mla/cite-a-website/manual>.

"Bullying Prevention." Committee for Children. Committee for Children, 2012. Web. 04 Apr.

2017. <http://www.cfchildren.org/bullying-prevention/related-articles>.

"Bullying Statistics." National Bullying Prevention Center. Pacer Center, 8 Dec. 2016. Web. 04

Apr. 2017. <http://www.pacer.org/bullying/resources/stats.asp>.

Clark, Maggie. "49 States Now Have Anti-Bullying Laws. How's that Working Out?"

Governing. N.p., 4 Nov. 2013. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

<http://www.governing.com/news/headlines/49-States-Now-Have-Anti-Bullying-Laws-

owsthat-Working-Out.html>.

Crawford, Nicole. "New ways to stop bullying." American Psychological Association. American

Psychological Association , Oct. 2002. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

<http://www.apa.org/monitor/oct02/bullying.aspx>.

"Facts About Bullying." StopBullying.gov. Department of Health and Human Services, 13 Sept.

2013. Web. 04 Apr. 2017. <https://www.stopbullying.gov/media/facts/index.html>.

Finley, Todd. "Research-Backed Approaches to Preventing Bullying." Edutopia. George Lucas

Educational Foundation, 19 Oct. 2016. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

<https://www.edutopia.org/article/research-backed-approaches-bullying-todd-finley>.

Holley, Peter. "A boy who killed himself." The Washington Post. WP Company, 16 Aug. 2016.
Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

<https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/08/16/a-boy-who-killed-

himself-wrote-a-letter-about-bullying-his-struggles-may-have-started-at-home/?utm_term

=.b6f04ff21724>.

Minutaglio, Rose. "Daniel Fitzpatrick, 13, Commits Suicide After Being Bullied."

PEOPLE.com. Time Inc, 13 Aug. 2016. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

<http://people.com/human-interest/daniel-fitzpatrick-13-commits-suicide-after-being-bul

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