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Positive Learning Environment

Introduction to Curbing Bullying

Bullying is an avertible public health problem that can have a devastating effect on the victim. It could have a long-lasting impact on the health of the victim and his academics and social relationships as well.[1] As a matter of fact, any traditional bullying and cyberbullying have been a sole reason for depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and failing in academics.[2] Experts state that though traditional and cyber-bullying seem to be same, they are different in many aspects.[3] One of the main features of interest in cyber-bullying is its anonymity.[4] This gives the people behind a screen an opportunity to take part in such kind of online bullying.[5] Traditional bullying is what one faces one on one at school, colleges, universities or any workplace.[6] Cyberbullying could be done at any point in time, whether day or night. For children who are the bullies, the Internet is just a leeway of the schoolyard. They continue that victimization after the school as well.[7]

It is for this reason that why this social evil is been taken seriously and have become a major issue of the victims' estrangement, had led to many neurological disorders and difficulty in adapting to the social and academic life.[8] Hence it is the view of many psychologists and researchers that bullying must be understood in an ecological context.[9] This means that the schools, teachers, school psychologists must develop an environment to prevent this vile practice. This could be done by school providing such programmes wherein the teachers and school counsellors could intervene and devise a plan that is adequate for all. Teachers are the ones who are in constant contact with these students and their peer to peer conflicts and their interaction in all.[10]

Role of Teachers

Teachers have a crucial in the upbringing of the students as they tend to spend much of time with them in the classrooms.[11] Teachers are usually the perpetrators when the bullying happens and the first adult that the victim contacts too.[12] Reaction to such things is a subjective part. Teachers can be intervening or just observe the situation, not intervene and ignore such thing or consider it to be very inconsequential.[13] Students often presume teachers to be their someone who is just like their parents and look forward to them at the time of crisis like these.[14] It is however seen that teachers do not get involved in such cases and do not consider these things to be of any importance. They do not understand the predicament of this situation and hence let it go.[15]

There are three categories which have been categorized for teachers in dealing with victims and the bullies. The first step to this is making a list of authoritarian punitive strategies like threat, discipline and expulsion. Among these, the most used by the teachers should be adopted.[16] The second step is individual assistance to the victims and the bullies. They are to be supported emotionally and hence are made to have a fellow feeling with one another.[17] The last mechanism is indulging into supportive-cooperative intervention which is about having students co-operate each other in the class and to set standards with the support of parents and other professionals at school or in the classroom.

It is often seen that teachers respond to such bullying situation is more related to relational and professional variables like his attitude, his perception of value, beliefs and his knowledge and the level of companionship he holds; his relational variables like the kind of relationship he has with his students; and the situational variables like the climate of the school, the likeliness of the school etc.[18] out of all these, a teachers efficiency is worth taken notice off. It is a decided fact that ones who are more efficacy are the ones who are more involved in bullying, be it directly or indirectly.[19] This had resulted in the success of the preventive measures been taken by the school and the teachers as they are more able to connect with the problem of the victim.[20]

There are some ways how a teacher can curb bullying in her own classroom-

  1. Intervention

In a research conducted in 1994, it was seen that 84% of teachers were seen to have intervened when bullying happened around them as compared to the data where students reported only 35% of teachers were active participants in intervening bullying.[21] Intervention is a way when teachers can be actually present around children and observe their activities. This mechanism tends to lessen the power of bullies to bully the victims.

There have been evident cases where it is seen that the teachers weren't that active enough to indulge in such pro-active interventions. Only one-third of the teachers used to set a time table for having classroom discussions on bullying.[22] Also, it is seen that the teachers used to only intrude into the bullying matter when they used to see the videotape of the classroom. Such kinds made a total of 18% of teachers only.[23]

  1. Modality of Awareness

It is the view of some authors, that a mock set up should be done in each classroom by the management of the school. The teachers should be put into situations and asked how shall they deal with such scenarios. With this, the teachers are then made aware of the different mechanism through which they could be able to help the victims. Like they are asked to share their opinions on how shall they deal with the situation of bullying if they see one and how shall they handle the situation if any students report them any of such incident.[24]

  1. Goals of Present Study

It is seen that teachers who are unable to intervene in the bullying episode, they face this issue because they are unaware or hold less knowledge of bullying.[25] Therefore it is established that the teachers and the schools must indulge into bullying awareness programmes and also employ school psychologists or professionals who have an experience in such things so that students feel more comfortable in talking to them and discuss their issues.

Role of Schools

For schools too, many of the problems could be resolved if the management of the school is strict enough. If the management is strict the staff and especially the teachers themselves to become strict. Intervention is the best way to stop such kind of practice if one view from the school's perspective. However, it is different from the teacher's intervention, as the teachers intervene amongst the victims and the bullies and try to sort things out. But in-school intervention, the management of the school intervene with the teacher's work and takes a report from them on the development of the strategies.

It is also seen that without the help of families and the communities, this feature does not waive off.[26] Parents have a huge role to play here. If the family atmosphere is adequate enough for the child, then he shall learn things what is shown to him. For example, if a child is succumbing to domestic violence at his home, he shall learn to be bossy and a bully. With time he transforms into all kind of negative character which society condemns. However, if he provided a loving atmosphere at his place, he shall learn to respect others and their privacy and accept others the way they are. Hence it is essential to provide an adequate atmosphere for the children starting from a young age.

The only way to curb this phenomenon is to change the mindset of the people. This means that the school and the staff need to have a philosophical shift on how will they interpret this and how shall they deal with this coercive behaviour of students.[27] It is seen that the schools have formulated a package program to fight against bullying however, they do not have any support of the teachers.[28] Till now there have been only 2 successful bullying programs-

  1. Bully Busters- A Drama

This was an anti-bullying program which was devised by the counselling and drama staff of the middle school.[29] In this, they made surveys on the teachers and the students and scrutinize their perceptions. To their astonishment, many of the teachers were unaware of this term and did not what happens in this. Students had an active view as somewhere or the other they faced this. So to give a social message to the school, the drama teacher wrote a play called Bullybusters to teach the students and the teachers how to deal with it.

This play was first showed to the sixth graders and then showed to the elementary schools. the only feature of interest here was the actors were the students of the school only. At the end of the play, students shared their own experiences and showed their outlook on how they felt and what they could do to make others stop this. This program was followed by the principal’s speech who forcibly showed her zero tolerance towards bullying and warns the entire school that if found guilty will be expelled from the school. This play not only helped the victims in the crowd but the teachers as well who were unaware of it and handed them over the supporting material for their reference. The teachers were instructed to take student’s feedback in their class sessions. The students were made to sign an anti-bullying pledge. At the final stage of it, the school administration and the teachers provided newsletters and outlining steps to the parents of the children so that they could also be a part of this good cause.

The results of this play showed that at least 20% reduction has been made in bullying. Teachers now after being aware, had more number of students reporting any sort of bullying.[30] 

  1. Elementary School Model

A survey and a study were done in an elementary school using a program that was developed and not some pre-packaged model.[31] The vision of this program was to spread awareness amongst the students, develop the skills of the teachers and lookout for a safe school atmosphere. The panel of this program were some teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, school counsellors and principal of the school. 

They started with need assessments and conducted focus groups amongst students. The report of it was handed to the teachers and hence they, in collaboration with the committee was able to make a detailed plan on how to deal with student behaviour and the climate of the school. Teachers showed that any behaviour must have 5 fundamental values like respect, responsibility, honesty, readiness to learn and personal best. This was inculcated through a character education program.

The staff of the school made an alteration in their manner of teaching like, during lessons, they would adopt the practice of admiring their fellow classmates. They would also follow the practice of positive reinforcement where each student was asked to comment on two lines in a positive manner for every negative comment. Teachers themselves attended a 20-hour education program where they were taught new methods of teaching and how to curb this bullying. 

The results showed a vast number of reduction of it and also a dip in the aggression level of the children. In totality, they saw a reduction in verbal bullyings like name-calling and teasing.

Conclusion on Curbing Bullying

As for Ryan condition, so he needs to have special attention at school by his teachers and the school counsellor. The teachers need to be more involved in his day to day activities and see how others are reacting to him. After finding the problem, they should have some sessions with him and try and understand his outlook and why he thinks he faces such kind of behaviour from others. 

After that, he needs to kept in front of those bullies and made to have one on one talk with them. Parents role here too becomes very crucial. Not only of Ryan but the parents of the bullies too. They must be informed of their ward's behaviour and should be asked to look after their home environment. Ryan and the others must be given private sessions where the Orpinas (2003) tool of positive rehabilitation must be done in order to stop the bullying against Ryan.

The school must also conduct a special morning assembly where this new method of hygiene should be made known to everyone and make them alert that there is nothing wrong in keeping one safe from the possibility of being infected as it has now become a part of all our lives. This way Ryan shall feel socially accepted and others too would understand that there is nothing awkward in the way Ryan is taking care of himself.

References for Curbing Bullying

Arseneault, L., Walsh, E., Trzesniewski, K., Newcombe, R., Caspi, A., & Moffitt, T. E. (2006). Bullying victimization uniquely contributes to adjustment problems in young children: A nationally representative cohort study. Paediatrics, 118(1), 130–138.

Sjurso, I. R., Fandream, H., & Roland, E. (2016). Emotional problems in traditional and cyber victimization. Journal of School Violence, 15(1), 114–131.

Katzer, C., Fetchenhauer, D., & Belschak, F. (2009). Cyberbullying: Who are the victims?: A comparison of victimization in internet chatrooms and victimization in school. Journal of Media Psychology, 21, 25–36.

Kowalski, R. M., & Limber, S. P. (2007). Electronic bullying among middle school students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41, S22–S30.

Erdur-Baker, O¨. (2010). Cyberbullying and its correlation to traditional bullying, gender and frequent and risky usage of internet-mediated communication tools. New Media and Society, 12, 109–125.

Nansel, T. R., Ovepeck, M. D., Pilla, R. S., Ruan, W. J., Simmo-Morton, B., & Scheidt, P. (2001). Bullying behaviour among US youth: Prevalence and association with psychosocial adjustment. Journal of the American Medical Association, 285, 2094–2100.

Ybarra, M. L., Diener-West, M., & Leaf, P. J. (2007). Examining the overlap in Internet harassment and school bullying: Implications for school intervention. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41, 42–50. 

Gladstone, G.L., Parker, G.B., & Malhi, G.S. (2006). Do bullied children become anxious and depressed adults? A cross-sectional investigation of the correlates of bullying and anxious depression. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 194, 201–208.

Card, N.A., Isaacs, J., & Hodges, E.V.E. (2008). Multiple contextual levels of risk for peer victimization: A review with implications for prevention and intervention efforts. New York: Springer.

Kochenderfer-Ladd, B., & Pelletier, M.E. (2008). Teachers’ views and beliefs about bullying: Influences on classroom management strategies and students’ coping with peer victimization. Journal of School Psychology, 46, 431–453.

Yoon, J., and Bauman, S. (2014). Teachers: a critical but overlooked component of bullying prevention and intervention. Theory Pract. 53, 308–314.

Wachs, S., Hess, M., Scheithauer, H., and Schubarth, W. (2016). “Bullying in schools” in Recognizing, intervening, preventing. Stuttgart, Germany: Kohlhammer.

Rigby, K. (2014). How teachers address cases of bullying in schools: a comparison of five reactive approaches. Educ. Psychol. Pract. 30, 409–419.

Crothers, L. M., and Kolbert, J. B. (2008). Comparing middle school teachers’ and students’ views on bullying and anti-bullying interventions. J. Sch. Violence 3, 17–32.

Menesini, E., and Salmivalli, C. (2017). Bullying in schools: the state of knowledge and effective interventions. Psychol. Health Med, 22, 240–253.

Burger, C., Strohmeier, D., Spröber, N., Bauman, S., and Rigby, K. (2015). How teachers respond to school bullying: an examination of self-reported intervention strategy use, moderator effects, and concurrent use of multiple strategies. Teach. Teach. Educ. 51, 191–202.

Menesini, E., and Salmivalli, C. (2017). Bullying in schools: the state of knowledge and effective interventions. Psychol. Health Med. 22, 240–253.

Troop-Gordon, W., and Ladd, G. V. (2015). Teachers’ victimization-related beliefs and strategies: associations with students’aggressive behaviour and peer victimization. J. Abnorm. Child Psychol. 43, 45–60.

Fischer, S. M., and Bilz, L. (2019). Teachers’ self-efficacy in bullying interventions and their probability of intervention. Psychol. Sch. 56, 751–764

Hawley, P. H., and Williford, A. (2015). Articulating the theory of bullying intervention programs: views from social psychology, social work, and organizational science. J. Appl. Dev. Psychol. 37, 3–15.

Pepler, D.J., Craig, W.M., Ziegler, S., & Charach, A. (1994). An evaluation of an anti-bullying intervention in Toronto schools. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 12, 95–110.

Dake, J.A., Price, J.H., Telljohann, S.K., & Funk, J.B. (2003). Teacher perceptions and practices regarding school bullying prevention. Journal of School Health, 73, 347–355

Atlas, R.S., & Pepler, D.J. (1998). Observations of bullying in the classroom. Journal of Educational Research, 92, 86–99.

Bradshaw, C.P., Sawyer, A.L., & O’Brennan, L.M. (2007). Bullying and peer victimization at school: Perceptual differences between students and school staff. School Psychology Review, 36(3), 361–382

Hirschstein, M.K., van Schoiack Edstrom, L., Frey, K.S., Snell, J.L., & MacKenzie, E.P. (2007). Walking the talk in bullying prevention: Teacher implementation variables related to the initial impact of the steps to respect program. School Psychology Review, 36(1), 3–21.

Espelage, D. L., & Swearer, S. M. (2003). Research on school bullying and victimization: What have we learned and where do we go from here? School Psychology Review, 32, 365-384.

Clarke, E. A., & Kiselica, M. S. (1997). A systemic counselling approach to the problem of bullying. Elementary School Guidance and Counseling, 31, 310-326

Orpinas, P., Horne, A. M., & Staniszewski, D. (2003). School bullying: Changing the problem by changing the school. School Psychology Review, 32, 431-444.

Beale, A. V., & Scott, P. C. (2001). Bullybusters: Using drama to empower students to take a stand against bullying behaviour. Professional School Counseling, 4, 300-306.

[1] Arseneault, L., Walsh, E., Trzesniewski, K., Newcombe, R., Caspi, A., & Moffitt, T. E. (2006). Bullying victimization uniquely contributes to adjustment problems in young children: A nationally representative cohort study. Paediatrics, 118(1), 130–138.

[2] Sjurso, I. R., Fandream, H., & Roland, E. (2016). Emotional problems in traditional and cyber victimization. Journal of School Violence, 15(1), 114–131.

[3] Katzer, C., Fetchenhauer, D., & Belschak, F. (2009). Cyberbullying: Who are the victims?: A comparison of victimization in internet chatrooms and victimization in school. Journal of Media Psychology, 21, 25–36.

[4] Kowalski, R. M., & Limber, S. P. (2007). Electronic bullying among middle school students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41, S22–S30.

[5] Erdur-Baker, O¨. (2010). Cyberbullying and its correlation to traditional bullying, gender and frequent and risky usage of internet-mediated communication tools. New Media and Society, 12, 109–125.

[6] Nansel, T. R., Ovepeck, M. D., Pilla, R. S., Ruan, W. J., Simmo-Morton, B., & Scheidt, P. (2001). Bullying behaviour among US youth: Prevalence and association with psychosocial adjustment. Journal of the American Medical Association, 285, 2094–2100.

[7] Ybarra, M. L., Diener-West, M., & Leaf, P. J. (2007). Examining the overlap in Internet harassment and school bullying: Implications for school intervention. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41, 42–50. 

[8] Gladstone, G.L., Parker, G.B., & Malhi, G.S. (2006). Do bully children to become anxious and depressed adults? A cross-sectional investigation of the correlates of bullying and anxious depression. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 194, 201–208.

[9] Card, N.A., Isaacs, J., & Hodges, E.V.E. (2008). Multiple contextual levels of risk for peer victimization: A review with implications for prevention and intervention efforts. New York: Springer.

[10] Kochenderfer-Ladd, B., & Pelletier, M.E. (2008). Teachers’ views and beliefs about bullying: Influences on classroom management strategies and students’ coping with peer victimization. Journal of School Psychology, 46, 431–453.

[11] Yoon, J., and Bauman, S. (2014). Teachers: a critical but overlooked component of bullying prevention and intervention. Theory Pract. 53, 308–314.

[12] Wachs, S., Hess, M., Scheithauer, H., and Schubarth, W. (2016). “Bullying in schools” in Recognizing, intervening, preventing. Stuttgart, Germany: Kohlhammer.

[13] Rigby, K. (2014). How teachers address cases of bullying in schools: a comparison of five reactive approaches. Educ. Psychol. Pract. 30, 409–419.

[14] Crothers, L. M., and Kolbert, J. B. (2008). Comparing middle school teachers’ and students’ views on bullying and anti-bullying interventions. J. Sch. Violence 3, 17–32.

[15] Menesini, E., and Salmivalli, C. (2017). Bullying in schools: the state of knowledge and effective interventions. Psychol. Health Med, 22, 240–253.

[16] Burger, C., Strohmeier, D., Spröber, N., Bauman, S., and Rigby, K. (2015). How teachers respond to school bullying: an examination of self-reported intervention strategy use, moderator effects, and concurrent use of multiple strategies. Teach. Teach. Educ. 51, 191–202.

[17] Menesini, E., and Salmivalli, C. (2017). Bullying in schools: the state of knowledge and effective interventions. Psychol. Health Med. 22, 240–253.

[18] Troop-Gordon, W., and Ladd, G. V. (2015). Teachers’ victimization-related beliefs and strategies: associations with students’aggressive behaviour and peer victimization. J. Abnorm. Child Psychol. 43, 45–60.

[19] Fischer, S. M., and Bilz, L. (2019). Teachers’ self-efficacy in bullying interventions and their probability of intervention. Psychol. Sch. 56, 751–764

[20] Hawley, P. H., and Williford, A. (2015). Articulating the theory of bullying intervention programs: views from social psychology, social work, and organizational science. J. Appl. Dev. Psychol. 37, 3–15.

[21] Pepler, D.J., Craig, W.M., Ziegler, S., & Charach, A. (1994). An evaluation of an anti-bullying intervention in Toronto schools. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 12, 95–110.

[22] Dake, J.A., Price, J.H., Telljohann, S.K., & Funk, J.B. (2003). Teacher perceptions and practices regarding school bullying prevention. Journal of School Health, 73, 347–355

[23] Atlas, R.S., & Pepler, D.J. (1998). Observations of bullying in the classroom. Journal of Educational Research, 92, 86–99.

[24] Bradshaw, C.P., Sawyer, A.L., & O’Brennan, L.M. (2007). Bullying and peer victimization at school: Perceptual differences between students and school staff. School Psychology Review, 36(3), 361–382

[25] Hirschstein, M.K., van Schoiack Edstrom, L., Frey, K.S., Snell, J.L., & MacKenzie, E.P. (2007). Walking the talk in bullying prevention: Teacher implementation variables related to the initial impact of the steps to respect program. School Psychology Review, 36(1), 3–21.

[26] Espelage, D. L., & Swearer, S. M. (2003). Research on school bullying and victimization: What have we learned and where do we go from here? School Psychology Review, 32, 365-384.

[27] Clarke, E. A., & Kiselica, M. S. (1997). A systemic counselling approach to the problem of bullying. Elementary School Guidance and Counseling, 31, 310-326

[28] Orpinas, P., Horne, A. M., & Staniszewski, D. (2003). School bullying: Changing the problem by changing the school. School Psychology Review, 32, 431-444.

[29] Beale, A. V., & Scott, P. C. (2001). Bullybusters: Using drama to empower students to take a stand against bullying behaviour. Professional School Counseling, 4, 300-306.

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