Bullying can take many different forms
A 12-year-old boy named Will steps up to the plate for kickball. The pitcher, John, is Will’s classmate, and he motions to the others on his team to move in. It’s clear by the embarrassed look on Will’s face that he already feels defeated because his classmates don’t consider him a good player.
John pitches the ball to Will and Will kicks it, but it is caught right away. John’s team celebrates in the outfield while Will sulks back to the bench. As Will sits down someone says, “Will kicks like a girl. Even his little sister can kick better than him.”
Bullying can take form in a multitude of ways. Though it may not seem like much, teasing, which is what happened to Will a year ago, is one of the most common forms of bullying and is often seen as the “gateway” to more severe bullying, like fighting.
According to Science Daily, a website of science articles, teasing may not be the same as physically inflicting harm, but it does inflict emotional harm, as does spreading rumors, excluding people from games or activities, name-calling or insulting people.
Researchers believe that if this type of behavior can be stopped, it may prevent more serious forms of bullying from happening in the future. As a counselor at a summer recreation program, I see bullying every day. It can really affect the way kids interact, and it needs to be eliminated.
Research from DoSomething.org, the country’s largest nonprofit for young people and social change, shows that 15 percent of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied at school. That’s approximately 160,000 kids across the country missing school each day because they are afraid of how their peers will treat them.
From what I’ve witnessed, girls are more prone to indirect bullying in the form of spreading rumors and excluding others.
For example, Abbey and Zoe are good friends. They go into the art room and sit down next to each other at a small table. When Erica sits down, they whisper to each other. Erica asks what they are saying, but Abbey just answers, “Nothing.” Abbey and Zoe whisper back-and-forth to each other for a minute and move to a table for just the two of them.
Erica continues to sit at the table alone and doesn’t say anything to the two girls the rest of the day. Abbey and Zoe make their craft and every so often look over at Erica and whisper something. Erica notices but doesn’t say a word.
This is bullying.
According to the National School Safety Center, 56 percent of students throughout the country have personally witnessed some type of bulling at school. It was also found that 71 percent of students believe that bullying is a prevalent problem at their school. In addition, the results showed that 90 percent of fourth through eighth grade students report being the victim of a bully.
Teachers can play a large part in making it so that no child is ever afraid to go to school. DoSomething.org also found that over two-thirds of students say that schools respond poorly to bullying and that adult help is infrequent and inefficient. Teachers need to look for all types of bullying and intervene.
Teachers may not be able to make kids like each other, but they need to make sure they respect each other. A lesson on respecting each other is definitely what Will’s classmates need.
Will has a great personality. He plays the oboe, tells great jokes and genuinely cares about his classmates. He isn’t the best at sports, kickball included, something his classmates really care about. This shouldn’t be a reason that Will is teased. The bullies need to be stopped before their teasing and name calling turns into kicking or hitting.
Before Will’s next turn to kick, he informs me that he doesn’t feel good and doesn’t want to play.