Bullying Prevention and Intervention in Schools

National Association of School Psychologists. Communique, October 2014 | Go to article overview

Bullying Prevention and Intervention in Schools


SPECIAL REPORT Bullying

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) supports equal access to education and mental health services for all youth within public, charter, and private schools. Aggression and intimidation violate the right of students to receive equal educational opportunities and subsequently reduce academic engaged time. Failure to address bullying in the school setting perpetuates an environment that is unsafe and not supportive of academic achievement, social-emotional development, and mental health. NASP believes that school psychologists are ethically obligated to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to learn and develop in an environment free from discrimination, harassment, aggression, violence, and abuse.

The U.S. Department of Education has called for a united effort to address and prevent bullying. It takes an entire school community to create an inviting school climate where everyone feels that they belong and are safe. Working together, administrators, teachers, school staff, parents, and students can help stop bullying in schools.

DEFINITION OF BULLYING

Bullying is defined as: (a) the use of force or coercion to negatively affect others; (b) involving an imbalance of social, physical, and/or emotional power; and (c) involving willful and repeated acts of harm. Bullying behaviors may be persistently directed at the target based on a student's actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, physical appearance, sex, or other distinguishing characteristics. Bullying behavior is not limited to children and adolescents and can also occur among the adults in children's lives.

The following types ofbullying are most often seen among children and adolescents:

l Verbal-includes name-calling; insults; making racist, sexist, or homophobic jokes, remarks, or teasing; using sexually suggestive or abusive language; threats of violence; and offensive remarks. This is the most common form ofbullying.

* Physical-includes hitting, kicking, pinching, punching, scratching, spitting, other physical aggression, and damage to or taking someone else's belongings.

* Relational/Social-includes spreading untrue stories about someone, excluding from social groups (social isolation), and being made the subject of malicious rumors.

* Electronic-any type ofbullying that is carried out via an electronic medium such as text messaging, cell phone calls, pictures or video clips via mobile phone cameras, e-mail, chat rooms, social networking sites, and other websites.

CURRENT TRENDS IN BULLYING

Bullying has gained unprecedented national attention in the past years due to multiple child and adolescent suicides linked to bully perpetration. The 2009 youth risk behavior survey (YRBS) indicated that 20% of students had experienced some form ofbullying on school property during the 12 months before the survey (CDC, 2010). Bullying is not a new concern; various forms ofbullying have been prevalent in schools for decades. Cyberbullying or electronic aggression is becoming an emerging public health issue that is creating unique and difficult challenges for school personnel. Although estimates vary, 10/6-40% of youth reported being victims of some form of cyberbullying, and upwards of 20% admitted to cyberbullying others (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010). Researchers have found that 27% of youth who were victims of cyberbullying have also carried a weapon to school (David-Ferdon & Hertz, 2007; Ybarra, DienerWest, & Leaf, 2007).

Bullying is associated with increases in suicide risk among victims ofbullying (Kim, Leventhal, Koh, & Boyce, 2009; Suicide Prevention Resource Center, 2011), as well as increases in depression and other problems associated with suicide (Fekkes, Pipers, & Verloove-Vanhorcik, 2004; Gini & Pozzoli, 2009). Targets of cyberbullying reported higher levels of depression than victims of face-to-face bullying (Wang, Nansel, & Iannotti, 2010). …

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