Roles in Bullying

Note: This post was written by a guest author.


Welcome to the third installment of our series on bullying. Again, much appreciation goes out to Jackie Summers, Bullying Prevention Specialist for Akron Public Schools, for the insightful dialogue below:

What are the roles of peers with the bullied/bully?

Most kids think it’s not cool to bully, and feel they should do something if they see it happen.  In a recent study of tweens (Brown, Birch & Kancherla, 2005), 56% said that they usually either say or do something to try to stop bullying that they observe or tell someone who could help.

Knowing that there are bystanders present, is a bully deterred by them?

Though bystanders can play a significant role in stopping bullying, we should not expect children to have to deal with bullies on their own.  This behavior is a form of peer abuse or victimization and they need adult help to intervene and stop the behavior.  Society does not expect any other victims of abuse to deal with it on their own, children should not be expected to handle bullying alone.  Adults play a key role in helping to stop this behavior as do other children who witness or observe bullying.

How does bullying affect ethnic groups/disabled students?

Kids whose ethnicity varies significantly from those in the dominant culture of their school may struggle with language barriers, understanding culture, and becoming comfortable in the school environment.  Disabled students may struggle with social skills and the ability to communicate effectively, as a result of their disability.  Overall, these kids are likely to be effected as any other target would be by bullying and can benefit from efforts to include them, increased social support, and coping skills.

What are common reactions to bullying?

Some kids don’t react to the bullying, in an attempt to ignore it, but suffer silently.  Others attempt to talk back to the bully, or even act out physically in retaliation.  There are multiple ways to effectively respond to bullying:  use a direct, assertive tone, using humor, agreeing with the bully, deflecting words, ignoring the behavior, etc.

Tomorrow’s installment will conclude the series with Jackie Summers and will focus on dealing with steps to take when dealing with bullying as a parent.

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Dave Hoffman