How can you live the rest of your life knowing that you were responsible for another person deciding to take his or her own life? This is a serious question to consider before making the decision to bully another individual. Children and teenagers need to understand the consequences of their actions. Many schools have “bullying prevention awareness” week or month to address the issues of bullying, but that is not enough. Bullying is a constant issue in and outside of schools. Schools should constantly be spreading awareness and education, providing support to bully victims, and incorporating appropriate disciplinary actions as a part of their school policy.
The 2009 Indicators of School Crime and Safety reported that one-third of teens have been bullied at school, and that students in middle schools are seeing the highest rates of bullying. Research has shown that students are being bullied more inside than outside of school. However, bullying is becoming a larger social issue because social media and Internet enable the youth to easily harass victims outside of school.
Each school in the state of Pennsylvania is required to have an anti-bullying policy. States are graded on their anti-bullying policies by the “Bully Police USA.” Pennsylvania has been given a “B+” grade. Residents of Pennsylvania must act to improve our schools’ anti-bullying policies to receive the highest grade possible. Pennsylvania schools can make changes by raising awareness on bullying in schools with both the faculty and students. Faculty should be encouraged to report their witnessing or being told of bullying incidences and should also include the topic of bullying in their curriculum. Schools must incorporate appropriate discipline policies, such as a zero tolerance policy or a restorative discipline policy in which the bullies are forced to “make things right” with their victim. It is also crucial to provide the needed support to the students who are being bullied and to help give them a voice against the bullying. Schools need to work harder on empowering their victims of bullying and creating a safe place for them.
University of Pennsylvania
MSW graduate student