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Exploring options to alleviate bullying behaviors in schools

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Bullies and childhood victims

•Kids who are bullies often go on to commit other criminal acts.
•Kids who are victims of bullying are five times more likely to be depressed as their peers.
•Often, kids who are bullies in their younger years, become more violent over time and will be bullies in adulthood as well.
•Bullied boys are four times more likely to be suicidal. For bullied girls, the likelhood for suicide is eight times as great.
•Many kid skip school because of fear of what will happen to them each day.
•Victims of bullying sometimes seek revenge on those who bullied them by the use of deadly force.
From The 411 Bullying, Hamilton Fish Institute, George Washington University

One Carbon County mother indicates that her children were sad to go to school before she moved the youth to a different campus.

"They would come home with long faces and hated to go each morning despite in the past they had loved school," said the mother. "I kept asking questions and at first they wouldn't tell me. Then I found out that they were being excluded and mentally bullied."

Many Carbon County residents may think that the typical bully is a big or extra strong and mean youth.

Most people may think that the negative behavior involves mostly with boys.

Most people may also think that bullying usually takes place only at school.

"There's a lot of relational bullying that goes on," said Judy Mainord who is heading up the movement to have Carbon School District adopt a new policy on bullying at the next school board meeting. "That kind of bullying can be as bad as the physical kind."

Relational bullying is when children are excluded from groups or an entire a social set.

While the children are outside the group, the youth are also prone to gossip and name calling as well.

Researchers have identified four kinds of bully types.

First is the aggressive bully. The aggressive bully has always been the most commonly recognized type.

Second are the passive bullies.

The youth in the second category join in the negative behavior after an aggressive bully takes the lead.

The passive types are the followers and may be the enforcers for the aggressive bully.

The third type is the bully who has been victimized.

The children in the third type act out on weaker kids because they have been or are being bullied by other youth.

The fourth type includes the relational bullies.

Among girls, the recreational category is the most common type of bullying.

The fourth type of children bully by exclusion and manipulation.

Bullying by females has been on the rise for years, although the behavior has always been a problem.

The fourth type of behavior was what was happening to the Carbon County mother's children.

For the woman, the solution to the problem was to move the children to a different school.

"As I became aware of the problem, I began to watch what was going on at the campus and what I found was very interesting," said the mother. "I found that, during recess, you didn't see kids playing on the playground, but they were grouped up in bunches. They didn't play. That was the time where they mentally bullied the individuals."

"My kids were part of the excluded group. I looked around and found a school where I saw the kids playing at recess and moved them there. Now they are much happier and are liking school again," continued the Carbon County resident.

The mother indicated that a lot of the difference she saw was in the administration at the school.

At one building, the woman said the principal didn't seem to think there was much of a problem.

But at the school where she moved her children, the mother said the administration and teachers appeared to adopt a proactive stance in keeping students from being bullies.

Bullying, particularly the mental kind, is frequently ignored by people who rationalize the behavior by claiming "kids will be kids."

To a certain extent, the rationalization may be true,. But anti-bullying efforts don't just concentrate on the youth who exhibit the negative behaviors. In fact, the efforts concentrate on the victim and potential victims of bullies.

"The victims reaction to bullying is important, no matter what kind of bullying it is," said Rosemary Lasko, a social worker at Granite School District in Salt Lake for more 30 years who has set up anti-bullying programs. "We teach kids to stand up not only for themselves, but for others they see being bullied. We teach them to be more assertive when they see something going on and to report what they see. We also teach them to walk away when the time is right."

In a paper called Bully Proofing Your School: A Comprehensive Approach for Elementary Schools, author Carla Garrity points out that conflict between kids is not unusual, but that bullying is very different from the normal parameters of contention.

Normal peer conflict happens occasionally, some of it is accidental, it is generally not very serious, both sides have emotional reactions to the situation, neither side is usually seeking power or attention, neither are usually out to get something and there is usually remorse on both sides of the issue.

On the other hand Garrity points out in bullying situations there is an imbalance of power where the victim has few friends, the incidents have repeated negative actions, the actions by the bully are always purposeful rather than accidental, and that threats are serious and loaded with emotional or physical harm.

One of the hallmarks of bullying is also that the bully has no remorse about what they are doing, while the victim has strong emotional ties to the actions.

Many bullies, when asked why they do what they do say "it is fun."

Often bullying is a learned behavior. Children who see parents or siblings being bullies or are victims of that bullying are very likely to develop that behavior themselves.

As for victims, they can be almost anyone, but most repeated bullying goes on with victims who have certain characteristics. Loners and youth who have few friends often tend to be targets.

With no support system, the loners have no one to stand up for them and or to help with their self concept.

A child who is different may also be at risk for bullying more than the average kid. Different can be everything from having too big a nose to being too short or tall.

The local schools are working toward finding solutions to bullying, but those actions take time.

"With the state initiative and our new policy we will be building a climate where bullying will be unacceptable," said Mainord. "We are doing a bullying prevention survey in every school because it behooves us to know the exact parameters of the problem."

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