Stop Bullying: Tips for the PTA, Parents, and Teachers
Updated: Jun 20
Bullying - a single word that can leave lasting marks on a child's mental and emotional well-being. When we talk about bullying, we refer to intentional and repeated aggressive behavior involving an imbalance of power or strength. It’s an It'svere problem that can occur anywhere - at school, in parks, and even at home. With the ubiquity of digital devices and online platforms, it can infiltrate the safest spaces. Recent statistics show that one out of every five students report being bullied. This paints a grim picture and shows us that this issue requires immediate attention and collective effort from all stakeholders in a child, especially the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), parents, and teachers.
The PTA, parents, and teachers are pivotal in addressing and stopping bullying. The PTA can implement policies and campaigns, parents can instill empathy and kindness, and teachers can promote positive behavior and provide immediate intervention when bullying occurs. With a coordinated effort from these key figures, creating a safer, more inclusive school environment that discourages bullying is possible.
This article will guide you through understanding the various forms of bullying, recognizing its signs, and comprehending the roles of the bully, the victim, and the bystander. We will discuss the specific roles and responsibilities of the PTA, parents, and teachers in preventing bullying. And we will provide practical strategies to establish anti-bullying policies, promote empathy and kindness, and foster open communication with students.
Bullying manifests in various forms - physical, verbal, and, increasingly, cyberbullying. Physical bullying involves physical intimidation or violence, such as hitting or pushing. Verbal bullying involves derogatory comments, name-calling, or insults. Cyberbullying, a more recent and insidious form, occurs online through digital devices and platforms. The Government's resource on cyberbullying shows that it can happen anytime and anywhere, often without the victim's direct knowledge.
Recognizing the signs of bullying is critical for timely intervention. Bullying victims may exhibit behavior changes, like increased withdrawal, frequent complaints of illness, or declining academic performance. It's essential to be vigilant and attentive to these signs to ensure the well-being of children in our care.
Understanding the roles of the bully, victim, and bystander also helps us to address bullying better. The bully seeks power and control through their harmful actions, while the victim suffers the brunt. The bystander, however, can perpetuate or mitigate the bullying, depending on their response.
Preventing Bullying: Roles and Responsibilities
Creating a bully-free environment involves all stakeholders, especially the PTA, parents, and teachers. Each plays a unique and critical role, forming a formidable defense against bullying.
PTA's Role in Creating a Safe and Inclusive School Environment
The PTA can influence and implement policies at the school level. They can establish a solid anti-bullying policy that outlines expectations for behavior, procedures for reporting bullying, and consequences for bullying behavior. The PTA can also organize awareness campaigns to educate students, parents, and teachers about the dangers of bullying, thereby fostering a culture of respect and inclusivity.
Parents' Role in Fostering Empathy, Respect, and Open Communication
Parents have the most influence on their child and their behaviors. Parents can help children understand the importance of treating others with kindness by fostering empathy and respect at home. Open communication is also crucial. Encouraging children to talk about their day and any problems they are experiencing can help identify early signs of bullying. Knowledge of online safety, as detailed on the govergovernment's bullying site, can also arm parents with strategies to protect their children from cyberbullying.
Teacher's Role in Promoting Positive Behavior and Addressing Bullying Incidents
Teachers interact with students daily, making them ideally positioned to detect signs of bullying and intervene. They can promote positive behavior in the classroom by setting clear rules and enforcing them consistently. When bullying incidents occur, teachers can take immediate action by addressing the situation, ensuring the victim's safety, and applying the necessary consequences for the bully. Regular classroom discussions about the impact of bullying can help create an environment where bullying is understood to be unacceptable.
Collaboration and Teamwork Among the PTA, Parents, and Teachers
The fight against bullying is a team effort. Regular communication and collaboration between the PTA, parents, and teachers can ensure consistency in implementing anti-bullying policies and procedures. Sharing information about incidents or potential issues can enable timely interventions and a united front against bullying. By working together, we can ensure our school is a safe and nurturing space where every student can thrive.
Strategies for PTA, Parents, and Teachers
A robust and well-structured strategy is crucial to the success of our collective efforts to stop bullying. The PTA, parents, and teachers should collaborate to establish and implement comprehensive anti-bullying policies and procedures.
Establishing Anti-Bullying Policies and Procedures
Creating robust anti-bullying policies is the first step in any strategic anti-bullying initiative. These policies must clearly define what constitutes bullying, specify the consequences for those engaging in such behavior, and detail the reporting and investigation procedures. The PTA can drive this initiative in consultation with teachers and parents to ensure that the policy reflects the shared values and expectations of the school community.
Educating Students about Bullying Prevention and Its Impact
Education is an essential tool in our bid to stop bullying. Schools should run regular anti-bullying campaigns to raise awareness among students about the nature of bullying, its impact on victims, and how it can be prevented. Teachers can take the lead in organizing these educational initiatives with support from the PTA and parents.
Encouraging Open Dialogue and Active Listening with Students
Creating a safe space for students to discuss their concerns is crucial to preventing bullying. Parents should encourage open conversations at home, while teachers should foster a classroom environment that promotes open communication and active listening.
Promoting Empathy, Kindness, and Inclusion in School Activities
Encouraging empathy, kindness, and inclusion from a young age can effectively prevent bullying. Regular school activities that promote these values can help create a school culture that discourages bullying. Parents can also reinforce these values at home.
Monitoring and Addressing Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is a growing concern in this digital age that needs special attention. Parents should be vigilant about their children's online activities, taking heed of the advice provided by stopbullying.gov on how to protect children from online bullying. Teachers and the PTA should also ensure their anti-bullying initiatives firmly address cyberbullying.
Supporting Victims and Providing Resources for Intervention and Assistance
Supporting victims is just as important as addressing the behavior of bullies. Schools should have resources readily available for students who have experienced bullying, providing them with the assistance they need to recover. The PTA can work with the school to ensure such resources are available, while parents can provide critical emotional support at home.
By implementing these strategies, we can collectively take a stand to stop bullying and make our schools safe and nurturing environments for all students.
Recap of the Key Points
In this article, we've emphasized the urgency of the stop bullying movement and discussed various strategies that PTAs, parents, and teachers can adopt to create a bully-free environment. From understanding bullying, and recognizing its signs, to playing active roles in preventing it - everyone involved in a child's life has a part to play.
Encouragement for the PTA, Parents, and Teachers
No child should have to suffer the adverse effects of bullying. Therefore, the PTA, parents, and teachers must do all we can to prevent bullying. We should use resources such as stopbullying.gov to educate ourselves and our children, adopt effective strategies, and support those in need.
Emphasizing the Importance of Ongoing Collaboration and Communication
The fight to stop bullying isn't a one-time event but a continuous process that requires ongoing collaboration and communication. We must continue to educate, discuss, and adapt our strategies as needed to keep up with the evolving nature of bullying, particularly with the rise of cyberbullying.
Final Thoughts on Creating a Positive and Bully-Free School Environment
In conclusion, each of us plays a critical role in stopping bullying. It's not just about the policies or the programs in place; it's also about the culture we foster at our schools and homes. It's about teaching our children empathy, respect, and kindness. Only through such collective efforts can we hope to build a positive, inclusive, and bully-free school environment.
Bullying statistics from Pacer's National Bullying Prevention Center:
A comprehensive overview of current bullying prevention research conducted by government and higher education agencies.
Rates of Incidence
One out of every five (20.2%) students report being bullied. (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019 )
A higher percentage of male than of female students report being physically bullied (6% vs. 4%), whereas a higher percentage of female than of male students reported being the subjects of rumors (18% vs. 9%) and being excluded from activities on purpose (7% vs. 4%). (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019)
41% of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that they think the bullying would happen again. (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019 )
Of those students who reported being bullied, 13% were made fun of, called names, or insulted; 13% were the subject of rumors; 5% were pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on; and 5% were excluded from activities on purpose. (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019)
A slightly higher portion of female than of male students report being bullied at school (24% vs. 17%). (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019)
Bullied students reported that bullying occurred in the following places: the hallway or stairwell at school (43%), inside the classroom (42%), in the cafeteria (27%), outside on school grounds (22%), online or by text (15%), in the bathroom or locker room (12%), and on the school bus (8%). (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019)
46% of bullied students report notifying an adult at school about the incident. (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019)
School-based bullying prevention programs decrease bullying by up to 25%. (McCallion & Feder, 2013)
The reasons for being bullied reported most often by students include physical appearance, race/ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation. (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019)
The federal government began collecting data on school bullying in 2005, when the prevalence of bullying was around 28 percent. (U.S. Department of Education, 2015 )
Rates of bullying vary across studies (from 9% to 98%). A meta-analysis of 80 studies analyzing bullying involvement rates (for both bullying others and being bullied) for 12-18 year old students reported a mean prevalence rate of 35% for traditional bullying involvement and 15% for cyberbullying involvement. (Modecki, Minchin, Harbaugh, Guerra, & Runions, 2014 )
One in five (20.9%) tweens (9 to 12 years old) has been cyberbullied, cyberbullied others, or seen cyberbullying. (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020)
49.8% of tweens (9 to 12 years old) said they experienced bullying at school and 14.5% of tweens shared they experienced bullying online. (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020)
13% of tweens (9 to 12 years old) reported experiencing bullying at school and online, while only 1% reported being bullied solely online. (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020)
Effects of Bullying
Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school. (Centers for Disease Control, 2019)
Students who are both targets of bullying and engage in bullying behavior are at greater risk for both mental health and behavior problems than students who only bully or are only bullied. (Centers for Disease Control, 2019)
Bullied students indicate that bullying has a negative effect on how they feel about themselves (27%), their relationships with friends and family (19%), their school work (19%), and physical health (14%). (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019)
Students who experience bullying are twice as likely as non-bullied peers to experience negative health effects such as headaches and stomachaches. (Gini & Pozzoli, 2013 )
Youth who self-blame and conclude they deserved to be bullied are more likely to face negative outcomes, such as depression, prolonged victimization, and maladjustment. (Perren, Ettakal, & Ladd, 2013 )
Tweens who were cyberbullied shared that it negatively impacted their feelings about themselves (69.1%), their friendships (31.9%), their physical health (13.1%), and their schoolwork (6.5%). (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020).
Among students ages 12 – 18 who reported being bullied at school, 15% were bullied online or by text (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019)
Reports of cyberbullying are highest among middle school students, followed by high school students, and then primary school students (Centers for Disease Control, 2019)
The percentages of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetimes have more than doubled (18% to 37%) from 2007-2019 (Patchin & Hinduia, 2019 )
When students were asked about the specific types of cyberbullying they had experienced, mean and hurtful comments (25%) and rumors spread online (22%) were the most commonly-cited (Patchin et al., 2019 )
The type of cyberbullying tends to differ by gender. Girls were more likely to say someone spread rumors about them online while boys were more likely to say that someone threatened to hurt them online (Patchin et al., 2019 )
Those who are cyberbullied are also likely to be bullied offline (Hamm, Newton, & Chisholm, 2015 )
Cyberbullying Among Tweens (9-12 Years Old)
One in five tweens (20.9%) has been cyberbullied, cyberbullied others, or seen cyberbullying
49.8% of tweens said they experienced bullying at school and 14.5% of tweens shared they experienced bullying online
13% of tweens reported experiencing bullying at school and online, while only 1% reported being bullied solely online
Nine out of ten tweens use social media or gaming apps (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020)
Tweens shared they were engaging on the following sites, apps, or games: YouTube, Minecraft, Roblox, Google Classroom, Fortnite, TikTok, YouTube Kids, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger Kids, Instagram, Discord, Facebook, and Twitch
Tweens who were cyberbullied shared that it negatively impacted their feelings about themselves (69.1%), their friendships (31.9%), their physical health (13.1%), and their schoolwork (6.5%)
Tweens reported using a variety of strategies to stop the bullying including blocking the person bullying them (60.2%), telling a parent (50.8%), ignoring the person (42.8%), reporting it to the website or app (29.8%), and taking a break from the device (29.6%)
Two-thirds of tweens are willing to step in to defend, support, or assist those being bullied at school and online when they see it
Barriers to helping when tweens witness bullying at school or online included being afraid of making things worse, not knowing what to do or say, not knowing how to report it online, being afraid others kids will make fun of them, being afraid to get hurt, and not knowing who to tell
SOURCE: Patchin, J.W., & Hinduja, S. (2020). Tween Cyberbullying in 2020. Cyberbullying Research Center and Cartoon Network. Retrieved from: https://i.cartoonnetwork.com/stop-bullying/pdfs/CN_Stop_Bullying_Cyber_Bullying_Report_9.30.20.pdf.
Bullying of Students with Disabilities
Students with specific learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, emotional and behavior disorders, other health impairments, and speech or language impairments report greater rates of victimization than their peers without disabilities longitudinally and their victimization remains consistent over time (Rose & Gage, 2016 )
When assessing specific types of disabilities, prevalence rates differ: 35.3% of students with behavioral and emotional disorders, 33.9% of students with autism, 24.3% of students with intellectual disabilities, 20.8% of students with health impairments, and 19% of students with specific learning disabilities face high levels of bullying victimization (Rose & Espelage, 2012 )
Researchers discovered that students with disabilities were more worried about school safety and being injured or harassed by other peers compared to students without a disability (Saylor & Leach, 2009 )
When reporting bullying youth in special education were told not to tattle almost twice as often as youth not in special education (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
Successful strategies to prevent bullying among students with disabilities include (Rose & Monda-Amaya, 2012):
Teachers and peers engaging in meaningful and appropriate social interactions
Creating opportunities to increase social competence and positive interactions
Schools adopting appropriate intervention strategies that encourage social awareness and provide individualized interventions for targets with disabilities
Bullying of Students of Color
23% of African-American students, 23% of Caucasian students, 16% of Hispanic students, and 7% of Asian students report being bullied at school (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019)
More than one third of adolescents reporting bullying report bias-based school bullying (Russell, Sinclair, Poteat, & Koenig, 2012 )
Bias-based bullying is more strongly associated with compromised health than general bullying (Russell et al., 2012 )
Race-related bullying is significantly associated with negative emotional and physical health effects (Rosenthal et al, 2013 )
Bullying of Students Who Identify or Are Perceived as LGBTQ
70.1% of LGBTQ students were verbally bullied (e.g., called names, threatened) in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 59.1% because of their gender expression, and 53.2% based on gender (Kosciw, Greytak, Zongrone, Clark, & Truong, 2018)
28.9% of LGBTQ students were physically bullied (e.g., pushed, shoved) in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 24.4% because of their gender expression, and 22.8% based on gender (Kosciw et al., 2018)
48.7% of LGBTQ students experienced cyberbullying in the past year (Kosciw et al., 2018)
59.5% of LGBTQ students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, 44.6% because of their gender expression, and 35% because of their gender (Kosciw et al., 2018)
34.8% of LGBTQ students missed at least one entire day at school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, and 10.5% missed four or more days in the past month (Kosciw et al., 2018)
Of the LGBTQ students who reported they were considering dropping out of school, 42.2% indicated they were doing so because of the harassment they faced at school (Kosciw et al., 2018)
Compared to LGBTQ students with no supportive school staff, students with many (11 or more) supportive staff at school were less likely to miss school because they felt unsafe (20.1% to 48.8%) and felt greater belonging to their school community (Kosciw et al., 2018)
LGBTQ students experienced a safe, more positive school environment when their school had a bullying prevention / anti-harassment policy that specifically included protections on sexual orientation and gender identity / expression (Kosciw et al., 2018)
Peer victimization of all youth was less likely to occur in schools with bullying policies that are inclusive of LGBTQ students (Hatzenbuehler & Keyes, 2013 )
Bullying and Suicide
There is a strong association between bullying and suicide-related behaviors, but this relationship is often mediated by other factors, including depression, violent behavior, and substance abuse (Reed, Nugent, & Cooper, 2015)
Students who report frequently bullying others and students who report being frequently bullied are at increased risk for suicide-related behavior (Centers for Disease Control, 2014)
A meta-analysis found that students facing peer victimization are 2.2 times more likely to have suicide ideation and 2.6 times more likely to attempt suicide than students not facing victimization (Gini & Espelage, 2014 )
Students who are both bullied and engage in bullying behavior are the highest risk group for adverse outcomes (Espelage & Holt, 2013)
The false notion that suicide is a natural response to being bullied has the dangerous potential to normalize the response and thus create copycat behavior among youth (Centers for Disease Control, 2014).
Bullied youth were most likely to report that actions that accessed support from others made a positive difference (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
Actions aimed at changing the behavior of the bullying youth (fighting, getting back at them, telling them to stop, etc.) were rated as more likely to make things worse (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
Students reported that the most helpful things teachers can do are: listen to the student, check in with them afterwards to see if the bullying stopped, and give the student advice (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
Students reported that the most harmful things teachers can do are: tell the student to solve the problem themselves, tell the student that the bullying wouldn’t happen if they acted differently, ignored what was going on, or tell the student to stop tattling (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
As reported by students who have been bullied, the self-actions that had some of the most negative impacts (telling the person to stop/how I feel, walking away, pretending it doesn’t bother me) are often used by youth and often recommended to youth (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
Tweens reported using a variety of strategies to stop the bullying including blocking the person bullying them (60.2%), telling a parent (50.8%), ignoring the person (42.8%), reporting it to the website or app (29.8%), and taking a break from the device (29.6%) (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020).
Students need not be the targets of bullying to experience negative outcomes. Observing bullying is associated with adverse mental health outcomes (Rivers, Poteat, Noret, & Ashurst, 2009 )
Bystanders’ beliefs in their social self-efficacy were positively associated with defending behavior and negatively associated with passive behavior from bystanders – i.e. if students believe they can make a difference, they’re more likely to act (Thornberg et al., 2012 )
Students who experience bullying report that allying and supportive actions from their peers (such as spending time with the student, talking to him/her, helping him/her get away, or giving advice) were the most helpful actions from bystanders (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
Students who experience bullying are more likely to find peer actions helpful than educator or self-actions (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
The Youth Voice Research Project (2010) found that victimized students reported the following bystander strategies that made things better: spent time with me (54%), talked to me (51%), helped me get away (49%), called me (47%), gave me advice (46%), helped me tell (44%), distracted me (43%), listened to me (41%), told an adult (35%), confronted them (29%), asked them to stop
Even students who have observed but not participated in bullying behavior report significantly more feelings of helplessness and less sense of connectedness and support from responsible adults than students who have not witnessed bullying behavior (Centers for Disease Control, 2014)
Two-thirds of tweens are willing to step in to defend, support, or assist those being bullied at school and online when they see it (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020).
Barriers to helping when tweens witness bullying at school or online included being afraid of making things worse, not knowing what to do or say, not knowing how to report it online, being afraid others kids will make fun of them, being afraid to get hurt, and not knowing who to tell (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020).
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Updated: November, 2020
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