High School Bullying Guide

By: Jordin Frey

High School bullying guide

Bullying looks different at different ages and also takes on many different forms. Some bullying involves physical violence; this is very common among young children. Bullying evolves into social and verbal abuse as children age. Once kids are in high school, social media is often the cornerstone of bullying. This sort of bullying is known as cyberbullying. The prevalence of social media apps means it's much harder for kids to escape bullying. Once, a kid might experience bullying at school but be safe at home. Now, their bullies can keep up the harassment around the clock. This inability to escape bullies is one reason why it's so important that students, teachers, and parents all know how to handle bullying when it occurs.

Effects of Bullying

The impact of bullying radiates out from the victim and perpetrator and affects the entire community. It's common for victims of bullying to experience anger, anxiety, and depression. Some of these effects are only short-term, but some impact the victim for years. It's not uncommon for victims of bullying to take out their feelings on others. It's also not uncommon for their grades to fall and for these students to dread and resent going to school. As a result, these effects can affect the student's occupational opportunities and even their ability to build a stable adult life for themselves. Students who witness bullying, even if they themselves are not victims, also often report anxiety and feeling unsafe. These feelings can impact the bystanders' ability to learn. Adolescent bullies are often kids who don't know how to express their feelings in an age-appropriate manner, which leads them to develop issues with antisocial behaviors, aggression, and even violence. Their lack of social and behavioral skills also means they struggle with school and work. They are more likely to smoke and drive under the influence as they age.

Victims of Bullying

One study of bullied students found that students said their bullies often tormented them over their looks, body size or shape, and/or race. Students who identify as or who are thought to be LGBTQIA are also at a much higher risk of experiencing bullying. One study states that about a third of LGBTQIA students are bullied to the point of missing school in any given month. Additionally, students with disabilities are up to three times more likely to experience bullying than their peers. It's also common for students to be bullied because of their religion. Girls are also more likely to be bullied than boys, and this is especially true on social media, where many students experience harassment and bullying.

What Can Parents Do?

Parents who find out their child is being bullied at school should immediately report the issue to teachers and administrators. If their child has been threatened, parents should call the police. Keeping records of the bullying can help parents prove that bully has broken the law or school rules about bullying. A meeting with the school principal is often necessary to confront the problem. If the school does not respond appropriately, the parents can file a legal notice of harassment or file a complaint with the Department of Education. It's also important that parents emotionally support their children and consider therapy or counseling to help their child deal with the trauma of being bullied.

What Can Friends and Bystanders Do?

Bystanders who confront the bully, bring the bullying to the attention of other students or peers, or verbally defend the student being bullied can be successful in stopping the bullying in more than half of all incidents. However, it's difficult for many students to intervene. Watching bullying can bring about anxiety or even cause a bystander to identify with the bully. Friend groups can become splintered when one friend begins bullying the other, and some kids who begin as bystanders end up taking part in the bullying.

Reporting Cyberbullying

Social media sites are very aware that their platforms are often used by bullies. Most of them have ways to directly flag incidents of abuse or bullying within their apps. Users can report and block anyone they have bad interactions with, and this empowers victims to remove themselves from the situation. Other websites have forms that victims can fill out. However, it's important to be aware that cyberbullies often create fake accounts to continue the harassment. At that point, parents should involve the authorities.

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