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School and Security: Dealing with bullies the fair way

>> Mar 28, 2016

Bullying is one of the most concerning problems the world faces today.  From provincial schools located in the Philippines’ most remote islands to even some of the international schools in Manila, bullying is on the rise, with a total of 6,363 cases reported in 2014—an increase of 21% from the previous total of 5,236 in 2013. In the US, one out of four students was bullied in school year 2015.  However, it is important to note that those numbers only reflect the number of reported cases, and should unreported cases be included, those numbers would probably be much higher.

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Since the number of bullying incidents has been on the rise around the world for some time, certain governments have started passing anti-bullying laws in their respective countries: 
  • The first US State to pass an anti-bullying law was Georgia in 1999.  Today, all 50 US States have passed anti-bullying laws.
  • In Canada, the province of Quebec passed anti-bullying laws in 2004.
  • In the Philippines, the Philippine government signed into law the Implementing Rules and Regulation of Republic Act No. 201627, more commonly known as the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013.    The Department of Education also has the Child Protection Policy in place, which puts the well-being of children at the forefront. 
While it is great to see the government taking charge in combating this problem, it should be the schools’ prerogative to provide solutions to this growing problem, since the problem is happening in schools—in their classrooms, hallways, and even playgrounds.As schools are usually the ground zero for bullying incidents (since schools are where children learn to socialize with their peers), they are the ones best equipped to handle bullying at its source.

In addition, addressing the bullying problem directly would also help them achieve their goal, which is to provide quality education to all their students so that they can become productive members of society, because bullying runs counter to that goal—its negative effects can hamper both bully and victim from becoming all that they can be.

Many schools have established anti-bullying policies. However, based on the continued rise of bullying incidents around the world, many of those policies do not work.  In the US, the zero-tolerance policy is the most notable.  It involves an automatic punishment or penalty to every student that violate school rules, without any regard what actually happened and who did what first.  The idea is this: if the students knew they are going to be punished, suspended, or even expelled, they would not be doing what the school does not want them to do (i.e., bullying). 

A student automatically expelled for beating up another student is an example of the zero-tolerance policy at work.  That the quiet, soft-spoken student only retaliated after being bullied and called a freak for months by his classmate did not matter.  All the school cared about was that he was punished for beating up another student—case closed.

The best way is for schools to take a more empathetic approach, which can make understanding bullies and correcting their behavior easier.  By empathizing with both the victim and the bully, one will be able to understand why the bullying happens and what one can do to stop it.

The following signals why a child exhibits a bullying behavior: 
  • Behavioral problems (i.e., lack of empathy)
  • ack of respect for diversity
  • Social inequality 
Bullies usually target the following: 
  • Those who belong to a different ethnicity
  • Those who look different
  • Those who have less physical or athletic ability
  • Those who are too fat or too thin
  • The LGBT
  • The marginalized 
This insensitivity to diversity and social inequality might be from their lack of exposure to ideas such as ethnic diversity, disabilities, obesity and emaciation, sexual identity and orientation, and social marginalization.

Schools can develop programs and activities that can further immerse their students in different ideas, ethnicities, and cultures and tackle issues like social inequality and sexual diversity in an age-appropriate way.  Doing so may help those with bullying behaviors to understand and empathize with others that they deem different.

Instead of the zero-tolerance policy, schools should instead take a holistic approach when dealing with bullying incidents.  School administrators should see and investigate bullying incidents in context.  Students who report bullying with the requisite evidence needed should be encouraged to do so, and their schools need to protect them from repercussions.  Teachers and school staff should recognize and admit that bullying exists, and they should be extra vigilant in recognizing bullying behavior and incidents that are happening around them.

Although the end-all be-all strategy that can solve the growing bullying problems around the world does not yet exist, it is important to understand that bullying is not an impossible problem.  It is only a matter of time before empathy and human ingenuity finds a way. 

Author Biography:

Kimberly Marie Gayeta (Kimmy)is a Communications Degree holder, passionate writer, currently working as a local Public Relations Officer and an online Marketing Representative.
Thoroughly fascinated about travelling, leisure, and living the good life! 
Follow her on twitter: @kimmygayeta

1 komentar:

Nancy Chan March 28, 2016 at 3:28 PM  

Bullying in schools is not only happening in Philippines but also elsewhere. It is increasing in numbers.

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