Pansy, nerd, drip, and creep: these are just a few of the horrible slurs that schoolyard bullies, and many other popular students, direct toward their ostracized, vulnerable peers in the hallowed halls that form the American public school system. In and of themselves, these malicious words can quickly erode the self-esteem of their victims; however, words are not the only tool employed in the oppression of unpopular students. Violence towards the weak and emotionally unstable is a common theme in many American schools, and it is a grave threat to those students who cannot readily defend themselves. Following the infamous Columbine High School shootings, in which two students, both victims of bullying, embarked upon a murderous rampage through their school, many schools have enacted zero tolerance policies towards planned, or even implied, violence within schools. However noble these policies are, they effectively allow bullies to continue their harassment of weaker students. School administrators then reserve the right to punish, and even expel, the weaker students who choose to defend themselves, whether vocally or physically, while ignoring the root cause of these insurrections. Whatever the reasons or methods, bullying in American schools is detrimental to the physical, intellectual, and emotional growth of the victims; bullied students are undoubtedly the "other" in schools, unable to seek help from school officials, which can leave the victims with emotional problems, and can lead to suicide and Columbine-style violence.
One of the largest hurdles in the fight against schoolyard bullying is teachers and school administrators who could not readily identify the bulk of student bullies.
From our vantage point as playground observers, we concluded that these poorly
regulated children comprised the most visible, but not necessarily the most
abusive aggressors on the playground. Model students sometimes held that
distinction; ones that teachers assured us were "no problem." Based on these
students' upstanding classroom behavior and engaging manner, few adults would
suspect the cruel behavior we observed. (Frey 410) The teachers in Frey's study would not believe that some of these "model" students engaged in the bullying of other students. Often, these "model" students are members of sports teams, or take part in other school-sponsored activities, and are able to subvert any reprimands for bullying by charming teachers and other school administrators and pretending to be "responsible" and "benevolent" students.
Frey acknowledges other obstacles in figuring out the causes, and thus the remedies, for bullying. "Students approaching secondary school become increasingly reluctant to acknowledge being victimized" (Frey 411). Victims of bullies are habitually stereotyped as possessing social, mental, or physical inequalities that set them apart from the normal body of students. Television, movies, music, and other forms of media depict these victims as nerds, such as Steve Urkel, from the television show "Family Matters," and Screech from "Saved by the Bell." Most students do not wish to associate themselves with these stereotypes, and therefore tend to hide the ill-treatment they endure every day.
Bullying does not solely pertain to physical aggression, something of which most school officials can readily identify and intervene to stop or prevent.
Unfortunately, because relational aggressions are more covert and subtle than physical assaults, they may be far less recognizable to school personnel. Although repeated physical confrontation is clearly recognized as bullying, friendship manipulation and social exclusion are not easily identified. If these behaviors are not being recognized as bullying by school personnel, then they are not being successfully addressed in the school setting
"Doing nothing is functionally equivalent to condoning violent behavior" (Elinoff Et Al. 891). Social exclusion and...
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