Myths and Facts About Bullying

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A topic of great concern among American society, and parents in particular, is that of youth violence. The media often makes the situation appear as though youth violence is on the increase in the United States. However, scientific research shows that youth violence is not truly increasing, but that certain environmental factors make the statistics read as though the violence is increasing. Statistics can be influenced by a number of factors besides actual increases in violence, such as the introduction of ‘zero tolerance’ policies in schools or the reduction of police discretion on police forces. These environmental factors lead to more incidents of youth violence being detected by those who measure youth violence, but dose not actually represent an actual concrete increase in the violence. However, there is one area of youth violence that has increased somewhat over the past three decades. Although the increase is not drastic, bullying is a form of youth violence that is highly prevalent in all schools in North America, and abroad. Bullying is a lesser form of violence in which one or more students pick on, verbally or physically abuse another student who is viewed as a weaker child. This often takes the form of physical and/or psychological harm (Bastche & Knoff et al., 1994). Although bullying is a major problem within the school system, the topic is not fully understood and there are many circulated myths related to the subject. This paper attempts to highlight some of these myths and clarify the actual facts that do exist within the documented literature.

Myths about the topic of bullying are widespread and are commonly believed by the majority of individuals. One of the most common myths can even be seen in the above definition of bullying, in that the victims of bullying are not always weaker children than are the bullies. One of the myths about bullying relates to the fact that some schools say their do not have bullying. Sometimes schools with ‘zero tolerance’ policies in place believe that they have successfully managed to end bullying as a problem for their students, but it is highly unlikely that this is true (Byrne, 1994). There are many different ways bullying can occur beyond the sight of teachers and authority figures, as bullying is often a very subtle form of violence or harassment, and can be as simple as a glance from one student to another. The only difference between schools with the subject of bullying is whether or not they choose to deal with it in an effective manner. Schools that take a proactive approach to the problem of bullying, by educating their students and dealing with it promptly and firmly, are the most likely to have success in combating the issue, but no school will ever fully remove the problem of bullying (Byrne, 1994).

Another common myth about bullying relates to how children are encouraged to deal with the issue. Nearly everyone can relate to a parent or teacher telling the victim of bullying to simply ‘ignore it.’ Nearly all victims of bullying are told that they should ignore their bully, not give in to them or respond, as all the bully wants is to get a reaction. But bullying should not be ignored. Every student and child has the right to attend school without being harassed or bullied by other students (Hoover et al, 1992). To tell the student to simply ignore the problem is telling them that the problem does not matter, and the other student is within his or her own right to bully. This is not true. Victims of bullies should maintain records of the events and insist that the school deal with the problem effectively by punishing the bully (Hoover et al, 1992).

Many adults believe that bullying really has no damaging effects on children. It is often believed that bullying is a part of life, or a part of growing up and that all children are teased over one topic or another. Thus, the lesson to be learned is how to brush it off and continue on with life. Some adults...
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