Every child has the right to ride a bus, use a restroom, participate in classes, walk the hallways, eat their lunches, and walk home after school in a “safe” environment. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) working in schools with children who stutter may have victims of bullying on their caseloads. These student-victims may feel most comfortable turning to SLPs for help during one-on-one treatment sessions to discuss these types of experiences.
Bullying is a form of aggression with three primary features: a) intent to do harm, b) repetition of the bullying behavior, and c) a power imbalance between the bully and his or her victim (Olweus, 1993). Bullying is an epidemic in our schools, creating negative and damaging effects on students’ academic achievement, self-esteem, physical health, and social relationships. The research clearly shows that it leads to increased anxiety, depression, alienation, long-term negative consequences and in severe cases suicidal thoughts and actions (Arseneault, Bowes, & Shakoor, 2010).
There are four main characters in this cycle of aggression: 1) bullies, 2) victims, 3) bully-victims and 4) bystanders. It would be great if everyone wore labels, but they don’t. Bullies are not only the “bigger kids” using foul language with internalizing and externalizing problems who are academically challenged. They are the popular girls, the class leaders, the student-athletes, and the teacher’s favorites. They include the students who display great difficulty learning and sometimes the most gifted children in the school.
Victims appear to be more sensitive, weak, shy, and quiet. They may display poorer social skills/relations and uneasiness in conversations. Victims may display one or more of these characteristics. Victims tend to be described as either passive (non-responsive to the aggression) or provocative (responsive to the aggression). Passive victims make-up about 80% of victims.
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