Bullying is an act of repeatedly directing an ill-intentioned behavior to a vulnerable pupil or student. More often than not, bullying is instigated without any perceptible aggravation on the part of the pupil exposed to it. Cases of bullying were rampant in the recent past, prompting the government to initiate mechanisms of tackling this problem. The leading example was the first conference in 2011 initiated by President Obama and the First Lady to address the issue of bullying among pre-school children. It may be assumed that at such a tender age, children are obviously naive and too young for adults to worry about their emotional safety, but necessary efforts should be put to detect such ruthless behavior as early as possible. This paper analyses the problem of bullying in preschools and its effects, both long and short term. In addition, the analysis includes the statistics of bullying and the studies that have been conducted to address the problem and provide solutions or ways to tackle the one.
Bullying in Preschools
Bullying can be expressed in various forms. The most common one is physical bullying, when bullies direct aggression to others by violent body expressions, namely, through hitting, kicking, pinching, punching, scratching using one’s nails, and sometimes even spitting on victims or forcibly confiscating their possession (Utterly Global, n.d.). These violent ways of behavior, which may sometimes results into physical injuries to the body of the victim, are often shown through the audio-visual media, such as violent movies and wrestling. The latter can be causes of aggression on the part of adults.
Besides, some bullies may opt to bully others verbally by calling them filthy names, hurling insults at them, making racists, sexist or homophonic jokes, teasing or making sexually suggestive advances, especially at opposite sexes, and using vulgar language to make offensive remarks. Such ways of adult behavior can be directed to innocent young people (American Psychological Association, 2004).
Apart from that, bully children may at times practice bullying indirectly through the spread of rumors or slanderous information about their purported foes, or eliminating them from their social groups. Finally, in this technological era, bullies may use media devices irresponsibly for sending abusive mails, SMS, MMS, phone call bullying, chat room, IM bullying, or bullying through websites (Utterly Global, n.d.). Such cases sometimes happen at the backs of responsible adults who may never discover them unless the offended pupils gain courage and report them for bullying. However, adults of such young bullies endowed with care should be in position to identify characteristics that the latter exhibit in a group and take prior remedial steps to curb the vice before it becomes chronic. Some of the bullies have a tendency of gaining dominance over others by subduing them in every way possible in any confrontation. Such characters also normally have a void in their ego, which they want to fill up by seeking recognition. On the other hand, some bullies may simply be impulsive, especially, when infuriated. They are quite temperamental and will mostly begin lashing at their victims as they hurl insults. Despite that, bullies are often defiant and aggressive towards adults. It is observed from the way they respond to calls or even advices at home.
Conversely, victims of bullies are in most cases the total opposite of perpetrators of heinous acts. Some may have a down syndrome and be sensitive, quiet and shy. They mostly withdraw from a group due to a weak personality. Others are often anxious and unhappy, mostly displaying the feeling of insecurity or displeasure, as well as have low esteem (Utterly Global, n.d.). Similarly, they also look depressed and may engage in suicidal attempts severally as compared to bullies. Lastly, they may have a better attitude to adults than fellow children. In addition, they are social misfits and always look weaker than their peers. Such victims may sometimes resort to truancy due to fearfulness (Utterly Global, n.d.). They may not use the bathroom, ride on a bus or share playing apparatus with others for fear of bullying as well. This syndrome normally results into deterioration in their academic performance. Some of these characteristics may be a partial cause or an outcome of bullying, which requires the attention of the teacher to identify and act accordingly.
Effects of Bullying
Bullying has bidirectional effects on the victim and the bully himself. Fist, the victim of bullying often may suffer physically because of pain inflicted on his/her body. It may entail injuries like scratches, bruises, scalds and burns (“School Bullying Statistics,” n.d.). Although these may be treated and heal, but the marks left will always be a reminder of bitter past dawning on them whenever they look at the body. More so, bullying will definitely have a negative effect on the academic progress of the victim. The habit of being bullied every now and then may instill a phobia about school programs in them, which may result into pupils’ absenteeism. Henceforth, they can have troubles in performance or even drop out of school completely (“School Bullying Statistics,” n.d.).
Similarly, bullying has dire consequences in relation to the victim’s psychological wellbeing. The torture of being bullied may often trigger stress and depression or even cause the suicidal feeling. Such cases have been on the rise in the recent past. Finally, the victim is also affected socially as he/she will develop mistrust in people, as well as become segregated from a group and a social misfit eventually. This condition will definitely have adverse effects on the victim’s social skills such as expressing himself or herself, developing psychomotor skills, which are crucial in determining children’s talents and inherent abilities (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).
On the contrary, the bully may suffer from superiority complex, and if not intercepted in good time, they will perpetuate it until adulthood. It will make them hooligans who may pose a serious threat to the security of the entire community. In some cases, such people also become vandals of public and individual properties. Finally, bullying will also hamper their academic, social and moral development, which will render them useless in contemporary society (U.S. Department of Education, 2014). Eventually, such characters will simply become liabilities but not assets in society.
Proven Ways of Dealing with Bullies in School
A person may get rid of every acquired behavior pattern. However, such unruly behavior ought to be identified and uprooted at the initial stages to avoid its far-reaching effects. The first way to deal with bullies to appropriately is to understand and determine the difference between a bullying pattern and a predictable preschool behavior. While the latter has been proven to fade away itself as the child starts interacting with the school environment, the former is persistent and pernicious (U.S. Department of Education, 2014).
Secondly, it is necessary to cultivate an environment where conflict and hurtful comments are corrected and discouraged immediately. In their study, Williams & Guerra (2011) have established that when children are used to the discouragement of certain behaviors, they eventually develop permanent repugnance towards them. It can also be done through proper role modeling. As it has been mentioned earlier, both violent and modest behaviors are acquired within society where children grow. Children’s behaviors are merely a reflection of the ones of adults. As it is popularly said by many people, “Garbage in, garbage out”. It is therefore very crucial for adults to play the role of mentors and serve as proper examples to children who are always emulating them.
Vetstein (2013) has established that knowledge got from parents and teachers are critical in the fight against bullying. They ought to jointly set clear limits to any intimidating behavior whether at home or school. They should then follow up this with positive interactions to ensure children fully practice them. Adults should identify and recognize those with an outstanding behavior and decide on the appropriate punitive measure to be taken against those who violate the code of conduct. Finally, teachers can involve children in concerts, skits, poems, and songs that enhance good behavior. It enhances both passive and active learning of good attributes though in an enjoyable manner. Scientists have proven the fact that when a concept is repeated more than four times, it becomes part of someone (Cornell & Mehta, 2011). Therefore, this can be a perfect way, through which vices can be discouraged and virtues enhanced.
Bullying remains a socially unacceptable behavior, which is perpetuated in schools and other social gatherings involving children. Though it is highly condemnable, it is a big challenge to all those charged with the responsibility of bringing up children to identify and eradicate factors that contribute to these hardnosed behavior patterns among kids. Adults are not to blame children for these ways of behavior because they only reflect symptoms, while the real causes of this disease are adults. The problems witnessed in this case narrow down to parenting. Many unwelcomed patterns of behavior are always learnt during the formative stages of life, and that is the time when children spend more with their relatives, mostly parents. It should be accepted that it is normal for children to acquire some irrational behaviors. There are some pathetic children, while others are very modest. The difference lies in the methods adopted in upbringing right from the time the child started learning. Parent and guardians should therefore shun reckless utterances, abusive language, slanderous terms and actions that will make their reputation questionable. Only these precautious steps can mitigate the risk of children aping wrong behaviors. As it is commonly said, ‘Children are never good at listening to adults but they have never failed to copy them’.