School counselors have a responsibility to provide a platform of leadership in the prevention of bullying in their schools. This report is being provided as a training vehicle to help counselors understand adolescent bullying and also provide comprehensive interventions that can be put into practice to maintain a school-wide approach to addressing and ending bullying. This report will also include suggestions on how school counselors can adopt a bullying prevention approach in their schools.
Bullying is a worldwide problem and has considerable short term and long term effects on the victims and the bullies. Bullying can be defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both children who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems” (Bullying Definition). Another definition for bullying is “physical or psychological abuse of an individual or a group of students” (Hazler, Hoover, & Oliver, 1993). Teasing and practical jokes are also considered a form of bullying (Hazler, Hoover, & Oliver, 1993).
Statistics show that 28% of U.S. students who were in grades 6–12 experienced bullying (DeVoe & Bauer, 2011), and 19.6% of U.S. students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013).
Bullying tactics consist of direct behavior which includes taunting, teasing, hitting and threatening by one or more children against a victim or victims. Indirect bullying causes a student to be isolated through intentional social exclusion. Gender influences the style of bullying. Boys usually employ the method of direct bullying, while girls are more apt to use the indirect bullying by the isolation method and spreading rumors (Ahmad & Smith, 1994). Direct or indirect, psychological or physical intimidation happens over time repeatedly as an ongoing pattern of abuse and harassment (Batsche & Knoff, 1994) (Olweus, 1993).
Studies have shown that 15% of students either are bullied on a regular basis or the ones who initiate bullying behavior (Olweus, 1993). During the elementary years direct bullying seems to increase, then peak in middle and junior high school, and then decline during high school. As direct physical attack appears to diminish with age, verbal abuse seems to remain a constant. Boys are bullies and victims of bullying more often than girls are (Batsche & Knoff, 1994) (Olweus, 1993). Students who bully have a desire or need to feel in control and powerful and get satisfaction from inflicting pain, injury, and suffering on other students. They seem to have no form or trace of empathy for those that they bully. Studies have shown that bullies quite often come from homes they receive physical punishment, are likely being taught that the best way to handle problems is to strike back physically, and they are lacking the warmth and parental involvement they need as they are growing up. These students who display bullying behavior are usually antisocial, likely to break the school rules, display opposition toward adults, and are defiant. Contrary to popular belief, bullies appear to have strong self-esteem and very little anxiety, and there seems to be very little evidence to sustain the argument that they actually victimize other students because they feel bad about themselves (Batsche & Knoff, 1994).
A study showed that 60% of bullies in grades 6 through 9 had at least one criminal conviction by the age of 24 (Olweus, 1993). Those who constantly bully students seem to continue their bullying behavior well into adulthood, negatively impacting their ability to develop or maintain positive relationships (Oliver, Hoover, & Hazler, 1994).
Victims of bullying are afraid to go to school and see school as an unsafe place. About 7% of eighth-graders in America stay home from school at least once