I don't know if the problem is so much with bullying, which has always been in existence among kids and adolescents. I think the main problem today is with the form the bullying takes (teasing or lying over social network media means a large audience can be reached quickly which can create a pretty overwhelming situation), and also the inappropriate response to bullying. Hard though it may be, kids have to learn to stand up for themselves, and take the initiative and tell a responsible adult about the problem. If the first responsible adult doesn't intervene, they need to keep trying.
Where bullying is involved, there shouldn't be 2nd and 3rd chances. Those who bully aren't under the false belief that what they're doing isn't bullying. A bully knows what s/he is doing and does it with an intent to seriously hurt the person who is being bullied.
This can only be stopped by teachers and administrators getting more serious about prosecution. And a bully should be treated as someone who is guilty unless proven innocent.
I think that if the number of incidents has increased the data must also reflect the increase in overall population. I think what has definitely changed is peoples' perception and awareness to the horrors of bullying, thus creating the surge you speak of. I agree with the previous posts that cite the new technologies as new venues for the bully to exploit. However, there is no doubt in my mind that school administrators are held more accountable with regard to bullying inside or outside of school than say 35 years ago. Therefore, the school building leader who is engaged in promoting a positive school climate would seek to educate the their students, and parents about the seriousness of bullying. In addition, the topic of bullying finds is now addressed in many local community centers.
F.Y.I.- Several of our English classes read Please Stop Laughing at Me... By Jodee Blanco. The students are not only moved, they are enlightened. Although I do not teach this class, I never hesitate to tell my co-worker that the kids are talking about the book, asking me questions about the book...in other words the students are reading...moreover the students are learning an essential life lesson...never take part...and never walk away from someone being deliberately hurt...help them...
I think the current social and political climate in this country is affecting our students more than we realize. There seems to be an inordinate amount of rude, obnoxious, confrontational, aggressive, cruel, hateful, and ignorant adult behavior for young people to model. When adults publicly bully other people and groups of adults act in concert to bully other members of society, why wouldn't many children and teens internalize this kind of behavior?
Children develop empathy from being treated with empathy; they learn to be kind just as they learn how to swim or ride a bike. Bullying is a reflection of adult irresponsibility and failure.
I think that with the advent of text and internet bullying it seems that for the numbers of victims - which I agree has probably not increased significantly - the bullying can now pervade almost every waking moment. Unless a victim wants to avoid all social contact, there are so many ways a bully can stalk and victimise in relative anonymity and with little controls. I am glad I am no longer a teenager...
I think perhaps the bullying has simply changed over the years and we're much more sensitive to the types of bullying going on today. While there is still undoubtedly the element of physical bullying, the level of verbal taunting and denigration which is as strong as it's ever been--and I think we're as sensitive as we've ever been to that particular thing. Clearly bullying is horrible and needs to be stopped by adults in authority who can impact the problem; however, I do think we've gotten a little too defensive about some things. No excuse for bullying, just a commentary on society.
I think perhaps other editors are correct in identifying the rise in technology as offering alternative and easier ways to bully and perhaps in a more psychologically damaging way. Likewise the media can shine more attention on particularly grim cases, perhaps skewing the perceptions of the number of cases there actually are.
I agree that there most likely has not been an increase in the number of bullying cases--just an increase in the publicity of it and perhaps a rise in the victims' response to the bullying.
However, the type of bullying occurring currently does seem to be more malevolent and life-changing. While admittedly we do live in a politically correct society and some interpret any "insensitive" comment or posting as bullying, recent cases of bullying do seem more extreme and paint a picture of an Americathat has lost its moral compass. You have probably heard about the case in Michigan which involves an adult neighbor bullying a seven-year-old girl who is dying of Huntington's disease and who lost her mother to the disease. The neighbor posted disturbing images on her Facebook account of the little girl's face in a skull and bones background as well as her deceased mother in the arms of the Grip Reaper--all because she had a grudge against the girl's grandmother. Incidents such as this or the recent Rutger's suicide associated with cyber bullying suggest that some Americans conscientiously set aside their moral obligation to consider others' feelings and well-being.
I am not sure how much is an increase in bullying versus how much is an increase in publicity about the bullying. Students are exposed to more violence and pressures outside of school as the economy gets tougher. Many are not sure how to deal with the pressures they are dealing with, so they want to make other fell worse. Bullying is often a sign of a person with a weak self-esteem. They need to knock others down to feel better about themselves. Some of the increase may be related to social networking sites. Some might be related to increases in number of kids being diagnosed with ADD and other medical problems.
The one middle school student I had who was the biggest bully in class probably had ADD, but his parents refused to accept that as an option. He could tell when he was losing focus and to curb his frustration and anger with himself, he would lash out at other students. He had been able to get through the early years of elementary school with no problems, but by late elementary school and middle school, he really struggled and the bullying increased significantly, as did his feeling like an outcast.
Everyone has spoken my mind for me, but I'd like to add to the social networking dimension. The anonymity offered on the internet ends virtually all social constraints on behavior. Thus people feel freer, in an often negative way. People suffer few or no consequences for their behavior, and there are no voices of conscience speaking for morality. It's not just children or teenagers either. Consider the recent example of a mother creating a fake myspace for a classmate of her child, and posting obscene and threatening content. Why would a functioning adult even contemplate this? I feel it is in a large part due to the lack of social boundaries in the medium.
I think post #2 pretty much nails it. Bullying has been around a very long time, it's just that very little has been done about it until recently, and the availability of MySpace, Facebook and texting--impersonal electronic relationships that more easily lead to bullying and harassment--all have led to more dramatic and extreme cases of this kind of behavior. It also means that the suicides and deaths that have sometimes resulted have been very widely publicized.
I agree with both of the previous posts. I don't believe there has really been a rise in bullying over the years. There were bullies around when I attended junior high school (elementary school seemed rather calm) in the 1960s, and there have been bullies in virtually every class in which I have taught in the past 25+ years. (Oddly, bullies aren't as numerous in college.) Sadly, school administrators do not take immediate action in many cases, since second and third chances seem to often be the norm. I have had to direct bullied kids to "tell your daddy" on many occasions when they got no satisfaction from weak-kneed principals and deans. I believe there may be more gang-related acts of bullying these days than in the past but, as the previous post noted, we are more aware of the acts today due to the more modern modes of communication--Internet, texts, videos, etc.
I would agree that the surge is in the awareness of the bullying. In recent weeks the suicides have really brought it to the forefront. As someone else mentioned there are so many ways to bully someone in today's world that it is harder to ignore and harder to combat.
First of all, I would take issue with the premise of the question -- has there really been a surge in bullying? At least in the US (I don't know where you are) I do not really think there has been. But let us suppose there has been. I would offer two possible reasons:
- Social networking on the internet. I think that the internet opens up new possibilities for bullying people. You can, to some extent, avoid being bullied in person. But it is much harder to escape it online. So this new opportunity for bullying might be a factor.
- I think that our society is becoming less responsible. We are losing the idea that we have a duty to be good neighbors and instead we think mostly of our own rights and our own desires. This is a more selfish culture and it may well lead to bullying because bullies think only of themselves and not of their impact on others.