What do you think has created such a surge of bullying incidents?

Expert Answers
dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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...

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

hustoncmk eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.  

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

justaguide eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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...

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
There is most definitely more awareness out there concerning bullying and all the damage it can cause. In addition, social networking sites make it easier for people to bully others. There have been numerous occasions where kids have been bullied so severely that they ended up committing suicide.
lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

crystaltu001 | Student

There are many many causes to bullying. First of all it could be the parents fault for not teaching their kids right, kids need someone to look up too and most of the time it is their parents so teaching your kids the right way won't cause bullying. Another way is the internet. People can cyber bully online because most of the time their identity is hidden so the one being bullied won't know who they are.

the surge of bullying has been caused, in my opinion, by parenting failures in most cases. bullies are people who make fun of others or harass others constantly. i feel like parents have stopped teaching kids to be accepting of all kinds of people and to help people in needs. most kids whoa re bullies often do it to feel powerful as well, so if more parents taught kids to deal with their emotions of wanting to have more friends or being popular, they wouldent be so power hungry and wouldn't pick on other kids to maintain that power. 

kellisa | Student

Our constant exposure to perfection on TV and in films, advertising, etc., has made my students scornful of anyone they find less than perfect, including themselves.  "Ugly" is their favorite epithet.  I wonder how much the unrealistic standards of our society contribute to the disdain students feel for those who don't live up to some idea of perfection, whether in fashion, looks or behavior.

Of course this doesn't explain 'power bullying' such as the incident in the school near me last week, where a group of boys tried to de-pants younger boys in the locker room and take pictures, with the object of putting the photos online.  That, to me, is inexplicable and is done by females, as well, but in a different, hidden way.

ljmorris | Student
What do you think has created such a surge of bullying incidents?

What do you think has created such a surge of bullying incidents?

As an inner-city teacher for many decades, I definitely see an increase in bullying, both in number of incidents and severity. I feel there are several sources interacting with each other. First, children are becoming more and more independent, and at younger ages. Technology has a lot to do with this, and that also can be a good thing. However, the kinds of media messages bombarding our kids treat sex and violence as sources of entertainment (Think Saw IV!). Children, and, yes, adults too, ARE influenced by media messages - othewise, why would companies invest billions in advertizing? They know most people will buy if they hear the message enough - well, our kids hear the messages of violence and insensitivity constantly, and from all sides. Sure, there are plenty of anecdotes about "good kids" who are not influenced. But there are too many who do not have the support, nor the internal means, to sort the good apples from the bad. And with the varitey of technologies, bad apples can go global with the click of a mouse. Furthermore, images delivered by TV, Internet, radio, etc. seem to acquire an instant, unquestioned validation.
     Our nation, with all the talk of education reform, still has not taken the subject of medial education seriously. We need to get deadly serious about teaching our young about media, and giving them the means to make intelligent and productive decisions that could one day save their lives.

booklover342 | Student

Just generally mocking someone because of weight, looks, or height has problably been a contrubution to bullying. People are expected to look a certian way or weigh a certian amount, as said in magazines. Also, a child could be having problems at home such as abuse, phisical sexual or emotional, and this could carry over into how they treat other people. I do agree that bullying has become out of hand and has increased.

aspecial1 | Student

I agree that there is not a surge in the incidents involving bullying but a surge in reporting and the violence connected to it.  Since the inception of social networking bullying has attracted more attention because people are able to share/vent the secrets that they kept to themselves.  Parents do not monitor emails or chat sites to combat this type of antisocial behavior.  In many cases, parents are just as stunned as everyone else that their child could be capable of such cruelty.

I can relate to how some parents never know their child is being bullied.  I still remember growing up and being bullied by classmates because I could read better or had a better understanding of the lesson.  I feared telling anyone because I didn't want to "rock the boat".  Eventually, I did tell my mother but by then the bully had found another prey.

I am sure parents (now that I'm a parent) can tell when something is wrong with their child.  Either they exhibit antisocial behavior or they show signs of being intimidated.  The only thing to do is to confront the situation head on.  Stop turning a blind eye to the fact that YOUR child is making  someone life miserable.  Get help for them now before it's too late.

mrchrisdonovan | Student
What do you think has created such a surge of bullying incidents?

What do you think has created such a surge of bullying incidents?

It could be that society as a whole is mearly becoming more compasionate and caring about people who are being bullied.  And more aware of bullying thanks to the internet and ubiquitus instant communication. These two considerations have helped to shine a spotlight on a phenomenon that has been here the whole time, but was never before given the attention and consideration it deserves.

Everyone knows of "The School Bully", whether you were bullied by him/her or not.  It is a role that is created in every school, and then a student is assigned to that role.  Most of the time without thourough understanding of why said student is acting that way(home situation/socializing problems,etc.)

Before this upsurge in critical examination of bullying, it was just accepted as part of natural order, that there would always be bullying and that was 'okay' because "it built character" or "it seperated the men from boys" or some other such deflection.



deesmith09 | Student
What do you think has created such a surge of bullying incidents?

What do you think has created such a surge of bullying incidents?

I also agree that bullying has been around since schools have been created. However, I feel that students get away with more disciplinary problems than they did say 20, 30, or 40 years ago. Teachers are not allowed to truly discipline students and I believe that this also causes them to "turn the other direction" if they see something going on.

In my opinion children today are desensitized to the point of not truly grasping the effects of thier actions. Some of this stems from the video games that they play, the lack of one on one interaction through texting etc., and the movies/television that they watch.

madmathshoes | Student

Bullying has not become more prevalent merely more publicly acknowledged. Documentation of acts that would qualify as bullying have been called " hazing " and " initiation " ; they have long been considered " rights of passage ". We simply know more about the way that people treat others that are misunderstood , subjects of ridicule and just plain " different " . With that having been said , bullying must be monitored more closely and addressed properly. We must make a more conscious effort to notice more events in our classroom. Research indicates that roughly 4% of daily incidents actually get addressed by administrators and teachers. We simply must be more vigilant in these matters.

epollock | Student

The pressures of ordinary school life, whether a student is good or bad, drive students to such abnormal behavior nowadays. The best students and the worst students can be guilty of bullying for any number of reasons, but primarily relates to the stresses of school, no matter how many and from what they derive.