Many of my school memories growing up are not as positive as I would have liked them to be. My earliest memory of being bullied in school actually started in Kindergarten. I can remember being the only child that could not spell or write their name. I remember sitting there at my desk and crying because I could not do it. My teacher’s reaction was one of comfort and support. The students on the other hand were less supportive. I can remember them making fun of me and laughing at me while I was crying. As I entered first grade school became harder for me. It was hard to understand what I needed to learn. Eventually I had to be retained in that year. I can remember feeling so embarrassed and ashamed of myself. I remember the next year my former class made fun of me on the playground for having to repeat the grade.
As the years went on I became very quiet and very shy. Even though we were all maturing the bullying continued. I can remember other students laughing at my appearance and making jokes about me. I was teased about being poor and the way I looked. I can remember dreading school everyday. I didn’t say anything to any adults including my parents for fear that it might get worse. I can say that I tried every thing to fit in but nothing seemed to work.
When I left elementary school and headed to middle school I thought that things might change. Unfortunately it was the same thing. This time it got worse. It went from calling me names to making fun of me for slowly developing physically. I think I tried to take it all in stride because I felt that when I grew up it would all be different. I believed deep in my heart that I was going to be better than all of this.
As I entered high school the bullying actually became less and less. I decided to join track and field. It was great. Even though I was not bullied the damage had already been done. I lacked self-confidence and my self-esteem was very low.
According to Van Der Wal (2003) bullying is generally viewed as a specific form of aggression. Bullying is best described as repeated and lasting negative actions of one or more children directed to a specific child. (pg. 1312) There are two different types of bullying: direct and indirect. Direct bullying includes physical and verbal aggression, such as kicking, hitting and name calling. Indirect bullying includes aspects of social isolation such as ignoring, excluding, and backbiting. In Van Der Wal’s(2003) study it was found that direct bullying is more frequent in boys and indirect bullying is more frequent in girls. The study found that girls who were bullied directly reported depression as compared to girls who were not bullied directly. The impact of being bullied on depression was higher for indirect than direct. Throughout school I dealt with depression and low self-esteem. I felt as though there was nothing that I could have done in order for it to stop. I felt isolated because I had no one to talk to.
As I went from elementary school to middle school is when the bullying began to have a major effect on me. During this time I just felt that I wanted to fit in. According to research it is during early adolescence, the function and importance of the peer group change dramatically (Crockett, Losoff, & Petersen, 1984; Dornbusch, 1989). Adolescents, seeking autonomy from their parents, turn to their peers to discuss problems, feelings, fears, and doubts, thereby increasing the salience of time spent with friends (Sebald, 1992; Youniss & Smollar, 1985). However, this reliance on peers for social support is coupled with increasing pressures to attain social status (Corsaro & Eder, 1990; Eder, 1985). Research indicates that appearance is a central determinant of social status among girls (Eder, 1995). Some researchers believe that the pressure to gain peer acceptance and status may be related to an increase in teasing and bullying. This I found was true, because every time I tried to “fit in” it never worked.
Even though I was bullied in school I was able to persevere through it. I know that it did affect me on different levels. I can say that I still do not like talking in front of large crowds of adults. I take my time when I am getting dressed for work to make sure that I look my best.
Today, I am a kindergarten teacher. I have been teaching for about nine years now. I have taught mostly in inner-city schools. I enjoy teaching there because I can relate as to what they are going through. I make sure that my students feel welcomed in my class. I try to show them that they are all equal and that no one person is better than the other. As bullying is concerned or putting another student down I have one rule. The rule is for every put down you make to another classmate you must tell them seven wonderful things about them. I believe that it takes about seven positive things to make up for one negative.
Bullying has become an increasing problem in many schools across the world. Students who are being bullied are taking matters into their own hands instead of seeking help from adults. Van Der Wal (2003) found that victims of bullying fear retaliation from the bully, are afraid they will not be believed, or perceive their situation in the long run as normal. As a result bullying can take place for many years without being noticed by adults. Indirect bullying is less visible and thus harder to prove. This is perhaps the reason why victims are much less inclined to tell an adult about indirect forms of bullying. In addition, many teachers do not consider social exclusion a form of bullying, or consider this form of bullying as less harmful. For these reasons, interventions at primary schools to stop bullying must pay attention to indirect forms of bullying. (p. 1315-1316)
There is not one easy solution to bullying. There are reasons why children bully others and why they pick there victims. I feel that that the solution starts at home. If parents or caregivers allow their children to open up about what is going on in their lives without fear that they will be ignored then the first steps to stopping bullying can take place. Many times families are too busy to take time and listen to their children’s concerns. They might feel that it is just a phase or it will go away in time. This defeats all solutions to the problem.
School bullying can be stopped in schools. School administrators should be encouraged to create a climate in which students themselves understand the importance of coming forward and warning of impending violence. Strategies designed to combat bullying, such as peer mediation, conflict resolution, anger management and zero tolerance programs that are being implemented in some schools should be encouraged.
Crockett, L., Losoff, M., & Petersen, A. C. (1984). Perceptions of the peer group and friendship in early adolescence. JOURNAL OF EARLY ADOLESCENCE, 4(2), 155-181.
Corsaro, W. A., & Eder, D. (1990). Children's peer cultures. ANNUAL REVIEW OF SOCIOLOGY, 16, 197-220.
Dornbusch, S. M. (1989). The sociology of adolescence. ANNUAL REVIEW OF SOCIOLOGY, 15, 233-259.
Eder, D. (1985). The cycle of popularity: Interpersonal relations among female adolescents. SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION, 58(3), 154-165. EJ 322 823.
Youniss, J., & Smollar, J. (1985). ADOLESCENT RELATIONS WITH MOTHERS, FATHERS, AND FRIENDS. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
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