It's Happening: Getting into the Nitty Gritty of Bullying

By Julie Perine on October 06, 2019 from It’s Happening via Connect-Bridgeport.com

It’s National Bullying Prevention Month. Nationally and locally, efforts are being made to curtail the behavior – or better yet, put a stop to it.
But what constitutes bullying?
 
I went to school in the 1960s and ‘70s and though I remember kids picking on other kids and teasing – and by high school, heard stories of boys threatening to beat up other boys, but I don’t remember much talk about bullying.
 
I mean, obviously, it’s always been around. But according to my Internet search, there wasn’t a lot of research into the behavior until the 1970s – and that was when psychologist Dan Olweus began to study the phenomenon in Norwegian schoolchildren.
 
In recent years, guidelines have been established to define bullying, which had become quite a buzz word. According to stopbullying.gov., an official Web site of the U.S. government, between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 students say they have been bullied at school. Approximately 30 percent of young people admit to bullying others. A whopping 70 percent of young people say they have witnessed bullying in school. And get this, whey bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57 percent of the time.
 
I talked to some school counselors at Bridgeport schools to get a better grip on the definition of bullying.
 
Kristina Robinson, freshman/sophomore counselor at Bridgeport High School, said bullying is repeated, unwanted aggressive behavior that tends to be perceived as an imbalance of power.
 
Verbal bullying is more prevalent at BHS, particularly among 9th and 10th graders; the group of students with which she works.
 
“These are mostly relationship attempts and efforts to harm relationships or reputation with others – spreading rumors,” she said.
 
That relationship bullying is especially prevalent among girls, Robinson said.
 
Though physical bullying is a real thing, she said she doesn’t see as much of that.
 
Of course, cyberbullying – through social media – is another problem.
 
“It makes it easy to be cohort with bullying,” she said.
 
Robinson said the statistics – that up to 1 in 3 students are bullied – is alarming, eye-opening and sad.
 
“We have 815 students (at BHS), so that’s a great deal of our student population,” she said. “That’s shocking to me.”
 
Robinson said there are instances when someone tells her about an instance of bullying, but they don’t want it reported to school administration in fear the situation will get worse. It’s important, she said, for students being bullied to reach out to some trusted adult.
“If they don’t want to talk to a school counselor, we have wonderful, compassionate teachers,” she said. “They need to have someone they can turn to.” 
 
Robinson said she does feel that educational/awareness efforts about antibullying have played a positive role, educating students about what is and isn’t bullying – and helping them learn coping skills. Regardless, she said it’s still important to report incidents.
 
“I never encourage students to do that – to take to the administration,” she said. “I never enforce, but I do encourage.”
 
Editor's Note: Another blog about bullying is forthcoming – talking with counselors at Bridgeport Middle School and Johnson elementary.



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