Bullying Is Abuse

4 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

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I read this article today.  I found it thought-provoking, but not for the obvious reasons.  As I read the "signs of bullying" list (losing things, unexplained bruises, complaining of illness, avoidance, changes in personality or demeanor, sleep disruption, changes in eating, bullying others, lower academic performance) I had to glance again at the title of the article. Am I reading about bullying? This is a list of typical warning signs of abuse. Unfortunately, I have taught for enough years to be familiar with this list.  I have always thought that bullying was abuse, but many people disagree.  When  a teacher suspects that a child is being abused, s/he is mandated to report it.  What about bullying?  What does a teacher do when a child says s/he is being bullied?  

Because the result of bullying is often "invisible," (mental and emotional harm vs. a visible scar) victims of bullying often suffer without help.  It may be one student's word against another.  The bullying may go unanswered, thus giving bullies a silent go-ahead to continue bullying.  Victims may just be out of luck.  

What if there is an anti-bullying policy in the school?  If a school has an anti-bullying policy, that document must be enforced if bullying is to be taken seriously and eventually stop there.  In my opinion, this process has to happen for the policy (and the institution) to have credibility.  Teachers and administrators are the ones with power in these situations. They cannot shrug it off as "kids will be kids" any longer!  Educators should be advocates for children and follow through with anti-bullying measures.  Bullying is abuse and must be reported and dealt with as abuse.

* I ran across the Anti-Bullying Rules above in a high school women's restroom.  A seemingly odd placement for such a placard, it caught me by surprise and I stopped to read it.  If it were posted in the hall, I might have walked past it without even noticing...

 

Bonnie L. Frank

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