There is no question that bullying in schools has been on the increase in the last few years. The question is how to prevent it. Recently, an article was published that identified risk factors for bullying in grade school students. The risk factors identified were gender (being male had a higher risk), hostility, low parental involvement, exposure to media violence, physical victimization and prior physical fights. The article went on to say that having one or two risk factors didn't significantly increase a child's risk for violence, but 3 or more was associated a great increase in risk.
The article made headlines, because it mentioned exposure to media violence as a risk factor. It emphasized this finding, as this is a factor for bullying that can be manipulated, or changed. You cannot change whether or not a child was in a fight in the past, but you can limit his exposure to violence. I agree that this can and should be limited. However, several other risk factors can be manipulated. The other 2 risk factors that should be considered are low parental involvement and physical victimization. These 2 risk factors for bullying include such things as exposure to domestic violence, a history of child abuse and absent or disinterested parents. It may come as a shock to you that some parents are truly disinterested in the task of being a parent, but I have met many. I assure you, it shocks me every time I meet one.
The article on bullying came close on the heels of another article. This one demonstrated a link between spanking in childhood and adult mental disorders. You should note that this article does not refer to a little swat on the bottom, but to the routine use of force for discipline.
America must get control on the bullying epidemic that is plaguing our nation. I agree with the use of profiling to see which students are at risk for such behaviors, but only if it is used to get them counseling. I agree that our children see way too much violence in the media and their exposure should be limited. However, we as parents need to ban together and go even further. It is time that the bully, the bullied and the bystander and their parents sat down together. We cannot expect our children and their teachers to solve this alone. Parents have to get involved. Parents have to take a stand and set limits. Some parents may have to change their own behaviors. Research the problem and what you can do. Make a plan, then follow through. You'll be glad you did.
For the good of the children
~Dr. Nan N~