Texas Schools Respond to Bullying
Schools in Temple and Belton, Texas have gained publicity as the focus of a study by the Human Rights Watch designed to address the problem of bullying that is currently impacting students throughout the state and across the nation.
Public and private schools alike have been grappling with the onslaught of negative effects brought on by bullying, and administrators from two Texas high schools say that they take bullying very seriously. This is because students who are bullied experience a myriad of negative effects including increased absences, more illnesses and somatic complaints, difficulty achieving to academic potential, social deficits, greater rates of anxiety and depression, and more.
Bullying and Mental Health
Bullying has long seen as a typical part of childhood, but attitudes about bullying have undergone a major shift over the past decade. This is in light of new data that shows a direct correlation between bullying and mental health. Students who are bullied at school or who are cyberbullied via technologies and social networks are at an increased risk for depression that can, if left untreated, lead them to thoughts of suicide and self-harming behaviors. In this digital age, bullying can pervade a young person’s life, meaning that a victim cannot escape his or her aggressor simply by getting off the bus and returning home, as was the case in former years.
But the Texas schools mentioned above are doing their part to ensure that their students have the support they need. All of the districts’ school counselors have masters-level training in mental health and crisis response, and participate in trainings to stay abreast of the latest best practices in these areas. Furthermore, the schools offer preventative education to both students and staff, and this programming is designed to help the entire school population learn about warning signs of bullying, and what to do in response.
The Importance of Reporting
School staff say that one of the biggest challenges in dealing with bullying is not knowing about it when it occurs. Some students may be reluctant to report aggressive behavior, or may not be sure who they should talk to.
But administrators assure students and staff alike that they take reports of bullying very seriously, and when a complaint is made, the building’s administrator will follow up with all who were involved. Then, should it be found that the report is valid, students who engage in harassing or bullying behavior will be disciplined in accordance with the school district’s policies and procedures.
If you or a student you work with is being bullied, be sure to reach out to a teacher or administrator who can connect you with your building’s school counselor. He or she can then meet with the student to offer support, and help to create strategies for preventing further bullying from occurring, and identify any possible symptoms of mental health conditions that may need additional support to resolve.
By working together in unison, school staff and students can join forces to prevent bullying from occurring, and shift their schools’ climate toward a learning environment where all feel safe.