Free Custom «Bullying in the Classroom» Essay Sample
Bullying is a phenomenon faced by a multiple number of schools nowadays. Solving it is a great challenge for a teacher who strives to create family atmosphere in his or her class. Moreover, a pedagogue at the Christian school faces a situation when his or her approach has to combine teachings of the Bible and modern methods of fighting bullying. In the case of bullying against Tasha, the Christian principle of loving your neighbor and participation of a teacher and students is the best way to achieve the fruit of the Spirit model, which is so anticipated by director Gross.
To understand how to analyze Tasha’s case properly, it is crucial to define the notion of bullying. According to Burden (2017), bullying is “when a person, or group of persons, uses power to harass or intimidate one or more people who have less power” (p. 180). In Tasha’s case, Emily and Keisha used the fact that they were older (Tasha moved to the city only this year) and outnumbered the victim (usually they acted in groups).
Three reported situations correspond to three different types of bullying presented in Burden’s textbook. The first instance of bullying when Emily did not allow Tasha to sit with her and other girls at the lunch table is an example of relational bullying, because Emily prevented Tasha from joining their social group against her will. When Keisha presented an offensive poem about Tasha’s outfit, it was a case of verbal bullying as Keisha’s words were meant to humiliate the victim. The last example of bullying when Emily played a trick upon Tasha belongs to the physical type, since the girl was harmed physically by her classmate. Overall, Tasha faced three out of five types of bullying, apart from cyberbullying that might occur in the future and sexual bullying that seems to be irrelevant in this case.
These actions are even better described by Rettew and Pawlowski (2016) who provide a definition of bullying as “repetitive and intentional aggressive behavior by one individual or group against another in situations where there exists some sort of power differential between the bully and the victim in terms of physical size, social status, or other features” (p. 236). Actions against Tasha were repetitive and intentional. The power difference between Keisha and Emily on the one side and Tasha on the other one lies in the fact that Tasha is a newcomer, while the girls had been studying in that class before. Nevertheless, sometimes girls could communicate with each other without obvious misunderstandings, which indicates that Tasha belongs to the social network of girls in the class. This fact contributes to Rettew and Pawlowski’s claim (2016) that girls bully someone who belongs to their social network more frequently than boys do (p. 236). Therefore, Rettew and Pawlowski’s approach to the bullying might be enlightening for understanding Tasha’s case.
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The situation is complicated, so it requires teacher’s intervention; however, it is not extraordinary. Depending on the methodology and the definition of bullying, its rates vary between 20-30% in American schools with a tendency to decline over time (Rettew and Pawlowski, 2016, p. 236). Nevertheless, it may lead to the dangerous outcomes such as lower performance in studies (especially in middle school) or disorders related to mental health and psychiatry (Rettew and Pawlowski, 2016, p. 236-37). Thus, bullying is manifesting itself in the class as a part of the much broader social phenomenon that negatively affects the children’s lives.
Basing on Rettew and Pawlowski’s research, the cause and possible solution to the bullying against Tasha can be analyzed on individual and group levels. The individual level corresponds to a specific situation of the victim, while the group level concerns more climate and culture in class or school (Rettew and Pawlowski, 2016, p. 237). As mentioned above, the girl’s specific problem is her position as a newcomer in the class and her deprived status in power compared with other girls. On the group level, specific culture of girls to bully someone inside their social network might be the case here. Both levels are intertwined because the culture of ostracism, which was not previously expressed, was triggered by a newcomer, who became a victim of hidden factors. Therefore, a teacher can effectively fight bullying by addressing it on individual and group levels simultaneously.
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On the individual level, both victim and perpetrators are subject to the teacher’s actions. Following Rettew and Pawloski’s recommendations for managing victims of bullying (2016, p. 238), the teacher has to listen to Tasha sympathetically and couch her how to respond to the offenders, for instance, by trying to conceal her emotions. Tasha can also report the cases of bullying to the director Gross anonymously, which is a good practice to fight bullying in the future. Moreover, a good verse from the Bible may help to guide the child in the right direction. In this case, the verse might help Tasha to stay calm, facing offenses against her: “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1, KJV).
Regarding bullies, there should be a combination of methods to change their attitudes. Smith (2016) recommends a restorative approach to the perpetrators, which assumes making bullies aware of the victim’s feeling and encourages them to make reparation (p. 153). The teacher should talk with Emily and Keisha about Tasha’s situation and the level of stress she experiences coming to the new place. The verse from the Bible about loving your neighbors should amplify the effect of this talk: “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9, KJV). Nevertheless, some disciplinary measure should be taken, but its necessity has to be acknowledged by the perpetrators. In general, the main idea of Emily and Keisha’s case is to compensate for their actions, which should educate them how to be good Christians.
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On the group level, affecting attitudes of other classmates is a priority. Smith (2016) shows that working with bullies’ peers is crucial to fighting and preventing bullying in the classroom (p. 151). In particular, talking with the most respected students in the class about protecting victims of bullying and respecting their peers may improve social relations among children (Smith, 2016, p. 152). This is why other classmates’ actions may affect Emily and Keisha’s attitudes more effectively than a conversation with the teacher.
To measure the effectiveness of the aforementioned actions, school administration and the teacher have to monitor the children periodically. Anonymous surveys can be designed following Smith’s essential components that affect bullying: perceptions (why may someone become a bully?), attitudes (how to act when you face bullying?), subjective norms (what do others think about bullying?), and efficacy beliefs (do rightful actions lead to the just results?) (Smith, 2016, p. 158). Answers to these questions indicate changes on the group level, while individual talks after classes with Tasha, Emily, and Keisha show progress in the specific case. Tasha should start to feel a part of a big family where she can count on her classmates in case any difficulties arise. Respectively, Emily and Keisha should feel obliged to help their classmate when he or she faces problems. That is to say that getting to know children’s thoughts periodically is the best way to evaluate how successful school administration and teacher are in establishing the family atmosphere in school.
In conclusion, the teacher must closely interact with his or her students to fight bullying efficiently. To achieve the fruit of the Spirit, which is the main goal of the direct Gross in the case under analysis, the teacher has to monitor attitudes of his/her students and find a personal approach to the victims and perpetrators of bullying. Listening and talking to the students, using the Word of God is the best option for a teacher at a Christian school.
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