In order for the students to be able to have a successful learning process at schools, one of the vital factors is for the children to feel safe. In that regard, bullying can be considered a matter of concern that plays a major role in influencing the feel of safety in schools. The attracted domestic and international attention to the issue of bullying put an emphasis on the need to address this issue and thoroughly examine its effects and consequences, specifically on retaining students. In that regard this paper presents and analysis of the issue of bullying in schools and its relation to students’ dropout.
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According to the U.S. Department of Education, bullying is commonly identified as “intentional, repeated hurtful acts, words or other behavior such as name calling, threatening, and/or shunning committed by one or more children against another. Bullying may be physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual in nature.” (“An Excerpt from Dropout Prevention Tools,” 2009). Mistakenly, the problem of bullying is often overlooked and minimized due to the false perception of bullying being a part of the progress of growing up. (Carney & Merrell, 2001). Nevertheless, the raised concern for bullying has been given a legislative context, although this approach is not widely recognized as it should be, where “Several European countries, and 19 states in the United States, have enacted anti-bullying legislation with respect to peer-to-peer bullying in schools.” (Michael B. Greene, 2006).
Mainly these approaches are concerned with the establishment of anti-bullying policies, where despite the legislation was not successful in establishing a consistent definition for bullying. (Michael B. Greene, 2006). Regarding dropouts there is empirical evidence, which suggests that “Those who bully are more likely to drop out of school, use drugs and alcohol, as well as engage in subsequent delinquent and criminal behaviour.” (Morrison, 2002). In addition to the offenders being dropped out, the victims of bullying suffer, in addition to the physical harm, where “Fear may lead to absenteeism, truancy, or dropping out.” (“An Excerpt from Dropout Prevention Tools,” 2009).
Identifying the forms of behavior that can be considered as bullying, the forms include physical, verbal, and relational or social; “Physical bullying (e.g., hitting, pushing, and kicking) and verbal bullying (e.g., name-calling and teasing in a hurtful way) are usually considered to be a direct form, while relational bullying refers to an indirect form of bullying, such as social exclusion and spreading rumors.” (Wang, Iannotti, & Nansel, p. 1). As a gender differentiation, it was shown that boys are more involved in direct bullying, while girls in indirect bullying.
The significance of analyzing bullying as a social phenomenon can be seen through the high rates that brought the attention to such behavior. As of 2009, in analysis of the prevalence of frequent involvement in school bullying was reported to be “29.9%, which included 13.0% as bullies, 10.6% as victims, and 6.3% as both.” (Wang, et al.). Additionally, differentiating the types of bullying at least once in a period of two months reported “20.8% physically, 53.6% verbally, 51.4% socially, or 13.6% electronically. (Wang, et al.).
Accordingly, analyzing the dropout rates for schools, the reports of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in the period of 2004-2005 show 3.0% dropout ratio for grades 9-12, which constitutes for 540,382 students. (“Numbers and Rates of Public High School Dropouts: School Year 2004–05,” 2009). In that regard, a study of the correlation between the dropouts and bullying might be beneficial, where positive correlation might indicate that anti-bullying prevention programs could be effective in reducing dropout rates. Additionally, the research could serve to differentiate student dropout because of bullying based on being the victim or the bullies.
Analyzing school dropouts in the context of bullying, it should be noted that this issue might have wider areas of concern. This concern is caused by long psychological effects both on the victim and the bully. In terms of the bullies, the aggressive behavior if not intervened would might have a reflection on the student’s adult life. Family violence and criminal behavior can be linked to early expressions of aggression in schools during the adolescent years.
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Accordingly, the effects on victims might be expressed in isolation and rejection. In both cases, dropouts from school and academic underachievement might reinforce these effects. Accordingly, the effect of intervention programs focusing on anti-bullying policies and the role of teachers’ can be directly linked to the possible findings of the correlation analysis between bullying and dropouts. It might be implied that the causal effect would difficult to outline in such relation, but nevertheless a positive correlation should serve as an indication for future researches in that matter.
Additionally, studying dropouts, it should be noted that bullying as one of the causes might be related merely to the victim and the bully, where in some cases the atmosphere of fear and safety absence might be affecting bystanders who witness the process and because of the fear of being bullied might prefer to drop out of school rather than report to the teacher.
Carney, A. G., & Merrell, K. W. (2001). Bullying in Schools: Perspectives on Understanding and Preventing an International Problem. School Psychology International, 22(3), 364-382.
An Excerpt from Dropout Prevention Tools. (2009). SCHARGEL Consulting Group. Web.
Michael B. Greene. (2006). Bullying in Schools: A Plea for Measure of Human Rights. Journal of Social Issues, 62(1), 63-79.
Morrison, B. (2002). Bullying and Victimisation in Schools: A Restorative Justice Approach: Australian Institute of Criminology.
Numbers and Rates of Public High School Dropouts: School Year 2004–05. (2009). National enter for Education Statistics. Web.
Wang, J., Iannotti, R. J., & Nansel, T. R. School Bullying Among Adolescents in the United States: Physical, Verbal, Relational, and Cyber. Journal of Adolescent Health, In Press, Corrected Proof.