The problem of school bullying is widely discussed by modern researchers since it affects a great number of teenagers annually. Speaking about the key characteristics of the issue, it is pivotal to note that bullying involves the use of power, position, or manipulations with the sense of fear in order to intimidate people, strengthen social stratification, or pursue personal goals. Bullying can be caused by differences between students, and the existing assessment and support options contribute to improving the situation.
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The Issue and Related External Stressors
Being a victim of bullying is detrimental to teenagers’ psychological and physical health. In an attempt to prevent its effects on the national health, forty-nine states have implemented anti-bullying initiatives since 1999 (Holt, Green, Tsay-Vogel, Davidson, & Brown, 2017). The consequences of school bullying include self-harm, the development of depression, and even suicide intentions, and this is why these legislations are particularly important.
Moreover, there are certain external stressors related to becoming a victim of school bullying, and they refer to the most common causes of animosity between teenagers. These stressors can include being a new student, belonging to racial/ethnic/language/sexual minorities, communication problems, physical and mental issues, or financial vulnerability. The presence of these factors does not necessarily make a teenager a victim of bullying. However, knowing that teenagers’ hate is often based on the seeming or actual differences, these stressors are associated with significant risks.
Assessment Strategies and Ethical Parameters
In order to screen for school bullying in teenagers, it is possible to use the assessment strategies based on surveys and physical examinations. As for the latter, the actions of bullies are not always limited to verbal threats, and this is why regular physical exams can help detect the causes of bullying and domestic violence. As for other assessment options, the methods currently used by mental health professionals include observations, self-report questionnaires, and interviews (Blake, Banks, Patience, & Lund, 2014). Along with the use of student profiles, these methods can be applied to screen for external stressors.
Given the absence of unified national guidelines, assessment questions may vary across various educational institutions. At a minimum, they include questions about the presence of unwanted incidents, their frequency, and consequences (Blake et al., 2014).
The additional facts that I would ask about to better understand the situation would be presented by absenteeism-related intentions, recent psychological changes, anxiety, the supposed causes of conflicts with peers, and the role of teachers in their resolution. In terms of the ethical parameters, the things not to be disclosed to parents or guardians should be defined by victimized students. Such facts can include belonging to sexual minorities, romantic/sexual relationships with peers, religious choices, and other personal factors. However, the rule should not be applied to cases of drug/alcohol abuse, asocial behavior, crime, and unlawful sexual contact.
There are numerous support options for students who are victimized at school or experience external stressors, but they should be chosen individually based on particular cases. The available options include school bullying hotlines, psychological support groups for teenage victims, and state-based training programs (Marshall, Yarber, Sherwood-Laughlin, Gray, & Estell, 2015). Additionally, in order to support the victims of bullying, it is possible to organize diversity training for their classmates, implement correcting interventions for bullies, or even let the bullied student visit another school (Blake et al., 2014). Therefore, all students who report cases of bullying can receive timely psychological help.
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To sum it up, school bullying is an important issue faced by numerous teenagers in the United States and all over the world. Given its negative consequences for psychological and physical well-being, the presence of comprehensive assessment strategies is extremely important. Nowadays, school specialists across the country use observations, questionnaires, self-reports, and psychological testing to detect cases of bullying. The provision of support becomes possible due to the existence of psychological support groups, hotlines, and the opportunity to organize school-based training sessions for teenagers.
Blake, J. J., Banks, C. S., Patience, B. A., & Lund, E. M. (2014). School-based mental health professionals’ bullying assessment practices: A call for evidence-based bullying assessment guidelines. Professional School Counseling, 18(1). Web.
Holt, M. K., Green, J. G., Tsay-Vogel, M., Davidson, J., & Brown, C. (2017). Multidisciplinary approaches to research on bullying in adolescence. Adolescent Research Review, 2(1), 1-10.
Marshall, A., Yarber, W. L., Sherwood-Laughlin, C. M., Gray, M. L., & Estell, D. B. (2015). Coping and survival skills: The role school personnel play regarding support for bullied sexual minority-oriented youth. Journal of School Health, 85(5), 334-340.