A terrible incident that had happened to a fifteen-year-old teenager has caused public’s gossips, discussions and panic. A suicide in Tottenville did not leave anybody indifferent; “Felicia Garcia leapt to her death at the Huguenot train station on Staten Island this week” (Baker, Maag, 2012). According to the investigation described in “The New York Times” provided by Baker and Maag (2012), the girl’s classmates and friends are sure that bullying from the football players has led to such a horrible ending of her life. The reasons for bullying seemed to be her piercing and sexual boasts (p. A27). This story astonished all the people around the world and made them to pay attention to a growing nation, to one of the most difficult and problematic categories of population – to the teenagers. The peers and adults do not understand that all people are equal and limiting somebody’s rights is a kind of crime. At school teachers and principals try to do their best to fight against bullying, but they are not able to prevent it because in order to stop bullying, parents, government and school should work together.
The thing is that the cases of suicides and deaths of young people are happening more and more often. This is due to bullying. Let us get to know exactly what bullying is. “Bullying is repeated oppression, psychological or physical, of a less powerful person or group of persons” (Rigby, 2007). By the way, “we need to bear in mind that bullying is often done by groups” (p.15). The case of bullying is common, especially, in the secondary schools, where one can meet children of different social and religious background, academic skills, behavior and nationality. According to the statistics taken from the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC) study, one can see that the level of bullying at school is extremely high, does not fall and is not going to fall in future. The survey was conducted in 2010, and 26,078 young Canadians from 436 schools participated (Craig, Schumann, 2010).
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Mary Jo McGrath (2002) distinguishes the following types of bullying: physical, emotional and relational. Physical bullying is recognized as “harm to another person’s or property”; emotional bullying is defined as “harm to another’s self-concept” and relational bullying is described as “harm to another through damage (or the threat of damage) to relationships or to feelings of acceptance, friendship or group inclusion” (McGrath, 2006). All of these types of bullying are very dangerous to children, because even such a trivial thing as a name-calling can lead to the emotional disorders and the decrease of self-worth. No matter how strong the personality of a child may be, still the consequences of it are self-damaging.
It is necessary to provide the school bullying statistics according to the Bureau of Justice for people to understand the gravity of the problem. As a result, “thirty percent of the U.S. students are involved in moderate and frequent bullying – as bullies, as victims, both”, “one out of four kids is bullied”, each day 160 000 students miss school for fear of being bullied” (Rudolph 2011). Moreover, “100 000 students carry gun to school” and “87% of said shootings are motivated by a desire to “get back at those who have hurt them” (p.103).
It is high time to identify the reasons for bullying from the side of offenders. Some of them offend others because of inner feelings of envy, malice, jealousy, revenge. These feelings are controlled by people, and they are developing with a personality growth. They can appear because of conflicts with a surrounding world and other individuals. For example, because of a boy’s jealousy towards his ex-girlfriend, she is being gossiped about; and, as a result, she cannot bear her life any more.
Another reason for bullying cannot be controlled by a person and it is connected with his or her upbringing. Most offenders are brought up in problem families, their parents are criminals, they take drugs or they are alcoholics or, maybe, they left their child and went abroad or even they are dead. Such situations are observed more and more often. A situation at South Hadley High School in Massachusetts proves it. Phoebe Prince, a freshman, committed a suicide, “hanging herself from a stairwell in January” (Eckholm, 2010). She was only sixteen and could enjoy all life entertainments, but the life was cruel to her. Phoebe was bullied by her classmates. “The taunting started when she had a brief relationship with a popular senior boy; some students knocked books out of her hands and sent her threatening text messages, day after day” ( Eckholm, 2010). An astonishing fact is that “some teachers, administrators and other staff members at the school were aware of the harassment but did not stop it” (Eckholm, 2010). The consequences are terrible – “nine students had been charged with crimes including harassment, violating civil rights and statutory rape” (Eckholm, 2010). Her offenders were delinquents, brought up in the unhappy families. They were unlucky in their lives and the only satisfaction they got was bullying others in order to express the malice they had gotten from their parents and the surrounding environment.
This is worth mentioning that the consequences of bullying at school are horrible, because they can lead to expulsions, running away from home, suicides or imprisonment. This is a real disaster, because children and teenagers are future, they are hope and support. If there is such a situation at schools and colleges, the places where people are taught and brought up, humanity is doomed to a downfall. The only way out is to save the youth and help them to rise. People must act as soon as possible in order to improve the situation and change the future.
Firstly, the responsibility falls on the teachers and principals at educational establishments. They substitute parents outside homes and they have to bear responsibility for the students. Education plays a great role not only in the development of mental abilities but also social and communicative skills of students. The teacher is a person who is obliged to create individuals with their own opinions and moral values. This is the most important task! It is not so easy to establish the good relations in a classroom environment and develop a friendly atmosphere among teenagers.
Nowadays the students are not afraid of their teacher at all. They are free to forget about their homework, and to be rude to their teachers. Students are not afraid of punishments, expulsions and satisfactory marks as it was in the past. Earlier such methods of punishment as caning, standing in the corner, wearing funny hats and detention were used. The students were ashamed of their improper behavior and tried to do their best not to be losers. Of course, now a teacher will not use such a punishment because of new psychological approaches and ways to communicate with students. People live in a modern world where a corporal punishment is excluded in order to value every student, each individuality and not to offend a person’s dignity.
It is evident that the modern methods of upbringing at schools are useless. In spite of different psychologists who are working at every educational establishment, a new “ill” generation is growing. The teachers are not the ideals of inner and outer beauty for students to follow. A necessary chain of subordination is lost in the modern system of studying. It does not look like this anymore.
The main thing, which is important for prosperous relations between the teachers and the students, is a leadership of the latter. A person cannot choose the profession of a teacher, but he or she is born to become one. Only gifted people should be taken on. Taking into consideration the case with Phoebe Prince it must be admitted that there is a great fault of the teachers in committing a suicide by a cute young girl. They knew about Phoebe’s humiliation but did not take any decisions and measures to improve the situation.
Besides, student’s moral side, conscience and sympathy should be developed at school. In order to do it, a lot of the extra-curricular activities after classes must be provided. For instance, a useful piece of advice for the teachers is to organize reviews of educational, didactic films and discus them afterwards. Usually it is interesting for the students to prove their point of view, to discuss arguments and counter-arguments and find like-minded people.
Additionally, students must be engaged in an active participation in hobby groups, literary societies, theatre clubs and so on. They will have close communication with one another, get to know each other better and, mainly, they will be under teachers’ surveillance. Some famous singers, dancers, poets or sportsmen may be invited to encourage students for further success in life. When teenagers are always busy with some activity or studying, they have no time for tricks or finding faults with somebody else.
There is not enough religious education at schools. In spite of the fact, that nowadays there are different religions in the world, and there are students of different religious groups at one class, still some common things unite them. The most important one is that religion teaches people to be kind-hearted, merciful and be afraid of God’s wrath. “Religion is a serious object of choice for people deciding how to live. Many people draw from religions as sources of insight about morality, social justice, and civic duty” (Greenawalt, 2005). Religion unites people and brings comfort to their lives. One needs to study religion, because this is a kind of self-development. He or she is able to enrich one’s inner world with the help of religion. It is not a secret that there are many situations when people turn to God and this belief sets their mind at rest.
By the way, one can meet very different students at school. There are boys and girls with disorders or the students who were brought up in the unhappy families. The task of teachers is to help others to accept them and to feel comfortable in a classroom’s environment. Some beneficial help must be provided, including common efforts of students and teachers. Moreover, the teachers should talk with students and develop their sense of responsibility for their classmates and friends.
However, the teachers cannot cope with delinquency alone. This is not only the problem of a school. Teachers must actively cooperate with parents because upbringing is a primary source of all problems. If a child is unhappy at home, if he or she observes violence every day, this very person will act alike outside home, while communicating with friends and classmates. It is impossible to influence a child if his or her parents are of the opposite point of view. In this case, the teachers must find support in the social institutions that are protecting the rights of the kids. Moreover, parents' meeting is an inevitable part of a studying process. They must know everything that is going on in the life of their kids in order to control them and help if necessary.
A parent may observe that his or her child is being bullied. The first signs are unwillingness to visit school, loss of appetite, tricky answers as for the general state of health, bad mood, irritation without a proper reason, or loss of confidence. As a result, parents should act immediately. Useful pieces of advice are: to spend more time with the children in order to find out the problems and enjoy life together, to encourage a child to find friends and to take part in the different competitions, to visit some clubs, to show how to behave confidently and be independent of somebody else’s opinion.
In the first story about a girl named Felicia Garcia, one can notice that she was brought up in a broken home and for other students she seemed to be unequal and strange. Parents did not take any part in her private and social life; this is why a name-calling and a teasing have led to such terrible consequences. In fact, her relatives could prevent this suicide but they were indifferent to the teenager and her problems at school.
It should be stated that psychologists may be of a great help in organizing the comfortable school environment. They must work not only with the students, but also with parents and teachers. Only a qualified psychologist is able to provide the necessary assistance and help. The main task of them is observing the behavior of all students, testing them all the time and talking to them during classes and after them. A psychologist must be easy to come to and express his or her problems and misunderstandings. It would be better if the students know their psychologist very good, especially, while spending time together during travels, picnics and school events. Consequently, a psychologist can become a friend of students and it will be easy for them to share their secrets.
Finally, the attention of a state government to the school problems is not overestimated. They must control the situation and be always ready to give a helping hand and take measures if something is wrong. The government acted quickly in Phoebe Prince’s case, imprisoning the offenders. People can rely on the government and it can help to solve some problems.
“There were 1,722 adolescent and juvenile deaths by suicide in the UK between 1997 and 2003, almost all were young people were aged 15-19, three-quarters were male and overall, the most common methods of suicide were hanging, followed by self-poisoning” (Rigby, 2007). The statistics in the United Kingdom proves that bullying at schools is spreading and is going to reach the enormous amounts. People are obliged to stop it in order not to lose the young generation and the future they can bring. In fact, a person cannot do it himself or herself. Educational establishments, parents and government must have a mutual understanding and cooperation, because this is a huge problem that must be solved here and now.