The art of bullying in schools has become a major issue of focus in the education sector. However, many teachers have a problem in dealing with this issue. Teachers have varied values and ways of dealing with this encroaching menace in schools. The rules applied by teachers are therefore inconsistent. The NSW Department of Education and Training illegalizes bullying and harassment in both schools and working places (NSW Dept of Education's State Policy). Individual schools have followed the trend and have stipulated policies on bullying. A good example is the King’s School which has stringent anti bullying policies (Kings School ant bullying policy). There is need to train all teachers regarding the effects of bullying. This paper will focus on the teachers training program on bullying in St. Mary’s High School, Roseville Sydney. This program forms part of their new teachers’ orientation program. Moreover, we will explain bullying as a socio-cultural phenomenon. This paper will also give a case of role playing scenario.
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Bullying can be defined as purposeful intention of harming a person. Bullying can take many shapes including behind the back actions such as writing or emailing distressful, hurtful, offensive, threatening as well as intimidating messages. Bullying may also take more pronounced forms such as kicking, punching, intimidating, embarrassing, taunting, insulting, and pushing. Another form of bullying is sexual harassment. This involves looking down on someone because of their sex, unwanted sexual touching and improper joking. Bullying can also take a racial form. This is where an individual is threatened or insulted because of his or her race. Recently, bullying has taken a modern turn such as texting and cyber bullying (Kings School anti-bullying policy).
Bullying a Social Cultural Phenomenon
Bullying is predominantly a socio-cultural phenomenon. Ethnicity, race, gender, and social class are some of the social environments that lead to bullying. Gender has taken a center stage in bullying. Most of our societies are patriarchal. In schools boys feel justified to oppress girls. Studies prove that boys are notorious for bullying girls. A study on bullying in Australia indicated that only 3.4 percent of the girls bullied the boys while a large percentage, 22.1 percent, of the boys harassed the girls. Therefore, teachers should be trained on the relationship between bullying and sexual orientation (Rigby, K. 2009).
Training Teachers on Bullying
The teacher’s training program should first address the extent of bullies’ prevalence in Australian schools. This should be done by distribution of anonymous learner questionnaires to ascertain the nature and prevalence of bullying at school. The information obtained can be used to determine the number and ration of bullying students to non-bullying. The second part of the program involves role playing. Role playing is the heart of the program since it involves putting theory into actual practice (Rigby, 2009).
Role playing involves the teachers being trained to create a bullying prevention coordinating committee. The committee’s mandate should be to develop anti-bullying school-wide set of rules and regulations. The Bullying Prevention Committee should also formulate a coordinated system for supervising students against breaking these rules and regulations. Teachers are trained to reinforce school rules and regulations against bullying. Furthermore, the program should endeavor to encourage teachers to embark on social counseling. That is, enhancing good behaviors and social norms among students. The trainees on anti-bullying are also advised to develop policies, rules, and regulations such as slogan and behavioral expectations as well as repercussions of being a bully. This training helps teachers identify and counter bullying instances. It also enables implementation of constructive response and modeling to deal with appropriate social interactions (Preventing and Responding to Student Bullying in Schools Policy).
A study on the perception of teachers and their response to gendered harassment in Canadian Secondary Schools show how girls are vulnerable to bullying. However, there is another form of harassment in the gender bullying known homophobic harassment. This form of bullying involves negative verbal, non-verbal, and physical behaviors to those individuals who are considered bisexual, gay, or lesbian. Also subject to this form of harassment are girls who are perceived to be excessively “masculine” or lack sexual interest in their male counterparts (Meyer, 2008).
During the training the teachers are taught concepts on how to identify bullies and those bullied. Some of the symptoms of children who are undergoing bullying at school include those with low self esteem, those who miss schools. It should be noted that the children might be avoiding school because of fear of being bullied. Depression, tears and anger may also be assign of the child in question being bullied. When teachers see children with bruises, torn clothing and cuts they should investigate for possibility of bullying. When parents report that their children are asking for extra money for food, this should be a clue for the teachers that maybe the children are being forced to give out their money. Decline in academics may also signify that a child is being bullied (Kings School anti-bullying policy, 2012)
When teachers investigate and find out the cases of bullying they should administer the right punishment to those involved. However the victims of bullying should be counseled and assured protection by the teachers. The teacher are to be advised in the training to punish the children involved in bullying should be punished by either expelling or suspending them for some specific period which should be subjected to all those involved. The teachers are also taught to hold regular meetings with the students and discuss the importance of maintaining a bully free environment. Furthermore, the teachers should discuss with the students the short and long term effects of bullying on the well being of individuals (Kings School anti-bullying policy, 2012).
Many teachers interviewed in this research noted that they were marginalized at some point in their school life. They were marginalized on the basis of their identities such as gender and race. It is important to note these experiences whether in the professional life or their schooling, affected how teachers handled the issue of bullying amongst their students. These factors also acted as barriers to their involvement in solving cases related to bullying. These teachers felt vulnerable in their schools. The personal experiences of teachers with gendered marginalization make them to be sensitive to bullying cases. But these teachers are just a percentage of those who have faced the reality of bullying. A majority of teachers have been part of this popular culture and therefore are not bothered to deal with bullying (Meyer, 2008).
We have looked at bullying and how programs can be instituted to train teachers to counter this vice. The major issue tackled by this paper was training of teachers on bullying and harassment. However, the training encountered many challenges. Complex administrative structures and responses discourage teachers to report bullying cases. Most of the school’s curriculums are demanding. This makes it difficult to effectively handle bullying cases beyond the classroom. Only a few written policies exist which also makes it almost impossible to handle bullying cases.
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