Majority Rules Schools

How schools facilitate bullying by ignoring students

Murray NEB.-Bullying within schools has been a prevalent aspect of our society for decades. It has become so much of a common problem that it is the storyline in most movies, tv shows, and songs about teenage life. With bullying being such a problem, one would think that there would have been a solution by now. However, no matter how many movies are made, campaigns are enforced in schools, or commercials on the effects of bullying are streamed on TV, there never seems to be an end to the relentless tormenting from peers plaguing our nation’s schools. Whether it is a disparity in the way that the so-called “bullies” were raised, or a survival of the fittest mentality, there is an outside factor that determines which of the three key roles of bullying a child will play: the bully, the bullied, or the bystander.

While the first two roles are self-explanatory, the third role is one that is less known but consequently more important than the others. A bystander is someone who does not necessarily partake in an activity or event, but watches and “stands by” as the events unfold. They may not be the ones doing the physical bullying itself, but by being silent they are perpetuating the notion that bullying is acceptable.

Whether it is intentionally or subconsciously, every person will play this role at least once in their lives. It is in human nature to want to fit in. Not straying from the majority is a common theme that is drilled into the minds of children from a young age. It is what schools teach us by giving us uniforms and only allowing us to voice opinions that are “school appropriate.” The facilitation of this concept from schools is why bystanders cannot not be held accountable for their lack of action.

Speaking up, especially to someone who obviously doesn’t care about the hurt feelings or bruised egos of their victims, is a hard thing to do. Instead of bashing the majority of kids who don’t stick up for their peers, it is more beneficial to reward the few who do. Positive reinforcement when kids do the right is what is lacking in the anti-bullying ads and campaigns we see today. We see the bully get punished, but we rarely ever see a bystander get praised for sticking up for the bullied.

Positive reinforcement instead of punishment will encourage more kids to stick up for their fellow students while not punishing the ones who don’t feel comfortable doing so. Until the stigma around bystanders is dismantled, there will continue to be a lack of heroic actions by students. Action needs to be taken to prevent the bullying issue facing us today, but we should not rely on children to be the ones to do it on their own.