Affecting thousands of youths every year, bullying is slowly gaining recognition as a major social problem. In recent times, the media has been awash with serious bullying instances with scores of teenagers facing assault as well as harassment charges. Personally, I do believe that we in the social work field have a critical role to play when it comes to the aversion of bullying incidences.
Bullying as a Social Problem: The Role of the Social Worker
It is important to note that bullying has a number of far reaching negative effects on those affected. Further, bullying also affects the actual bullies, though mildly. In most cases, those who are bullied are exposed to a higher risk of both anxiety and depression. In some extreme cases, we have had victims of bullying committing suicide. For instance, bullying was attributed to the suicide of Phoebe Prince which according to Eckholm and Zezima came after Ms. Prince received numerous physical threats and taunts from six teenagers (n.p). Further, it is also important to note that those subjected to bullying are more likely to have their grades drop in school. This can be attributed to decreased levels of concentration in class as the victims become preoccupied with past bulling incidences and fear of recurrence. Those who subject others to bullying in this case are more likely to be convicted of criminal acts during adulthood. Therefore, given the effects of bullying I highlight above, the need for urgent intervention measures cannot be overstated.
In my opinion, bulling is caused by a constellation of factors. For instance, a stressed up student is more likely to take this stress out on his or her colleagues. Causes of stress in this case could be familial or personal. Bullying could also be informed by the bully’s need for attention and popularity. Further, bullying could be considered some kind of fun by those exposing others to the same. This is most particularly the case in instances of “happy slapping” where individuals record a bullying incident using camera phones.
Given the insight I give above on the effects as well as causes of bullying, I am convinced that social workers like myself have a critical role to play in the aversion of the same. To begin with, social workers need to speak out against bulling and its negative impacts. In this case, seminars targeting both school heads and students should be organized with the key agenda being how to stamp out bullying. Further, social workers like myself can push or lobby for the adoption of policies that guarantee the safety of children both at school and at home. In this case, social workers could approach legislators and offer their proposals on how to stamp out bullying so as to avert its vast negative consequences on those exposed to the same. Similarly, social workers can also help schools in both the formulation and enforcement of institution-wide policies tailored to curb bullying.
Other roles social workers can play to curb bullying include assisting bullying victims to seek support from the relevant authorities i.e. The school administration, teachers, parents and in some cases, the police. Further, social workers can also play a critical role in helping parents provide support to children who have either been bullied or are at a risk of being bullied. Social workers may also go a step further and offer mentorship to bullies. Offering mentorship to bullies in this case helps them identify their shortcomings and the pain they occasion to their victims. Such a move could help bring down instances of bulling.
Based on the views I present above, I remain convinced that social workers can play a critical role in the minimization of bullying incidences. As I have already pointed out, bullying could occasion some adverse effects on those affected. With that in mind, all the stakeholders in this case including schools, parents and social workers should join hands so as to decisively deal with this social problem.
Eckholm, Erick & Katie Zezima. “6 Teenagers are charged after Classmate’s Suicide.” New York Times. N.p., 29th March, 2010. Web. 29th January 2010.
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