Free Article Review On Bullying In School
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Rivers, Poteat, Noret and Ashurst (2009) have studied the effects bullying in school has on the mental health of witnesses. While popular perception holds that bullying should affect the victim and perpetrator, the authors hypothesized that witnesses to school bullying would also be affected. They crosschecked this hypothesis by testing whether those who displayed mental health problems after observing bullying as witnesses had also been victims at some point.
The researchers collected data from 2002 students aged 12 to 16 years attending public school in England. Students submitted responses to questionnaires aimed at ascertaining their reactions to bullying incidents at school. The questionnaire included mechanisms that determined whether participants had been perpetrators, victims, witnesses or a combination of all. Combined with the input on their status in the bullying environment, the researchers obtained inputs for grading the participants along the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) for mental health (Rivers, Poteat, Noret & Ashurst, 2009).
The researchers found that those students who merely observed their peers getting bullied also suffered from significant mental trauma. In fact, the mental trauma experienced by the witnesses exceeded that of the perpetrators and was barely lesser than that suffered by victims. The researchers attributed to this mental trauma to the possibility that the witnesses expected to be similarly victimized in future, or linked the bullying incident to past experiences of being traumatized in other situations (Rivers, Poteat, Noret & Ashurst, 2009).
As a teacher, the research article is useful in making me understand that I must be alive to the mental well being of witnesses to bullying incidents, just as I would be alert to incidents of bullying per se. To counteract the effect of bullying on the mental health of witnesses, I would partner with school psychologists to institute programs that would enable students to make a transition from being merely ‘witnesses’ to being ‘defenders’ in bullying situations. This would impart significant self-confidence to students and would help in mitigating mental health problems. I would also create plays in the classroom where entire bullying episodes would be played out and discussed. This would enable students to speak about bullying and give vent to their repressed feelings and emotions on the subject. The catharsis achieved would help witnesses to become mentally stronger so as to counteract the negative impact of having seen incidents of bullying in the past.
Rivers, I., Poteat, V.P., Noret, N., & Ashurst, N. (2009). Observing bullying at school: The mental health implications of witness status. School Psychology Quarterly 24/4: 211-223. Retrieved April 4, 2015, from http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/spq-24-4-211.pdf
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