The biggest problem with how bullying is “combated” lies in a philosophy that’s somehow becoming ingrained into our culture as an appropriate response: defending the bully.
Some bullies come from broken homes and the like. However, there are many bullies who don’t come from such backgrounds. They simply act like jerks for the sake of acting like jerks.
Many bullies find a way to spin the situation and make themselves look like the victim. There are also just as many counselors and teachers that fall for it. This results in said bullies getting a slap on the wrist for things that, had the bully and victim been adults, would’ve led to an assault charge.
Another thing to consider is that bullying is not same every time it appears.
True, you have older students harassing younger students and peers bullying peers, but those aren’t the only situations. Sometimes, young students can bully older students, with older students often being pegged as the aggressor based solely on their age.
It’s not limited to same-gendered peers either. You often hear stories of boys harassing girls for varying reasons, but you seldom hear the stories of boys who are bullied and abused by girls. It’s easy to assume the guy is the one responsible, and many girls know this and take advantage of the double standard.
The first step to dealing with bullying effectively lies in tightening the rules and policies that have become soft over the years.
In high school, many teenagers wish to be seen as adults and capable of taking care of themselves.
As such, that logic should be used against them by having adult-level consequences for their actions. Students shouldn’t necessarily be incarcerated, but the situations should be dealt with in the same way adults would face the issue in a real-world setting, frankly and explicitly.
Counselors in high school have the tendency to talk down to students as if they’re still children. As a result, the severity of the situation tends to be lost on both parties involved; the bully doesn’t feel the severity of his actions, and the victim feels like the school doesn’t take it seriously.
While there are many specific problems with the intricacies of school policies, the aforementioned issues are the biggest issues across the board when it comes to how bullying is dealt with in Utah’s public schools. We should refine what CAN be done, so that it’s the most effective, rather than let the system stammer around in its attempts to please everyone.