Monday, October 22, 2012

Smash Attack Ash on Bullying


Today I have asked Ash from Smash Attack Reads to join us. Ash is going to share her view on bullying from a social workers perspective. 



I haven’t been a social worker for very long, but I've learned about bullying during my education, internships and jobs. I want to preface this article by saying that I am not an expert in the field. These are my thoughts about what I've learned and witnessed. I may ramble, but I hope I can offer a little insight.

While I believe the victims are of the utmost importance and we definitely need to protect these children, I also wish that society paid more attention to the bullies themselves, and why they bully others in the first place. Research has uncovered many reasons why children bully other children. One factor is that children see violence or bullying happen in their own homes, or experience it personally from their parents or siblings. If a child is being bullied at home, s/he may gravitate towards that behavior as a means of releasing emotion from their own bullying experiences. It can also be a power and control thing because the child feels absolutely powerless in their home environment, and therefore they exert power and control over someone else. Lastly, s/he may have simply learned that is the way to handle their emotions. Social learning theory states that people learn about life, how to express themselves and how to behave by observing others, so it is very important that every adult who interacts with a child reinforces that violence is unacceptable and provide more appropriate, healthy ways to problem solve and emote.

Bullies may also project feelings about their own perceived faults onto someone who they wish they could be more like. Violent neighborhoods may reinforce bullying behavior. Impoverished neighborhoods usually have less adequate schools, and therefore, the education levels are going to be lower. In these neighborhoods, social skills may not properly develop and therefore, violence is the go-to problem solving technique. While working with children in impoverished neighborhoods in Miami, FL, I recognized a severe deficit in social skills and understanding the basics of human interaction, in general. You know what else I noticed? The parents had the same problems, probably because they were raised in a similar environment. These are the types of societal problems that I am unsure we will ever eradicate; however, they need to be addressed when dealing with children. The entire family system needs to be examined and treated.

Bullying behavior may also be reinforced when it is ignored by school personnel, community and family. Parents and close family members have a huge responsibility when it comes to bullying, as they are always the first educators for a child. When a parent is contacted by a school regarding their own child bullying another, it is probably not an easy thing to swallow.  However, don’t take offense. Use that moment to recognize that your child is screaming for help.  Don’t write it off as a phase. Don’t ignore it. Don’t allow it to fester and get worse. Open the lines of communication.

On another note, I want to thank the authors who write these types of situations into their books. It really does help young people to realize they are not alone. Children, especially adolescents, are wary of adults and do not trust many, so media is sometimes a better way to communicate important life lessons to them. These stories raise awareness and really give children and adolescents an opportunity to get in touch with their emotions and express them appropriately. That is a skill all of us could work on.


P.S. I found this awesome resource list!


Smash blogs about books and bookish things at Smash Attack Reads. She enjoys paranormal romance, urban fantasy, horror, and young adult books, especially those that dabble in angel or Greek mythology, have a dystopian setting or involve zombies. A social worker in real life, Smash also reads “tough issue” books from time to time.