Bullying is a prevalent problem in American public schools. This behavior has negative effects on the academic performance of those who are bullied and can take a toll on their physical and mental health.
Around 17 percent of American students experience bullying two to three times a month but according to the US Department of Health & Human Services, 50 percent of children aged 4 through 12 are bullied. If we add cyberbullying into the mix, these numbers grow exponentially.
Cyberbullying is a growing pandemic fueled by what many say is social media’s inability to engender empathy. It is still a rather new problem schools must deal with, and even though there are laws against it, these remain challenged in lower courts, as lawmakers struggle with the extent of their responsibilities to victims vs. the First Amendment.
Cyberbullying is naturally an extension of physical bullying, and some standard classroom procedures can also apply in trying to inculcate respect and acceptance. Educators must use as many opportunities as possible to encourage and reinforce acceptance and respect, include anti-bullying messages and information in the curriculum and the school environment and eventually implement a kindness culture by rewarding kind and empathetic behavior.
Student performance and (Cyber)Bullying
The Journal of Early Adolescence published a UCLA study in 2010 involving 2,300 middle school students from eleven public schools in Los Angeles. Over the course of three years, the researchers found that there is a link between poor academic performance and bullying.
Jaana Juvonen, a UCLA professor of psychology notes that students who have experienced repeated bullying had poor grades. Juvonen adds that remarks made by other children, face to face or online, can become self-perpetuating, making it more probable for a student labelled as dumb to not perform well in school. Psychologists note that children rarely tell teachers about bullying incidents but that the school system can look into the matter once a child’s academic performance is assessed.
Aside from children reporting instances of bullying and cyberbullying to their parents and teachers, experts note that the public school system has other options to help students. Tracking a student’s performance is one of those ways.
How a school LMS can help educators identify bullying
New technology can help. A school LMS can help educators monitor all the online activity of students through the platform by configuring terminology alerts on bad words. Whenever a student uses a bad word when addressing another one through the communication and collaboration tools of the LMS, the teacher can be alerted and take action if necessary.
But today’s students are digital natives and they might know to avoid being a bully through the school learning management system. They might prefer social media instead, or the plain old school court bullying. In that case, one needs to look further. A drop in academic performance might be a clue. An online learning platform can help the public school system not only manage all classroom activities but also assess and track the progress students make.
With this kind of tracking system, schools can pinpoint which child is not performing as well as his peers. This data can later lead to intervention, according to experts. The public school system can use this powerful tool to help students do better in school and more importantly help them address concerns that affect academic achievement.
Why schools need to take action
Bullying and its online counterpart is a form of psychological violence and it can cause psychological, emotional, and mental injuries. It can also cause social harm and economic harm later in life. It’s not just about helping children who are bullied though. Schools also need to address bullies and stop them on their tracks.
If students who experience bullying can be tracked through their academic performance, teachers will be able to find out who the bullies are and as a result, will be able to help bullies and their targets. Nipping it in the bud will have a great impact on perhaps millions of lives, and if the public school system is successful, Americans will live a better life.