President and First Lady Obama recently hosted a White House conference on bullying prevention in schools, and a number of noted psychologists presented research. Bullying is widespread in schools, and the data shows that both victims and bullies experience problems later in life.
Victims of bullies experience depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts (and actions, such as the Phoebe Prince case), and in later years their academic attendance and performance can suffer. Bullies are likely to have academic problems (along with the behavioral problems) and are more likely to come to the attention of law enforcement as adolescents and young adults. So, both bullies and victims suffer.
The conference focused on ways to try to prevent bullying. Here are some of the suggestions:
Create a positive school climate and one that does not tolerate bullying. Support structures should also be offered for victims of bullying.
Train teachers and staff to recognize and respond to bullying. Too often teachers and staff ignore bullying behavior.
Teaching students how to respond to bullying, and involve parenting in the education efforts to recognize and prevent bullying.
Monitor bullying in schools through surveys of students, and recognizing where bullying takes place - what are called bullying "hotspots" on the playgrounds, restrooms, etc., that need to be carefully monitored.
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