link back to CSEE's home page
logo

Bullying Behaviors Impact Students’ Mental Health

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on February 22, 2015

What is the relationship between bullying and youth mental health issues?  Who is impacted by bullying behaviors in the school community? Several studies including a recent report, The Relationship between Bullying and Suicide: What We Know and What It Means for Schools by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provide insight about the bullying dynamic, the school climate context and student mental health. These findings are helpful for educators in guiding their student mental health and bullying prevention and intervention efforts.

Bullying occurs within a school and community context and impacts the perception and behaviors of all students.  Students’ perceptions about their school experience influence their social and emotional health and development. Here are some findings about middle schools:

  • As middle school students’ positive perceptions of their school climate declined so did their psychological and behavioral adjustments.
  • Middle school climate is correlated to students’ mental health, specifically depression, which can impact students’ academics, behaviors and social-emotional development.
  • Middle school boys who held more positive perceptions of their school climate tended to have fewer externalizing behaviors -- aggressive, delinquent behavior.
  • Middle school youth with high levels of self-criticism did not show expected increases in internalizing (anxiety, stress, depression, worry, negative thinking) and externalizing problems (aggressive, delinquent behavior) when they perceived school climate in a positive light.

Bullying impacts the whole school community. It has long-lasting and serious negative effects on the mental health and overall well-being of not only the victim, but also the bully, the bully-victim (an individual who bullies and is bullied), and the bystanders.  Here’s a summary of key findings from the CDC report on bullying, mental health, and suicide:

All students are impacted.  All students may experiencenegative outcomes of bullying including depression, anxiety, involvement in interpersonal or sexual violence, poor social functioning and substance abuse.

Bystanders feel helpless. Any involvement with bullying behavior may significantly contribute to students’ feelings of helplessness and decreased sense of connectedness and support from responsible adults.

Both bully and victim are at-risk for suicide. Youth who report frequently bullying others and youth who report being frequently bullied are at increased risk for suicide-related behavior.

Bully-victim is at highest risk.  Youth who report both bullying others and being bullied are at the highest risk for suicide-related behavior of any group that reports involvement with bullying.

What we don’t know about bullying and suicide.  We don’t know if bullying is a direct cause of suicide-related behavior. The CDC report says that it is “correct to say that involvement in bullying, along with other risk factors, increases the chance that a young person will engage in suicide-related behaviors” (CDC, p 3.)

What we do know about bullying and suicide.  Suicide-related behavior is complicated and rarely the result of a single cause of trauma or stress. Individuals who engage in suicide-related behavior often experience overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.  Youth who are at increased risk for suicide-related behavior are dealing with a complex interaction of multiple relationships (peer, family, or romantic), mental health, and school stressors. Suicide-related behavior and bullying behavior are closely related. Youth who report any involvement with bullying are more likely to report high levels of suicide-related behavior than youth who do not report any involvement with bullying behavior. That being said, we do know that most kids who are involved in bullying do NOT engage in suicide-related behavior.  We know enough about the relationship between bullying and suicide-related behavior to recommend focusing on prevention efforts.

For more information on what schools can do click here.

Suicide-related behaviors include:

Suicide: Death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with any intent to die.

Suicide attempt: A non-fatal self-directed potentially injurious behavior with any intent to die as a result of the behavior. A suicide attempt may or may not result in injury.

Suicidal ideation: Thinking about, considering, or planning for suicide.
(CDC, n.d., p.3)

Submitted by:

Lucy A. Vezzuto, Ph.D.
L.A. Vezzuto, Ph.D. & Associates
215 Marketview
Irvine, CA 92602
[email protected]

References

Brand, S., Felner, R., Shim, M., Seitsinger, A., & Dumas, T. (2003). Middle school improvement and reform: development and validation of a school-level assessment of climate, cultural pluralism, and school safety. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95 (3), 570-588.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention. (n.d.)  The relationship between bullying and suicide: what we know and what it means for schools. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/bullying-suicide-translation-final-a.pdf.

Kuperminic, G. P., Leadbeater, B. J., Emmons, C., & Blatt, S. J. (1997). Perceived school climate and difficulties in the social adjustment of middle school students. Applied Developmental Science, 1, 76-88.

Kuperminic, G. P., Leadbeater, B. J., & Blatt, S. J. (2001). School social climate and individual differences in vulnerability to psychopathology among middle school students. Journal of School Psychology, 39, (2), 141-159.

Way, N., Reddy, R., & Rhodes, J. (2007). Students’ perceptions of school climate during the middle school years: Associations with trajectories of psychological and behavioral adjustment. American Journal of Community Psychology, 40(3), 194-213.


 

Research Roundup

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on December 16, 2014

Outlook on instruction: Class around the clock District Administration Magazine 

The idea that all students can learn the same material through the same old teaching methods is slowly changing.  Today, students are becoming more empowered to shape how they learn.  The availability of technology resources such as individual laptops for each student make this vision easier for educators who are now able to direct individual attention to students working on different assignments.  With these technology advances making the classroom environment accessible 24/7, collaboration and discussion between students and educators is thriving.

Big Drop In Students Being Held Back, But Why? NPR Blogs 

The decline in the number of students who are held back nationwide has declined with much mystery surrounding the reasons behind the decrease. Little attention to measuring grade retention has contributed to the lack of knowledge. Researchers have identified two reasons for the phenomenon: holding students back is costly and incentives for schools and districts to improve their graduation rates are too great to prevent advancement. On the upside, some educators indicate the progress is due to more students being identified earlier and having their needs met before the gaps in learning become too wide. 

The Race Gap in High School Honors Classes National Journal 

In fall 2013, students entering the University of California averaged over a 4.0 weighted high school GPA. A GPA above 4.0 is achieved by advanced placement classes. Unfortunately, not all students have access to these courses and minority students especially are more likely to attend high schools that do not offer these advanced classes compared to their white counterparts. Read on for highlights about the differences in advanced placement and college prep courses by ethnicity. 

5 Critical Questions for the Innovative Educator Connected Principals Blog 

New technologies are constantly being introduced to classrooms to enhance learning.  It is often difficult to keep up with the latest without disrupting the student classroom.  This article gives 5 tips on how educators can stay focused on what is most important in the classroom: the student.  

Social Media Threats Case Heard By Supreme Court - Implications for Schools

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on December 04, 2014

Social Media Threats Case Heard By Supreme Court - Implications for Schools

 

The Elonis v. United States case is bringing increased attention to the already complicated question of how to deal with school threats made on social media. The case, which is before the Supreme Court, involves a 27-year-old man who made threatening comments on Facebook about shooting up an elementary school. The specific question before the Court is whether, when someone is prosecuted for making threatening statements, the government should be required to prove that that person intended his words to be taken as a threat. The crux of the issue is whether one should have to prove a subjective element (that the speaker intended his words to be taken as a threat) or merely an objective element (that a reasonable listener would have understood the words as a threat -- a much lower burden). Proponents of free speech argue that "proof of subjective intent is required to ensure that protected speech is not chilled by the fear of criminal prosecution" (ACLU).

How the Supreme Court decides this case will have broad implications for how school administrators address threats made by students on social media outlets and impact how youth are treated when accused of such conduct.

Regardless of what standard of proof the Court deems appropriate, however, any standard that allows us to criminalize youth for their behavior on social media will likely do more harm than good. For this reason, although working to protect free speech is vitally important, when it comes to this kind of behavior by youth, arguing over whether the objective or subjective standard is appropriate misses the true issue at hand: how can we best prevent this type of behavior from occurring and work to remedy its harm as effectively as possible. 

Countless studies and data show that criminalizing cyber-bullying will not decrease bullying and will instead cause a less satisfactory school climate for all students, as well as significant harm to those students labeled "bullies," including perpetuating the school-to-prison-pipeline[1] (for a more detailed discussion of the issue of criminalizing cyber-bullying, see: New York's Cyber-Bullying Law Struck Down http://conta.cc/1vxFtzM). Similarly, the answer to dealing with school threats on social media should not be to put kids in jail. Instead, we should be focusing on prevention.

NSCC has been supporting prevention efforts specific to such social media concerns through our school climate measurement work and the creation of a new dimension that provides schools with data on the perceptions about social media behavior from key stakeholder groups - parents, students, staff - directly. In this way, we are able to support a more meaningful dialogue within the school community about how social media is being used - positively or negatively - and what can be done to promote online behavior that reinforces their core values and codes of conduct in all areas of school life. Ultimately, when schools are equipped with the right information, they can be more effective in prevention efforts related to mean, cruel or potentially harmful behaviors before they manifest as negative actions that require a more serious response from the administration or other officials. 

If the Supreme Court finds that an objective standard is proper in Elonis, it would make it easier to focus on punishment rather than prevention. This is the wrong approach. Our efforts should be spent working to prevent and remedy the underlying behavior instead of making it easier to criminalize the behavior and providing more opportunity to further crowd the school-to-prison-pipeline.

[1] R. Skiba, A. Cohn, & A. Canter, Zero Tolerance and Alternative Strategies, in  HELPING  CHILDREN AT  HOME AND SCHOOL  II: HANDOUTS FOR  FAMILIES AND  EDUCATORS, S4:103-S4:106 (A. Canter, L. Paige, et al., eds. 2004); National Association of School Psychologists, Zero Tolerance and Alternative Strategies: A Fact Sheet for Educators and Policymakers , NASP ONLINE, http://www.nasponline.org/resources/factsheets/zt_fs.aspx (last accessed April 24, 2014); American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force, Are Zero Tolerance Policies Effective in the Schools? An Evidentiary Review and Recommendations , AMERICAN  PSYCHOLOGIST, Vol. 63, No. 9, 852–862 (Dec. 2008) (hereinafter “Are Zero Tolerance Policies Effective in the Schools?” ).

 

17 Ways Schools Can Educate Parents About Bullying

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on November 23, 2014

By Dr. Michele Borba

Twitter: @MicheleBorba

Blog: http://micheleborba.com/blog/

 

REALITY CHECK: A meta-analysis of over 600 studies on bullying found that a key to reducing peer cruelty is parent education.


I’ve worked in bullying prevention with hundreds of schools around the world as well as on 18 US Army bases and I find the same thing no matter where I am: parent education must be a component in effective bullying prevention. In fact, the sooner we engage and educate parents about the dynamics of bullying and the most effective strategies to reduce it, the better we can help all our children-bullies, targets and bystanders.

 

I’ve included 17 ways I’ve seen schools and communities involve parents in bullying prevention. I’ve learned that there is no right way to strengthen the home-school connection about bullying prevention. Home-grown and organic strategies are always better, and when students are involved it strengthens your efforts even more.

[Read more…]

Research Roundup

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on November 14, 2014

School 'climate' affects teachers' expectations about students Z News 

The school environment in which teachers work affects their expectations about students, says a new study.The research conducted a multilevel analysis using data from 2,666 teachers in 71 secondary schools in Quebec. “From these data, the researchers could distinguish between two levels of variables -- the teacher: His/her perception of school climate, gender, age, courses taught; and the school: its academic, socio-economic, ethnic composition, and the way the entire school community perceived the school climate.”

 

Classroom Tech, Professional Development Top List of Faculty Concerns Campus Technology

This article discusses the changing role of social media in education.  “While technology is very helpful for student engagement and motivation, where it really shines is in providing professional development and opportunities for teachers to collaborate with colleagues. And social media is turning out to be a powerful tool for those purposes.” Sites proving to be most valuable are twitter, facebook, and google+ for conferences. 

 

Harding Elementary School teacher prepares students for high-tech future The Republic

A tech-savvy Ben Feight integrates technology into his 4th grade lessons. He says, “While assignments might feel more like entertainment, they align with Iowa Core 21st Century Skills like employability, financial, health, civic and technology literacy. He continues, "I want to make sure they are prepared for the world and show them the possibilities.”

 

BROADER MEASURES OF SUCCESS: SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL LEARNING York University

Broader Measures highlights the importance of teaching and measuring social emotional learning. The general positive outcomes include improved academic achievement, increased social-emotional skill, self-esteem and mental health. The report states, “The evidence is clear that it is very important to measure how students are progressing in the development of their core social/emotional competencies, and how classroom and school conditions are contributing to this vital aspect of their education. This is not just a vital aspect of their wellbeing, but a critical factor in their long-term academic attainment as well.”

Page 1 of 11 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›