Solutions to the Rise of Bullying
Unfortunately one of the growing issues in the teen world is bullying. It has become a by-product of the violence and lack of social skills that are manifest in teens because of other issues - such as their addiction to screens, a lack of communication, and lost problem-solving and decision-making skills. The statistics are not pretty.
There are many statistics out on this growing issue. Let me give you some research that was based across 37 states and almost 200,000 teenagers. It is from The Hechinger Report, an innovative research company that works with educators and school systems. In one of their reports The Hechinger Report sated,
“Our analyzed insights about bullying from survey responses of more than 180,000 students in grades 5-12 across 37 states have taught us a lot the last two years. We’ve learned that most bullying still happens in person (not online). And that the top three reasons students felt they were bullied included their appearance, their race or skin color, and because other students thought they were gay. Overall, just over one in four students in 2016 said they were bullied. And those numbers are rising.”
The following data sets from Hechinger are from the Fall of 2018:
Thirty-three percent of students, or one in three, reported being bullied in the 2017-18 school year — up from just over one in four two years ago
Our data also showed that middle-school students experienced bullying at higher rates than did high-school students — nearly 40 percent, compared to 27 percent.
Those who are bullied are at increased risk for mental health problems, headaches, and problems adjusting to school. Bullying also can cause long-term damage to self-esteem.
Adolescents who are bullies are at increased risk for substance use, academic problems, and violence to others later in life.
So let’s look here at some solutions.
One of the things that I believe could help students with bullying in the school setting is the development of tribes (groups or clicks or squads or sub-groups) that students can be accepted in. Tribes would be the new form of an old issue called clicks. Yes, you heard me. Clicks, let’s call them tribes, can be a good thing.
In the purest sense, tribes can become an avenue into the YTH group for types of teenagers. I’ve heard people speak poorly of clicks and how bad they can be, but, very few people see the value in them. Let me explain this better and help you unlearn this old idea of clicks. And give you 5 ways to improve the culture of bullying in the YTH ministry.
1. Tribes can be valuable because they work upon a code or a set of understandings between the people in them. And this can become a safe place for people of a certain group or set who have no place to belong. Healthy tribes can create a healthy YTH ministry culture.
2. To sustain good tribes, try creating doors of entry or interrelated relationships within tribal leaders so that they do not alienate students from each other. Don’t worry, every social setting has groups and sub-groups. And if healthy, the organization that can create movement and acceptance between the sub-groups will see a huge return on investment. These tribes or teams can create healthy acceptance.
3. Avenues of entry into the organization (outreach). Every type and kind of person can be reached by their own type and kind much easier. In a healthy YTH ministry, tribes can become the entry into the church and the YTH group for students in the community. Hopefully you are able to reach every kind or type of student in your area because you have every kind or type of student in the YTH ministry.
4. Ownership and ultimately healthy competition and production. Growth in the YTH ministry will come from healthy tribes. These tribes will create healthy competition and production in the YTH ministry because students find a place to belong and a set of common values and codes within their tribe or circle. When students own the YTH ministry, they will bring peer correction to the issue of bullying.
5. Culture stops bullying. As students own the YTH ministry, watch the culture be set quickly. And in this discussion of bullying, respect for each other, acceptance of each other, and self-confidence will rise. And when that happens, this honor and acceptance will go a long way to help stop bullying. Where there is respect and honor of the differences in appearance, race, or sexual orientation, there will be a defense against bullying.
Why the rise of bullying? There are many reasons for the rise of bullying. The problem is not an easy one to solve. Things such as non-communicable trends, lack of relationships, decrease in problem-solving and decision-making skills, territorialism, prejudice, inequality, lack of anger management, and even the loss of affection and attention in the home. With the rise of bullying, I’ve heard many students say you either have to bully or get bullied. I’m not sure that is totally true, but, it is a pervasive thought among teenagers. That is where our relationships are at in this teenage generation today.