Abuse in Schools

Youth frequently target peers who dress, act, look or talk differently.

When young people are asked about the source of problems in their schools, they typically answer with examples of "Bullying."

  • Intimidation
  • Threats
  • Taunts
  • Teasing
  • Mocking
    • Name Calling
    • Harassment
    • Alienation
    • Fighting
    • Obscene language

    Children report being nearly or completely isolated (shunned) by their classmates for no apparent reason. All too often, school administrators and teachers ignore reports of bullying or claim inability to find a solution. Many parents feel helpless in these situations and don't know where to turn for help. Persons of all ages who feel depressed, unappreciated and unheard are now the most likely to erupt in violence when their level of frustration and hopelessness reaches a point that they no longer know how to control it. They take it out in violence on others or on themselves.

    Guns and Violence are considered symptoms of these stated root causes.

    Frequently "Bullying" is tolerated as "just the way X is" or "just part of growing up"--attitudes of tolerance and acceptance of behavior and attitudes which occur in the classroom, restroom, hallway, cafeteria, playground, and school bus.

    Bullying also occurs in the workplace, in the home, in organizations (youth and adult), in fraternities, in public encounters, in the bedroom.

    "Many kids from loving although often ineffectual families are restless and chaotic. They talk back...to the point of verbal abuse. They don't seem to recognize adults as having any real authority over them. They are even crueler to one another.

    "...the number of high school principals who complained of serious disciplinary problems rose significantly during the 1990s, even as violent crime on the streets and...schools eased. Most striking, they are more prevalent in suburban than inner-city schools. (Many of the demoralizing problems in poor, urban schools are lessening.) "...verbal abuse of teachers declined in the '90s by about 10% in schools where 75% of students are [low income]. [It used to be that suburban schools held urban administrators and teachers in low regard. Today suburban districts want to hire those educators, because they have a track record of dealing with problems that are now occurring in suburbs.]

    "...problems are showing up at younger ages. There has been a 17% increase between 1984 and 1997, of elementary school teachers who say they have students disrupting the class most of the time or fairly often and a slightly smaller increase among those who find students talking back and disobeying.

    "Sixth-graders used to be benign and afraid of adults....Now you see some of them who are so defiant, their parents have no idea what to do with them.

    "To make matters worse, educators believe they no longer can rely on parents for support....many parents abet troublemakers. ...administrators...spend more time justifying their disciplinary actions to suspicious and adversarial parents, many of whom seem to see their role as being their child's legal advocate, accusing the other kid of being a bad influence or educators of overreacting.

    "An increasing number of schools are placing law enforcement officers [in their schools], searching ...lockers, doing random drug tests and installing cameras and metal detectors.

    "Most kids continue to go to school, sit still during class and do their work without threatening their teachers or classmates....disruptive kids have a way of dominating classrooms....even a few newcomers...can alter the atmosphere of a school."(1)

    1. Kay S. Hymowitz, "Receding School Violence Masks a Darker Reality--Many students from loving but ineffectual suburban families are restless, chaotic and defiant," The Kansas City Star, 1/2/2000