Bullying is an unfortunately common occurrence in elementary, middle and high schools across the country. While bullying doesn’t have to occur in the educational environment, there just seems to be something about the school setting that inadvertently fosters bullying. What are some of the common causes of bullying in public schools and private boarding schools?
Targets May Be Physically Different
In childhood and adolescence, being different in some physical, discerning way can make for an easy target of bullying. That kid with the new pair of glasses, the tall, gangly 13-year-old and the kid with big ears could all be victims of bullying due to their physical appearances. Any physical characteristic that attracts attention could increase someone’s chances of becoming a target of bullying.
Targets May Be of a Different Race or Ethnicity
Along the same lines, adolescents who are of a different race or ethnicity than their peers are more likely to be bullied because of it. This is especially true in schools that are more homogenous in their student body. In the United States, Muslim students —or those who may present as Muslim, such as Sikh students — are especially prone to bullying due to their race.
Thankfully, private boarding schools with exceptionally diverse student bodies, such as Wasatch Academy, are working to combat this particular source of bullying.
Targets May Have a Learning Disability or Other Illness
Bullies prey on the weak — whether they are perceived as being weak physically or mentally. Students with chronic illnesses, students in wheelchairs and students who have been diagnosed with ADHD, Asperger’s, dyslexia, autism, asthma and other conditions could become targets because of their condition. Students with mental or physical abnormalities may need additional care to stay protected from school bullies.
Targets May Be of a Different Sexual Orientation
Students who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, asexual or non-binary are more likely to be targeted by school bullies for being different. Bullying of people of a different sexual orientation or gender identity can be brutal — and can even lead to assault. Administrators need to set a good example to students about being inclusive in order to help prevent such events from occurring in our nation’s private boarding schools and public high schools.
The Bully Is Always Responsible
Regardless of the reasons for which students may be singled out and bullied, at the end of the day the bully him or herself is solely responsible for bullying. Anyone can be a target of bullying — even kids who excel in school, are popular and participate in sports.
In order to protect against bullying, administrators at public high schools and private boarding schools need to work to build a culture of positivity and inclusivity — and recognize that bullying is a school-wide problem, not just an individual one.