Friday, March 7, 2003

Bullying among 4 factors for youth violence, expert says

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A national bullying prevention expert cites four ingredients that converge to contribute to youth violence.

Bullying is one of them, said Stan Davis, who visited Wyoming Schools recently for a training session on bully prevention. Bullying has a damaging, isolation effect in which children become friendless or constantly teased.

"The more friends and positive relationships you have, the less desperate you become if bullied by someone," said Davis, a school counselor from Wayne, Maine.

But bullying alone does not cause violence, he said. It's usually combined with three other factors:

• A culture in which children are exposed to a tremendous amount of violence through television, movies and video games. Heroes on screen are increasingly portrayed using violence as a solution with no repercussions.

• Some children are temperamentally more fragile than others, partly because of genetics.

• The more stressors there are in a child's life, the more likely a child is to be prone to violence or other problems.

The more protective assets, such as healthy relationships with family and friends, and involvement in community activities, the less likely a child is to engage in early sexual activity, crime and drug use.

Schools must be on the frontlines in the war against bullying, he said, but they are not to blame for the behavior.

"The school is the arena for bullying because this is the only place children who don't like each other have to be together," Davis said.

At Wyoming Middle School, Davis told students that bullying is best combated through teamwork.

Bystanders, who outnumber bullies 10-to-1 in every school, are an effective tool in helping to stop bullying, Davis said.

"If we're going to change things, it takes the rest of us, the bystanders, who have the power because they have back-up."


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