Violence expresses itself through different forms depending on the life stage of a person. Bullying as a mean of discrimination is one of the most common violent practices found in schools all over the Americas. The difference between Bullying and other forms of violence consists in the systematic process of depreciation (and even de-humanization) of a student to the point the victim believes suicide is the only way out. As with other forms of violence, vulnerable communities such as the LGBTQ bear an unfair share of the consequences. The following two papers provide tools to school administrators and stake-holders for creating safe learning environments, in which vulnerable communities and different students can feel included. Though it may not cause the majority of violent deaths in the Americas, harassment in schools has profound and serious consequences for future generations and national economies.
Identifying bullying and its victims:
This phenomenon often comprises the whole student’s social life: the relation with his/her classmates, friends, family, teachers, etc. As such, the channels through which bullying is being committed expand outside the campus; cyberbullying represents a huge threat to the mental health of the victim, who finds itself cornered by a seemingly omnipresence of its offender. The construction of a narrative that looks to exclude a student from fully participating in his/her rights is the first indicator of bullying. Demeaning comments on the looks, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, race or religion, have as objective to differentiate victims from the society which they belong. The result of an effective implementation of this narrative is the exclusion of the victim from the community (i.e. exclusion from a group of friends, sports team, extracurricular club, isolation from parents, etc.).
Once a victim is already isolated violence becomes more apparent as academic performance decreases, and suicidal ideation/completion happens. The path of suicide is then paved by a history of substance abuse, conduct disorder (depression), access to dangerous items (firearms, knifes, ropes), hopelessness and impulsiveness. Suicide intent/ideation is twice as possible when bullying is being conducted also through the Internet. This third and final step of violence is known as extermination, where “marginalized persons or something about them is extinguished”
Strategies for the intervention and prevention of bullying and suicide:
• To create nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, race, religion, gender, nationality and gender identity, as vulnerable communities susceptible to have a protected status.
• To establish relationships of trust and care between students and members of the community such as teachers, classmates and parents.
• To encourage positive behavior trough gay-community alliances, gay-clubs, anti-bullying programs and providing psychological support to both victims and bullies.
• To address violent acts at the moment as a way to enforce non-discriminatory policies and deter others to engage in such acts.
• To train staff members in recognizing signs of distress, how to manage disputes and respond to bullying
• To empower students by giving them information on violence prevention and inclusion as a way to create amicable learning atmospheres.
• To create a specific plan for suicide prevention, intervention and postvention.
• To put in place containment measure to prevent the contagion effect once a suicide has happened.
|Country:||United States of America|
|Institution:||National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)|