Looking different has always been perceived as an open invitation for bullies; who, feeling a need to pick on someone, are constantly looking for their next victim. However, according to a survey by the Anti-Bullying Alliance, based in the U.K., it isn’t always appearance that determines who is singled out by bullies. Among British children, more than 90 percent have either been the victim or witnessed someone being victimized by bullies as a result of their intelligence or talent.
For the above average in intelligence, coping with bullying translates into hiding expertise in science for one in 10 children. Similarly, in a survey of 1,000 children in the 11-16 year-old range, 20 percent of girls and 10 percent of boys reported hiding math skills. Some children have gone as far as quitting an enjoyable activity and downplaying knowledge and talents to avoid bullying.
With cyber bullying on the rise, avoiding harassment is becoming even more difficult. Perhaps this is the reason that children, now more than ever, are avoiding extra-curricular activities, limiting their participation in academic clubs and sports, and in general maintaining a low profile. Prior to the age of computers, children only had to face bullies at school and on their way home but once inside their homes, they were safe for the remainder of the day. Now bullies continue to harass children in cyber space, creating nearly nonstop stress and making kids less likely to showcase and celebrate their talents.
Evidence suggests that anti-bullying strategies such as conflict management may be even more important for high-achieving black and Latino students whose GPA’s tend to be more adversely affected by bullying then their high-achieving white counterparts. According to Lisa M. Williams, the study’s co-author, “stereotypes about black and Latino youth suggest that they perform poorly in school. Because of this, Williams states, “high achieving black and Latino students who do not conform to these stereotypes may be especially vulnerable to the effect bullying has on grades.”
Now more than ever it is important that students of all cognitive levels learn conflict management strategies. Students should be proud of their success in academics and should celebrate their talents, not hide them for fear of being bullied. We believe the way to do this is to give students the tools they need to combat bullying.
©2012 James Stanfield Company. All Rights Reserved.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.