Pros & cons of stricter enforcement of disciplinary actions to stop bullying

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Pros & cons of stricter enforcement of disciplinary actions to stop bullying
Bullying is a serious problem. (Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Bullying is a major problem in schools. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in four American students reports being the victim of bullying at some point in his school career. The prevalence of bullying can make it seem obvious that strict measures should be taken against it. However, as with many other policies, a policy of strict enforcement of anti-bullying rules has its pros and cons.

Lower Incidence of Bullying

Strict enforcement of bullying may result in a lower overall occurrence of bullying in a school. According to a study done by Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., a bullying expert, schools that have taken on anti-bullying measures have reported impressive results. Allowing students identify bullies confidentially by dropping names in boxes, can have the effect of making bullies know that they are accountable for their actions, while punishing bullies with detention or suspension can discourage the behaviour.

Positive Learning Environment

Enforcing anti-bullying measures can have the effect of fostering a peaceful, positive learning environment. According to a report by Penn State researchers, bullying has a disruptive and detrimental effect on learning environments. Since it is difficult for students to learn when they are scared or emotionally distressed, taking measures to combat bullying may make it possible for students to study and learn more effectively. Removing bullies from the classroom can have the effect of removing distractions that disrupt and hamper the learning environment.

Encouraging Bullies

While disciplining bullies can reduce the chances of bullying taking place within the school, it does not necessary reform the bullies themselves. According to an 1999 article in "Educational Horizons," bullies often take pride in being suspended or expelled for their actions. While the bullies who are dealt with by expulsion cannot wreak havoc in the school, they may continue to seek victims in their neighbourhood or other areas. Bullies who are punished with detention may even react by harassing their victims worse than before.

Punishing the Innocent

Sometimes, strict anti-bullying measures can have the effect of punishing the wrong kids. Methods that allow students to report bullies' identities anonymously, for example, may create an opportunity for bullies to take their campaign to a whole new level by reporting their victims as bullies and subjecting them to the shame of being punished. In order to avoid this kind of tragic consequence, anti-bullying measures must be thorough in the investigation stage as they are firm in the punishment stage.

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