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Utopia Project: Eliminating Bullying in Elementary Schools

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Utopia Project: Eliminating Bullying In Elementary Schools[a]

Bakhtawar Syeda Kazmi

Shenandoah University


Abstract

This paper shall examine a variety of methods and possibilities the elementary school institution can employ to eradicate bullying from the school. In addition, this paper explores a variety of six published research articles regarding the possible causes and effects of bullying and the importance of teaching elementary schools students to not be prejudice amongst each other and to accept each other’s appearance, ethnicity and beliefs. From social psychology, using the concept of prejudice to create a better setting in elementary schools, students can begin to feel safe in their learning environments. In addition, creating activities and materials in respect to the concept of intercultural [b]can eliminate the increasing percentage of bullying in elementary schools.


Utopia Project: Eliminating Bullying In Elementary Schools

        Imagine existing in a world without bullying, living life in peace, and living a life deprived of people being prejudice to each other based on appearance, culture and beliefs. Envision living a life where students feel safe and interested in their learning environment and do not fear of being stereotyped. In the world of today, there are many possibilities in making the society a better place to live. Some may want to remove racial prejudice altogether or they may want to make the pay rate equal for both women and men. I personally believe bullying in elementary schools is an ever-lasting problem in today’s society because the first few years of a children’s life are extremely important as it sets a general pattern he or she will follow. Therefore, at such a young age the student is viewing, receiving or being the bully, which can cause them to have negative effects in future. Albert Einstein once stated, “The struggle for an unprejudiced attitude towards the simple and yet so often misunderstood facts of human existence must start at the still flexible mind of the child” (“Intercultural Materials” p. 188). [c]

        Name-calling, spreading false rumors, hitting or threatening are a few attributes of bullying, essentially any kind of verbal and physical assault. Being a continuous problem in the student’s life, the consequence of bullying affects everyone, the person who bullies, the victim, and the one who observes the interpersonal violence (Jan and Husain, 2015). The schools education for the students does not only comprise of what they are taught in the classroom but also what they learn through communication and action with other students and teachers. If the interaction between other students and teachers are not positive and encouraging, it can create a climate of negativity, which can then severely impact the student’s safety and their interest in the learning environment. The problem of bullying is essentially an education problem. If policymakers and teachers can come together to create intercultural materials and activities, then the world we imagined would be created. [d]        

        Now getting a behavior such as bullying to stop in elementary schools is a hard task but with the help of the concept of prejudice in social psychology, it can help eliminated the problem and make the society a better place to live. A hostile or negative attitude towards a distinguishable group based on generalizations derived from faulty or incomplete information is known as the concept of prejudice (Aronson, 2012). There are three different types of prejudice attitudes: affective, behavioral and cognitive. The affective type of prejudice focuses on what people like or dislike and in this case, students creating a negative attitude towards a different race, ethnicity, or appearance. The behavioral type of prejudice emphases on discriminating another based on their race, ethnicity, or appearance[e]. Lastly, the cognitive type of prejudice focuses on how people are inclined to behave, for example creating stereotypes (Book Ref[f]). With using the theory of prejudice, everyday life for elementary school students would be better by a variety of ways.

        In striving to achieve the desired result, which is to eliminate bullying in elementary schools, the most important step would be to create a meaningful pledge and encourage students to sign it and promising themselves that they will not bully another student based on their appearance, culture and beliefs and will respect the differences[g]. In addition, the school must try to do the following: (1) give each student an appreciation of worth, (2) educate students the variety of cultures around the world and respect them by creating projects, for example give each student a country so they can research and present what they learned and why they would appreciate the country, (3) create a challenge to speak only positive things for a whole week, not only in school but outside school as well, (4) teachers must respond to any kind of insensitivity when it occurs thus creating an environment of equal respect among all students, (5) teachers must recognize that their behavior sets a big example for his or her students thus creating a common goal of equal respect and acceptance of the differences with not only among students but teachers as well, (6) create diversity clubs that promote diversity and respect which not only students join by teachers and faculty can join, and lastly, (7) create hypothetical situations where students, who observe when bullying occurs, can help to intervene and stop the instances of prejudice[h].

All of these possibilities can create a prejudice-free elementary school and these challenging ideas give importance to the contact hypothesis, which was established by a well-known psychologist, Gordon W. Allport. The contact hypothesis contains six sets of conditions that can improve relations among diverse groups that are undergoing conflict. Those six sets of conditions include: equal status, common goals, intergroup cooperation, promoting equality, multiple contacts with multiple members and informal person contacts (Aronson, 2012).[i]

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