Adolescence is a period when people experience a transition between their childhood needs and knowledge to adulthood concerns. Spiritual and psychological development at this period is significantly determined by the environment (Benavides, 2014). Therefore, in modern schools, teachers and administrators do everything possible to create equal and safe environments for students. However, not all bullying acts can be prevented, and some people become victims or observers, which influences their psychological development. In this paper, an act of bullying among adolescents and the worth of social work interventions will be discussed.
A group of girls from a cheerleading team is not satisfied with the performance of one of their members and starts insulting her by rumoring about her unsuccessful relationships with another girl. They shout out offensive phrases and try to avoid her, hinting that they do not support her sexual preferences. The point is that this victim of bullying is not a lesbian, but another girl, who witnesses this experience and questions her orientation at the moment, is afraid to talk to someone. She believes that it is wrong to feel attraction to another girl and, as a result, stay socially isolated and frightened.
There are many social work interventions and practices that can be offered to students in schools to prevent bullying. Jenkins et al. (2017) consider the development of social skills as a positive defense of behaviors among girls and boys. These skills include empathy, cooperation, and responsibility and are explained as observable behaviors in human relationships (Jenkins et al., 2017). A social worker uses these skills to change the cycle of events and help female students deal with their problems and concerns. Some demonstration of their empathy and understanding becomes a solid background for establishing trustful relationships with time. A victim of bullying learns how to respond to bullies, and a witness finds out how to share personal concerns.
The acts of bullying determine the quality of student relationships, as well as their psychological development. Victims or witnesses of bullying usually fall into two categories, either becoming shy and socially withdrawn or demonstrating aggression and irritation (Zastrow et al., 2019). With time, young people develop wrong interpretations of human behaviors and cannot talk about their problems aloud, which results in depression, suicidal thoughts, and even deaths (Zastrow et al., 2019). Their psychological problems continue to grow if no interventions are offered and may create a number of negative physiological changes, including weight gain/loss or exanthema.
To predict the spread of psychological and physiological changes in adolescents, it is recommended to involve social workers, families, and teachers in discussing student relationships. One of the possible interventions is the responsibility of a school psychologist to promote awareness of different forms of bullying and their negative impact on children at schools (Brown et al., 2017). Education of students and other stakeholders about bullying is a chance to recognize what behaviors are wrong, what help to obtain, and why changes are necessary. Social workers should cooperate with psychologists to encourage communication, and knowledge and appropriate facts about the topic must not be neglected.
In general, bullying provokes a number of negative emotions and situations when students need additional help and treatment. There are many steps to predict wrong behaviors and protect adolescents. The psychological development of victims and witnesses of bullying is hard to predict, but the goal of social workers and local school psychologists is to communicate, support, and educate, answering all questions and clarifying situations when no hope is left.
Benavides, L. E. (2014).The spirituall journey from childhood to adolescence: Pathways to strength and healing. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work, 33(3/4), 201–217.
Brown, C. F., Demaray, M. K., Tennant, J. E., & Jenkins, L. N. (2017). Cyber victimization in high school: Measurement, overlap with face-to-face victimization, and associations with social-emotional outcomes. School Psychology Review, 46(3), 288–303.
Jenkins, L. N., Demaray, M. K., & Tennant, J. (2017). Social, emotional, and cognitive factors associated with bullying. School Psychology Review, 46(1), 42–64.
Zastrow, C. H., Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hessenauer, S. L. (2019). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (11th ed.). Cengage Learning.