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Sarah Wagner

Dr. Gerrity

MUSE 353

28 April 2018

Adolescence Paper

As a future educator, I must combat the large problem that is bullying. Adolescence is a

time of change that the age group is not prepared for. Students may act out or feel uncomfortable

in both school and home environments. Adults may remember the stressful time in their lives,

but differing eras and personalities make it harder to understand how today’s adolescent feel.

Adolescents often resort to bullying to combat their feelings. I must find ways to aid students in

expressing their feelings in a positive way, rather than through hurting others.

The transition from elementary to middle school is a terrifying time for adolescents, as

they must redefine their social status in their new environment. Uneasiness in a peer group may

result in the need to put down others to feel superior. Though schools claim there is no tolerance

for bullying, victims constantly come forward. Bullies intentionally and repeatedly cause harm

and discomfort to their victims. Because of bullies’ persistence, bullying can be seen as name-

calling, spreading rumors, punching, and other hurtful actions (Williford, et al. 536). The

constant abuse brought upon victims raises the risk of depression and anxiety. Bullies may suffer

along with their victims, forming aggressive behavior and falling behind in school. The constant

terrorizing of victims of bullying reduces the ability to empathize with others, according to the

study (Williford, et al. 537). Victims, because of their exposure to cruel intentions, cannot

properly understand another person’s emotional state. Bullies, because of their persistent torture,

do not care for others’ emotions.

In “not much just chillin’,” Linda Perlstein addresses the subject of bullying as a common

occurrence. For example, Jimmy, a middle schooler, does not bother to defend himself when

others call him names or make fun of him. Rather, he does not want the “popular people, because

then a lot of people gang up on you” (Perlstein 106). To combat the abuse, Jimmy begins to

make comments to those he sees below him. If he does not see himself at the bottom, he feels

better about himself. Adults do not understand why certain people are victimized because

adolescents have specific, peer-accepted reasons to “hate” another person their age (Perlstein

108). The classroom environment should be a place to express positivity. Oftentimes, students

may put down others due to bad grades or poor performance. I will create a classroom that

supports individual work in a musical setting. I will not follow a strict grading system. Because I

want to promote individuality, I will try to create a curriculum with options for different

interpretations. To ensure that all students are involved, I will have a balance of group and

individual work in a secondary general music class.

Though I will attempt to combat physical bullying in the classroom, I cannot solve the

entire issue of bullying. Cyberbullying has been on the rise because of the vast amount of

adolescents on social media. Adolescents use social media to express themselves or to create a

persona they want to elicit (Underwood 147). Cyberbullying is not favored towards either gender

or age group. Usually, cyberbullies are those who are not confident in a physical encounter

(Underwood 148). Aspects of physical bullying, such as name calling and rumors, are the most

prevalent on the internet due to the ability to direct message and comment on posts.

Adolescents seek acceptance, which is equal to “likes” on Instagram (Sherman et. al 38).

The most popular picture influences an adolescent whether it is posing a positive or negative

influence. If a risky behavior is promoted on the Internet, adolescents may see it as acceptable
and a commonality among peers (Sherman et al. 45). Adolescents may think that the “party

atmosphere” will create a larger pool of friends. If popular pictures of celebrities or other internet

influencers involve alcohol or other party culture, students may think that they must copy those

behaviors to become well-liked. Confidence is lower in adolescents due to their changing minds,

bodies, and environments. To gain confidence, adolescents rely on Instagram “likes” to define

their worth and produce social reward (Sherman et al. 39). Adolescents of both genders may feel

upset if their expression is not well-received on social media. They may feel that they are

disliked or are ugly if pictures of them are not shared or commented positively on. For example,

selfies are a popular type of picture posted on Instagram. Some adolescents post the pictures in

hope that certain friends or peers will “like” or write a compliment underneath. If there is

feedback and attention, the person who posted the picture is satisfied.

Bullies crave attention when performing bad behavior, while outsiders observe and

defenders step in. The type of person you are in a bullying situation depends on your personality

and behavior. Personality and behavior are developed by each other (Pronk et al. 1071).

Personality interprets a situation, and behavior reacts to it. The outsiders and defenders in

bullying situations have both been found to be more agreeable and have prosocial tendencies

(Pronk et al. 1081). Outsiders were also found to not be as extraverted as defenders, causing

them to often intervene in a bullying situation. Lastly, outsiders were found to have high

sensitivity to punishment, further lowering their want to defend a victim (Pronk et al. 1084). A

person who is more of an activist will fight for victims. Though both defenders and outsiders will

claim that they are against bullying, not all have the personality to physically fight it.

A teacher must be sure to identify the act of bullying in a classroom and act as a

defender. Obvious name-calling or physical abuse is easy to address, but the secrets of
cyberbullying are much more difficult to decipher. In my classroom, I will establish a no

tolerance rule on day one. I want to ensure that my room will be a safe space and that I am a

trusted adult. Though I want to show that I will not tolerate bullying, I want to also communicate

that I will treat the students involved with respect rather than immediate consequence.

When dealing with a physical issue in my classroom, I will separate the bully and victim.

If I am teaching a secondary general music class, I can rearrange seats or put the contrasting

parties in different activity groups. In an instrumental setting, I will try my best to seat them as

far away from each other as possible. Disruptions during a rehearsal will be addressed after class

and I plan on sitting down with the students individually before talking to them as a group.

Because of the risk of outburst in extreme cases, I would have another trusted staff member with

me. On the other hand, I will try to distract behaviors such as slight teasing rather than address it.

Bullies are often craving attention and acceptance. If I were to compliment another student on his

or her work in class, the bully may be taken aback. I would be careful not to compliment the

victim right away due to the possible “teacher’s pet” insult. Bullies are known to twist good

qualities into bad if they despise their victim.

The popularity of cyberbullying poses a harder problem than visible bullying. Because

teachers do not have access to all social media account of studies nor their private messages,

only an individual student knows what is going on. Teachers must be aware of a change in mood

of their students. The most important way to build a successful classroom atmosphere is to be

aware. If a teacher has blinders on, the student is not the most important thing in the classroom.

A teacher’s purpose is to promote learning and strive for success. Teachers must take the

initiative to adapt teaching to fit all levels of learners, which also includes bullies and victims.
Overall, bullying will always be apparent in classrooms due to the changing bodies and

minds of adolescence. I will strive to combat bullying in my classroom to provide a safe space

for all students. As both a previous victim and bully, I will be honest with my students and

collaborate to produce solutions to problems. I will treat situations with respect rather than

embarrassing students in front of a group. Because of their obvious discomfort in their changing

lives, I plan to be a model and mentor for my adolescent students. A school should be a place of

comfort, learning, and development rather than a feared and dismal environment.

Perlstein, Linda. not much just chillin’. New York, Ballantine Books, 2003.

Pronk, Jeroen, et al. "Differential Personality Correlates of Early Adolescents’ Bullying-Related

Outsider and Defender Behavior." The Journal of Early Adolescence, vol. 35, no. 8, Nov.

2015, pp. 1069-1091. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/0272431614549628.

Sherman, Lauren E, et al. “Influence Via Instagram: Effects on Brain and Behavior in

Adolescence and Young Adulthood.” Child Development, vol. 89, no. 1, Jan/Feb 2018,

pp. 37-47. EBSCOhost,

Underwood, Marion K. and Samuel E. Ehrenreich. "The Power and the Pain of Adolescents’

Digital Communication: Cyber Victimization and the Perils of Lurking." American

Psychologist, vol. 72, no. 2, Feb-Mar, 2017, pp. 144-158. EBSCOhost,


Williford, Anne, et al. "The Effect of Bullying and Victimization on Cognitive Empathy

Development during the Transition to Middle School." Child & Youth Care Forum, vol.

45, no. 4, Aug. 2016, pp. 525-541. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s10566-015-9343-9.