PERFORMING ARTS STUDENTS BULLIED MORE, STATISTICS SHOW
November 30, 2017
Many people during their lifetime experience humiliation through bullying. For many, it begins at a young age, however, it can still be prevalent in adults as well. As bullying has become an important topic in America, and the solution to keep it to a minimum has not reached the same importance. Every day, kids are bullied for several different reasons and it has become out of control. According to the “Ambassadors 4 Kids Club”, recent studies and statistics show that 77% of students are bullied mentally, verbally, and physically. Bullying begins as early as the elementary school level, but increases substantially during middle school primarily. Nearly 2 in 5 students who identified as arts students have a chance of being bullied whereas less than 1 in 3 non-arts middle school students according to a new national arts education study.
As the focus of bullying seems to be more directed towards students that have interests in visual or performing arts, it is has become an issue that should never be overlooked. However, it is crucial to be aware of the certain types of bullying and their differences in regard to gender. The study indicated that female students have a higher chance of either acting as the bully or being bullied by “so-called social or relational aggression”. This type of bullying is more unforeseen however can have lasting effects due to things like social segregation occurring or the spread of various rumors in the student’s social group.
For males, students that are bullied or acting as the bully have the higher chance of being involved in physical violence which is more on display than the female type of bullying. According to the study, male performing arts students had a 40% chance of suffering from bully-induced physical harm, compared to a 30% chance for their peers that are not performing arts students. As a result of these statistics, many researchers are not sure as to why more arts students suffer from bullying, although some blame the music and theatre subjects in the educational system.
“If we believe that arts education is good for kids, then it’s not because arts students are somehow protected from bullying at school. In fact, the benefits that come from studying music and the arts somehow overcome the facts that music and theatre students are bullied more” said Ken Elpus, Associate Professor of Choral Music Education at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Although there is an ongoing statistic of music and theatre students having a higher chance of being bullied, some do think otherwise. “The act of bullying is an epidemic proportion. It has absolutely nothing to do with that the kids study or what they prefer.” Says Dr. Galen Clark who is the Director of the Performing Arts Department at Heritage Christian High School. “The problem does not lie in those who are bullied, rather the problem lies in those who choose to bully.”
Many performing artists and students today still have memories of being bullied during their time in elementary and middle school. “I was just poked fun of by my baseball team. I didn’t do choir until my senior year because of that.” Said Robbie Thayer who is a graduate student at Azusa Pacific University.
“I think males are particularly targeted for these activities because there is a stigma in which guys cannot be expressive and dramatic,” says Oscar Lau who is a freshman at APU. Performing arts of any kind encompass both of these qualities.”
The ongoing epidemic of bullying has only increased as years have gone by. Back in 2000, according to the Hamilton Spectator, there was a report on theatre arts students that attended Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School wishing to end bullying at their school and at schools across the country. The circumstances that were described as included “physical abuse, racial discrimination, and intimidation.” The students performed a 15-minute play that raised the awareness during the three-hour evening event called Artsfest 2000, which is an annual celebration of the performing arts held that year at Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School.
As bullying becomes more aware in our country today, many hope that the effort to decrease its presence in schools will increase.