Nurses are in a position to advocate the development of comprehensive health policies. Bullying in Miami-Dade schools is a problem in need for regulatory analysis. The purpose of the present work is to explore the issue of school bullying in Miami-Dade County and propose a policy solution. The paper includes a brief overview of the problem and the current state of law and policy related to bullying. The context of the problem and the current policy options are considered. Reasons why the existing policies against bullying do not work are included and discussed. A critique of evidence related to school bullying and nurses' position in the selected policy issue is provided. The importance of the chosen issue for nurses is also discussed.
Bullying is one of the most pervasive public health problems in Miami-Dade County and the rest of the United States. Although the incidence and prevalence of school bullying vary greatly across counties and territories, they are high enough to necessitate the development of comprehensive policy solutions. The importance of the issue is justified by the diversity of negative effects it has on the health and wellness of school learners. It also has profound implications for the nursing care provided by school nurses and their colleagues in clinical settings. Senator Daphne Campbell represents Miami-Dade County. Apart from being an experienced policymaker, Rep. Campbell is also a registered nurse. She definitely understands the complexity of the bullying problems facing Miami-Dade County schools and can speed up the implementation of new policy initiatives aimed to reduce the scope of bullying across the state.
Formulating a Healthcare Policy Worksheet
Bullying is a recurrent topic in educational and nursing literature. It is defined as "repetitive, systematic, intentional, and with an asymmetry of power between peers". It can manifest in a diversity of ways and take many forms, from intentional pushing and name-calling to gossiping and rumor spreading. The issue of bullying is of particular interest to me and to the profession of nursing, since it has pervasively negative impacts on individual and public health. Contemporary researchers list a whole set of health and behavioral effects of bullying, such as eating disorders and even suicide. Simultaneously, nurses, and school nurses in particular, are in a unique position to advocate the implementation of systemic policy reforms and prevent bullying behaviors in schools.
The specific problem considered is bullying in Miami-Dade public schools. This problem has been widely recognized both by the public school authorities in Miami-Dade County and the policymakers working in Florida Senate. As a result of a collective effort, in 2008 Florida Legislature passed the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act. Under the discussed law, all districts across the State of Florida must have effective policies that would prohibit bullying against students on the school premises, during school-sponsored events, and via school computer networks. However, as Clark notes, these policies and laws have proved to be ineffective in tackling the issue of bullying in public schools. Their function has been limited to raising public awareness of bullying and victimization on school grounds. The lack of effective policy mechanisms makes it particularly difficult to stop violence and abuse against students. This is the problem, which warrants attention and requires regulatory change.
The existing policies and laws do not fulfill their anti-bullying mission. According to George, among the 600 young people surveyed as part of her study, 90 percent acknowledged being victims of bullying at some point of their studies. In other words, the existing policies and laws leave 90 percent of students vulnerable to the risks of victimization and abuse on school ground. Weddle goes further and explores the reasons behind the statutory failures to stop bullying in schools. In his view, most laws and statutory models regulating the problem of bullying do not require that schools engage all stakeholders in reforming and transforming their cultures. Yet, it is culture that plays a pivotal role in creating a climate of bullying. Thus, a regulatory change is needed to obligate public schools to change their organizational culture, while engaging all stakeholders in the proposed change.
The context surrounding the issue of bullying in public schools in Miami-Dade is quite controversial. On the one hand, public education authorities constantly emphasize their commitment to preventing the acts of bullying and violence on the school grounds. On the other hand, nurses enjoy little, if any, participation in the regulatory activities aimed at reducing the scope of violence in Miami-Dade schools. However, it is nurses who play one of the central roles in mitigating and preventing the risks of violence. Besides, the concept of bullying is too vague, which prevents the development of effective laws and regulations. Numerous policy options are available to school and public health nurses. For once, they could stay away from the problem and rely on the existing policy mechanisms to deal with school violence. However, they could opt for changing the existing laws in ways that would facilitate the prevention of bullying activities within school premises. As patient advocates and members of the most caring profession, nurses cannot stay aside of the problem. The chosen legislator should pass new regulations, which will obligate public schools in Miami-Dade County to investigate every instance of bullying at school, provide bullying education to every student, teacher, and school nurse, conduct regular assessments of the students engage in bullying, and report any individual and public health consequences of bullying to the state health authorities.
Unfortunately, the problem with bullying is that it is difficult to find out the current status of the issue, particularly in Miami-Dade County. Due to the veiled character of bullying, most public schools do not provide any official statistics regarding the incidence and prevalence of the problem. At the same time, although bullying is a federal problem, the immediate target is the State of Florida. It is at the state level that the most effective regulations can be developed to minimize students' exposure to violence in Miami-Dade County. This being said, Senator Daphne Campbell will be contacted to facilitate regulatory and legislative changes as related to bullying.
Critiquing Empirical Evidence
Bullying in public schools is one of the most widely discussed topics in nursing literature. Nurse researchers have developed a thorough understanding of bullying behaviors and the effects of violence on students' individual and public health. According to Perron, bullying results in numerous psychological and physical health complications in students. Moreover, students who face bullying within the school premises are more likely to have unexplained psychosomatic symptoms. George links bullying behaviors to eating disorders in students. Cooper et al. also believe that adolescents who experienced bullying and intimidation at school are at greater risk for developing suicidal intentions than their peers who never felt discrimination or abuse. Unfortunately, the problem with the current research is that it is limited to the analysis of bullying impacts. Little evidence is provided to inform the development of effective preventive measures. Although the centrality of nurses to reducing and preventing bullying has been widely recognized, a more systematic effort is needed to promote new policies and legislation that would ultimately lead to tangible improvements in public education and health.
Importance of the Issue
The importance of the issue is justified by the diversity of the negative effects it has on individual and public health. Young people are particularly vulnerable to negative influences, which can have profound implications for their physical and emotional development later in life. Simultaneously, the role played by health professionals in combating school violence should not be disregarded. Pigozi and Bartoli are right saying that school nurses are in an advantageous position to prevent bullying on the school grounds. Given the growing costs of health care and the public health implications of bullying, it is high time for nurses to take a proactive policy position and advocate for relevant changes in the regulatory field in ways that will protect students in Miami-Dade County from school violence.
Bullying in Miami-Dade County schools is commonplace. State regulations to protect school children from violence do not bring any positive results. State legislators are in a position to improve the situation. New regulations are needed to mandate the provision of bullying prevention training and education to children and adults, while obligating schools to report the cases of violence and their health outcomes to state authorities. The proposed legislation will create a new culture of responsibility in Miami-Dade schools. It will also contribute to the development and implementation of high-quality bullying prevention programs in school settings.