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Bullying simply refers to a form of specific behavior expressed through aggression where a student is exposed to negative acts repeatedly or overtime by a student or a group of students. These actions of bullying normally occur in an environment of power imbalance between the aggressor and the victim (Grundherr 279). Bullying can take place in any environment where the aggressor feels more advantaged in terms of exercising power such as at home, streets, workplace, public places, schools, or through the internet. Bullying is usually an anti-social behavior which is an expression of other conditions such as predictor of criminality presently or in future (Deepshikha 415). In young people, bullying is expressed through extreme coercion, rumors, ridicule or even inappropriate touching. This paper explores the causes of bullying and its impact to the lives of victims.
Bullying in students is common and the actions and behaviors include intimidating other students in order to exercise some of form of power over them. For instance, the actions may include verbal abuse, rude gestures, physical contact, or even making face gestures. Essentially, bullying is usually manifested in different ways which include physical aggression like kicking or hitting, verbal aggression such as threatening and name calling, or relational aggression where the victim is usually excluded from the group, shunned, or ridiculed (Deepshikha 415).
Bullying can be contributed by several factors in the family, the process of nurturing, or even the social environment surrounding the person. Research has shown that bullies are associated with difficult family environment where they experience little care or they are often mistreated by the rest of the family members. It has been stated that children who are brought up in families which have physical and harsh discipline have a tendency of carrying the same behavior to others. Additionally, children who are brought up by authoritarian parents who are less involved and less warm may carry some bitterness in them which they will express in others. Inconsistence parenting as well as advocating for aggressive behavior forms part of the factors which broods bullying in other children (Deepshikha 416). Bullies can be noticed through their behavior in the family because they are less involved in the family, are less cohesive and are usually violent in conflict and disengaged. In schools, bullies have poor perceptions of the environment and are likely to take part in delinquent behavior in school and outside school such as substance abuse, vandalism, stealing and truancy.
Bullying behaviors are classified under three qualities depending on whether they are direct or indirect. These include: intentional bullying actions, repeated bullying behavior, and bullying behavior caused by power imbalance (Deepshikha 415). In some cases, bullying may involve a physical or a psychological threat or attack meted on a less powerful person in order to frighten and upset the person, in some instances long-term or short-term.
Bullying and victimization in schools
Adolescence stage is one of the most critical period of human development where adolescents acquire and consolidate crucial behaviors socially. Bullying usually occurs in all stages of growth but it peaks during the late childhood to middle adolescent stage. It has also been observed that after these stages, bullying decreases as the aggressors begins to mature. In a school setting, the younger students are more victimized by the older students due to power imbalance (Grundherr 280). This occurs more between boys than in girls. According to research, more than 40% of students usually report having gone through bullying at some point during their school life. It has also been observed that bullying peaks at the age between13 and 14 years when the students are transiting into secondary school. A good number of students, about 35%, usually report having engaged in some form of bullying during their early years in secondary school.
Bullying behaviors vary according to gender, grade and age. Most victims are usually girls and boys who are small, while aggressors are usually masculine boys. Girls tend to have organized bullying which is social in manner such as rumor spreading, friendship manipulation, or shunning some of their friends (Tehseen and Nesheen 1040). On the other hand, boys bullying is manifested through behaviors aggressive activities such threats, verbal abuse and physical attacks (Grundherr 290). Bullying behavior is heightened by peer pressure which makes it more problematic in the teenage stage. Peer friendship can have positive or negative influence on bullying. This depends on the quality of friendship. Negative influence may result into risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking, flirting, date rape, substance abuse, dating, risky sexual behavior, school drop-out, abduction, or aggressiveness.
The Impact of Bullying
Increased aggressive behavior has been observed to be as a result of being bullied by other peers in childhood. This causes adolescents to seek autonomy from their parents and find solace in their peers where they discuss their fears, problems, doubts and feelings, hence increasing the bond with their friends. This increased reliance on friends for the much needed social support increases the pressure to attain some social status (Grundherr 2017, p288). The pressure is due to the notion of gaining social status in order to be accepted in the group and is related to bullying and constant teasing. Due to the experiences of bullying, adolescents may be pushed to belong to a delinquent group which does not promote health engagements and behaviors (Tehseen and Nesheen 1037). This combination of risky social group with limited access or involvement in school activities increases the bullying behaviors and associated actions such as delinquency.
Bullying occurs during the puberty stage in girls, especially for those who mature early. Such girls will experience harassment and ridicule due to their facial experience as well as their weight (Grundherr 283). Due to their transformations in their bodies such as curves and enlarged breasts, girls become objects of teasing and flirting. Bullying has also been associated with mental health. Studies have shown that there is high correlation between bullying and mental health. It has been observed that children who experience depression have a tendency if engaging in bullying behaviors (Tehseen and Nesheen 1038). Victimization results from anger and aggression, as well as low social intelligence. Further studies on interpretation of social situations, social information process and response to skills concluded that victims of bullying usually have skill deficits. Children who have gone through victimization usually have low cognitive ability.
Approach to Prevent Bullying in Schools
According to information provided by the National Center of Education regarding 2016 statistics on bullying, more than 20% of students in schools reported incidents of being bullied. It is a worrying statistic especially considering the myriad adverse ways in which bullying can affect the well-being of students. There are approaches that school administrations can use to curb bullying in schools. Teaching empathy and kindness is one approach that allows students to approach problems and ideas from multiple perspectives hence making it hard for them to concentrate on bullying others. As well, educators can create opportunities within school for students to connect more hence fostering a sense of a community within classroom. This lowers the incidents of bullying and provides healing for students who are mostly targets (Deepshikha 413).
Additionally, researchers have found out that small behaviors most of the time signal the beginning of bullying patterns. These behaviors are mostly missed by educators who most of the time have too much to handle ignoring the indicators but if attention is focused on these indicators then bullying would be curbed. Another approach would be for educators to use arts as a powerful tool for creating context whereby young people would view different situations from different viewpoint. These arts as well create a vehicle for conversations. They also act to redcue concentric circles in schools (Deepshikha 414).
Bullying is a common behavior in children particularly those who have experienced some form of mistreatment in their early years of growth. Bullies usually grow in an environment of aggressive behavior and they look for opportunities of venting their anger in their peers. Peer pressure contributes to the levels of aggressiveness especially where bullies have to attain a certain social status to belong to a social group. Bullying is also associated with delinquency behavior. Boys are more likely to engage in bullying than girls, although the forms of bullying in boys differ from those of girls. Bullying has many faces, but the impact is immense because the actions affect mental health.
Deepshikha, Bishnoi. School bullying and victimization in adolescents. Indian Journal of Health & Wellbeing. 2018, Vol. 9 Issue 3, p413-416. 4p.
Grundherr, Michael, et al,. School Bullying and Moral Reasoning Competence. Social Development. May2017, Vol. 26 Issue 2, p278-294. 17p. DOI: 10.1111/sode.12199.
Tehseen, Nazir and Nesheen Falak. Impact of school bullying on psychological well-being of adolescents. Indian Journal of Health & Wellbeing. 2015, Vol. 6 Issue 10, p1037-1040. 4p.
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