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School is starting soon and I wanted to share this article I came across on bullying.

I have two kids in elementary school, one in first grade and one in fourth grade and I definitely worry about my kids being bullied because they were both bullied before. My son was bullied by a boy in his class who actually punched him once. My son never complained about being bullied until we had a parent/teacher meeting and the teacher asked us if our son had ever mentioned this boy picking on him. We asked our son about it and he told us all of the things the boy was doing to him. We wrote a letter to the teacher asking her to keep this boy away from our son and she did.

Our daughter was bullied in the second grade by some girls in her class and by a girl in another class. My daughter would cry about the way she was treated. She didn’t want us saying anything about it because she felt it would make it worse. We went to her teacher and told her teacher what was happening in class and her teacher took care of it without making it worse for our daughter. There was really no getting away from the other girl who was not in her class and this girl said some really bad things to our daughter. We ended up putting her in another school for the next school year. Our daughter was bullied in the third grade by an older girl who picked on her for little things and called her four-eyes. Our daughter didn’t put up with it and stood her ground. She ended up befriending the girl later in the year.

We encourage our kids to stand up for other kids who are being bullied.

It breaks my heart when my kids get hurt and I’m sure you feel the same way about your kids. It is so important to talk to your kids and find out what is going on with them at school. Talk to your kids about bullying and standing up to bullies.

I just wanted to share this information with you because I feel as though it is very important. I know it is a lot to read but try to take the time. Thanks

In schools, bullying occurs in all areas. It can occur in nearly any part in or around the school building, though it more often occurs in PE, recess, hallways, bathrooms, on school buses and waiting for buses, classes that require group work and/or after school activities. Bullying in school sometimes consists of a group of students taking advantage of or isolating one student in particular and gaining the loyalty of bystanders who want to avoid becoming the next victim. These bullies taunt and tease their target before physically bullying the target. Bystanders may participate or watch, sometimes out of fear of becoming the next victim.

Bullying can also be perpetrated by teachers and the school system itself: There is an inherent power differential in the system that can easily predispose to subtle or covert abuse (relational aggression or passive aggression), humiliation, or exclusion — even while maintaining overt commitments to anti-bullying policies.

Bullying is an act of repeated aggressive behavior in order to intentionally hurt another person, physically or mentally. Bullying is characterized by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person.

Bullying is abusive treatment, the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when habitual and involving an imbalance of power. It may involve verbal harassment, physical assault or coercion and may be directed persistently towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality or ability. The “imbalance of power” may be social power and/or physical power. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a “target.”

Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse – emotional, verbal and physical. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation. Bullying can be defined in many different ways. Although the United Kingdom currently has no legal definition of bullying, some U.S. states have laws against it.

Bullying ranges from simple one-on-one bullying to more complex bullying in which the bully may have one or more ‘lieutenants’ who may seem to be willing to assist the primary bully in his bullying activities. Bullying in school and the workplace is also referred to as peer abuse.

The effects of bullying can be serious and even fatal.

The link between bullying and school violence has attracted increasing attention since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. That year, two shotgun-wielding students, both of whom had been identified as gifted and who had been bullied for years, killed 13 people, wounded 24 and then committed suicide. A year later an analysis by officials at the U.S. Secret Service of 37 premeditated school shootings found that bullying, which some of the shooters described “in terms that approached torment,” played a major role in more than two-thirds of the attacks. It is estimated that about 60-80% of children are bullied at school. Since bullying is mostly ignored; it may provide an important clue in crowd behaviour and passer-by behaviour. Numerous psychologists have been puzzled by the inactivity of crowds in urban centres when crimes occur in crowded places. Many have suggested bullying as one of the reason of this decline in emotional sensitivity and acceptance of violence as normal. When someone is bullied, it is not only the bully and victim who are becoming less sensitive to violence. In most cases, the friends and classmates of the bully and the victim accept the violence as normal.

The National Conference of State Legislatures said:

“In 2002, a report released by the U.S. Secret Service concluded that bullying played a significant role in many school shootings and that efforts should be made to eliminate bullying behavior.”

There is a strong link between bullying and suicide. Bullying leads to several suicides every year. It is estimated that between 15 and 25 children commit suicide every year in the UK alone, because they are being bullied.

Characteristics of bullies and bully accomplices

Studies have shown that envy and resentment may be motives for bullying. Research on the self-esteem of bullies has produced equivocal results. While some bullies are arrogant and narcissistic, others can use bullying as a tool to conceal shame or anxiety or to boost self-esteem: by demeaning others, the abuser him/herself feels empowered.

Researchers have identified other risk factors such as depression and personality disorders, as well as quickness to anger and use of force, addiction to aggressive behaviors, mistaking others’ actions as hostile, concern with preserving self-image, and engaging in obsessive or rigid actions. A combination of these factors may also be cause of this behavior.

It is often suggested that bullying behavior has its origin in childhood. As a child who is inclined to act as a bully ages, his or her related behavior patterns will often also become more sophisticated. Schoolyard pranks and ‘rough-housing’ may develop into more subtle, yet equally effective adult level activities such as administrative end-runs, well-planned and orchestrated attempts at character assassination, or other less obvious, yet equally forceful forms of coercion.

“If aggressive behaviour is not challenged in childhood, there is a danger that it may become habitual. Indeed, there is research evidence, to indicate that bullying during childhood puts children at risk of criminal behaviour and domestic violence in adulthood.”

Bullies may bully because they themselves have been the victim of bullying. There is also evidence that bullies have a much higher likelihood to be incarcerated in the future.

Often bullying takes place in the presence of a large group of relatively uninvolved bystanders. In many cases, it is the bully’s ability to create the illusion that he or she has the support of the majority present, that instills the fear of ‘speaking out’ in protestation of the bullying activities being observed by the group. Unless the ‘bully mentality’ is effectively challenged in any given group in its earlier stages, often the ‘bully mentality’ becomes an accepted norm within the group. In such groups where the ‘bully mentality’ has been allowed to become a dominant factor in the group environment, a steady stream of injustices and abuses often becomes a regular and predictable group experience. Such a toxic environment often remains as the status-quo of the group for an extended period of time, until somehow the bullying-cycle should eventually come to an end. Bystanders to bullying activities are often unable to recognize the true cost that silence regarding the bullying activities has to both the individual and to the group. A certain inability to fully empathize is also usually present in the typical bystander, but to a lesser degree than in the bully. The reversal of a ‘bully mentality’ within a group is usually an effort which requires much time, energy, careful planning, coordination with others, and usually the undertaking of a certain ‘risk’.

It is the general unwillingness of bystanders to expand these types of energies and to undertake these types of risks that bullies often rely upon in order to maintain their monopolies of power. Until or unless at least one individual who has at least some abilities to work with others, opts to expand whatever energies may be needed to reverse the ‘bully mentality’ of the group, the ‘bully mentality’ is often perpetuated within a group for months, years or even decades. Bystanders who have been able to establish their own ‘friendship group’ or ‘support group’ have been found to be far more likely to opt to speak out against bullying behavior than those who have not.

Intervention

Despite the large number of individuals that do not agree with bullying practices, there a very few that will intervene on behalf of the victim. These individuals are labeled bystanders and unfortunately usually tend to lean toward the bully’s side. In 85% of bullying incidents, bystanders are involved in teasing the victim or egging on the bully.

However, in most bullying incidents, bystanders usually do nothing. If the bully faces no obstruction from the people around, it gives permission to continue behaving badly. There are a wide variety of reasons why children choose not to intervene. Typically they worry that they will make the situation worse or risk becoming the next victim, due to the fear that children experience as the bystanders, which is a direct cause of the decline of anti-bullying attitudes. This points to the urgency for a better understanding of children’s attitudes to bullying and the factors that seem to predict these attitudes.

Researchers have been analyzing the just-world belief theory to help understand the decline of anti-bullying attitudes. “This is the idea that people get what they deserve and deserve what they get.” The study determined that children do seek to understand, justify, and rectify the different injustices they come across in everyday life. However further research is needed to link the two together.

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