Bullying: How Can It Be Prevented?

Bullying is a term used to describe a form of harassment perpetrated by someone who is in some way more powerful, physically or socially than his peers or the people in the immediate environment. While there are those who say that bullying is something that children will soon outgrow , there is no denying the fact that bullying has become prevalent in most schools all over America today.

Given this alarmingly high rate of bullying, the relevance of coming up with methods by which to deal with this social problem becomes more and more apparent. However, to be able to formulate a process by which bullying can effectively be prevented it necessary to first examine bullying, its elements, types and causes. Only through an understanding of bullying can parents, teachers and schools properly come up with the necessary steps to reduce or totally remove the presence of bullying.

BULLYING Main Elements of Bullying The bullying has been identified by researchers as possessing the following characteristics or elements: aggressive and negative behavior, repeatedly carrying out of the behavior, existent in a relationship with a great imbalance of power and the behavior as being “purposeful” (Hazler 1997). When these characteristics exhibit themselves in any relationship that a person has with another person, it is highly likely that there is bullying.
The aggressive and negative behavior can often be manifested in other factors outside of the relationship between the bully and the victim such as in the classroom or in the manner that the bully interacts with people in authority as compared to the interaction among his (bully) peers. Bullying is not a single and isolated occurrence. A single case of abuse or aggression, be it physical or mental, is often not a case of bullying as it may just be the result of “flaring tempers” or “minor disagreements” among school children (Hazler 1997). Bullying involves constant aggression over a period of time.
In relationships where there is a great imbalance in power between the parties, bullying is most likely to occur. The more powerful and aggressive person has been found to exercise a certain influence over the weaker party and to dominate the other party. Bullying is not just a series of random acts of aggression. According to a study, “the acts perpetrated by a bully are not just random acts of aggression but a series of well designed acts aimed at effectively exercising domination of the victim and being able to extract a certain reaction that the bully is looking (Batsche 1994).
When all of these elements are present in a relationship, bullying is most likely to be occurring or to occur. While these elements are not conclusive in proving or showing the existence of bullying, the existence of these elements has been shown to determine to a certain extent the presence of bullying. Types of Bullying Bullying can basically be segregated into two distinct categories, direct bullying and indirect bullying or social aggression. Direct bullying involves direct physical aggression by the bully over the victim.
This type of bullying is most common among males and is exercised by those who are physically bigger than their peers. Indirect bullying is most common among females and younger children. This is done by “forcing the victim into social isolation through methods such as constant criticism of the victim, refusal to associate with the victim or by making the victim feel left out of any social activity (Batsche 1994). ” Bullying may manifest itself in different ways depending on the direct environment and the parties involved.
“Bullying,” according to a recent study, “is the assertion of power through aggression. Its forms change with age: school playground bullying, sexual harassment. Gang attacks, date violence, assault, marital violence, child abuse, workplace harassment and elder abuse. (Pepler and Craig 1997)”. Reasons for Bullying While bullying is caused mostly by reasons personal to the bully, researches have pinpointed certain factors as key to understanding why bullying exists in the first place.
Researchers have indicated that people who bully have personalities that are authoritarian, combined with a strong need to control (Kim 2006). The same study indicates that a deficit in social skills and a prejudicial view of subordinates can be particular risk factors. Other factors have been determined to be the following: 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. (Kim 2006)
TAKING A STAND AGAINST BULLYING Role of Parents, Teachers and Schools Parents, Teachers and Schools should take an active role in remedying the problem of bullying. Bullying is a behavior which often occurs during ones childhood and in certain cases continues in the immediate environment of these bullies upon reaching adulthood. One of the keys to solving this problem therefore lies in being able to deal with the problem in its “infancy” stage (Harris 2006). The following are steps that can be taken to deal with this situation.
Identifying the Problem The first step that can be done to properly address the problem of bullying is to be able to properly identify the presence of bullying. Most students or children who are victims of bullying are afraid to report to the proper authorities for fear of being bullied even more if they are found out. The victims are also hesitant to alert the proper authorities because they do not feel that the authorities can do anything to prevent such bullying from happening.
For these reason, it is important to be able to determine the existence of bullying based on other factors and manifestations. Some of these signs that a child is being bullied are the following: lowered self-esteem, unexplained broken personal possessions, loss of money, loss of personal items, unexplained bruises & injuries or stories that don’t add up, missing or incomplete school work, decreased success in class, acting out aggression at home, and lack of interest at social events that include other students.
At the first signs of these manifestations, steps should be taken to determine if there really is bullying going on and this can be best done by communicating to victim in a proper manner that something can be done about the situation if it is reported quickly. Encouraging Victims to Report the Bullying The second most important step in dealing with this problem lies in being able to show to the victim and to other victims who are unwilling to report incidences of bullying that reporting it to the proper authorities is the proper thing to do.
In most cases, victims of bullying are tentative to report any instance of bullying because they are not assured that the problem can be dealt with (Kim 2006). The best method is in being able to assure the victim that there are people who are there to support him and help him out in this process (Storch 2005). The victim has to be assured of the fact that he is not isolated from any help. The victim also needs to know that the incident will not increase in frequency or gravity once it has been reported to the proper authorities such as teachers or school personnel.
In being able to do this, the incidence of bullying can be drastically reduced when other children who have been victims themselves see that something can be done about the problem of bullying (Storch 2005). Assessing the Bully One of the most overlooked aspects in dealing with the problem of bullying has to do with being able to address the problem at the source which means dealing with the bully (Harris 2006).
Bullies who are encouraged or not shown the mistakes that they are committing have a high tendency of exhibiting such aggressive behavior outside of the school setting and eventually bringing them into the other environments which they are immersed in and thus perpetuating this wrongful behavior. The problem of bullying, as mentioned earlier, must be dealt with at its source in other to prevent more acts of bullying from happening.
This method however is trickier than it seems because when approaching or confronting a bully it must be remembered that the person may feel that such act is a sign of aggression and may react conformably. The steps with which to deal with a bully must be done in a very non-threatening manner thus reinforcing the idea that aggression is not the best way to deal with problems (Storch 2005). The bully must be made to understand that such aggressive behavior has a detrimental impact on not only the victim but on the psychological and emotional growth of the bully as well.
Counseling by an expert or peer counseling has been shown to be highly effective in these instances. CONCLUSION Bullying does not have to be something that society just has to tolerate. Neither does bullying have to be something that a child needs to experience and be able to “outgrow” in order to become a more mature and responsible adult. As this discourse has shown, there are indeed steps that can be taken by persons in authority to curb the occurrences of bullying. The problem must first be identified correctly.
The next step is to properly address whatever feelings the victim may have regarding the incident and ensuring that the aggressive behavior that the victim has experienced does not repeat itself. After this, proper programs to encourage witnesses and victims to report any incidents of bullying that occur have to be done. The final step in solving this social problem is in trying to address the problem from the side of the bully and ensuring that whatever reason the bully had for doing such is given attention and making sure that the event does not happen again.
Proper implementation of these measures will surely help in reducing if not ridding society of this problem concerning bullying. References: Batsche, G. M. , & Knoff, H. M. Bullies and their victims: Understanding a pervasive problem in the schools, (1994) School PSYCHOLOGY REVIEW, 23 (2), 165-174. EJ 490 574. Hazler, R. J. , Carney, J. V. , Green, S. , Powell, R. , & Jolly, L. S. Areas of Expert Agreement on Identification of School Bullies and Victims, (1997). School Psychology International, 18, 3-12. Kim, B. L.
Leventhal, Y. -J. Koh, A. Hubbard, and W. T. Boyce School Bullying and Youth Violence: Causes or Consequences of Psychopathologic Behavior? Arch Gen Psychiatry, September 1, 2006; 63(9): 1035 – 1041. Storch, E. and D. R. Ledley Peer Victimization and Psychosocial Adjustment in Children: Current Knowledge and Future Directions Clinical Pediatrics, January 1, 2005; 44(1): 29 – 38. Harris, S. and C. Hathorn Texas Middle School Principals’ Perceptions of Bullying on Campus NASSP Bulletin, March 1, 2006; 90(1): 49 – 69.

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