Bullying is a worldwide problem that occurs around us everyday and everywhere. People experience some sort of bullying at some point in their lives, whether they are the victim or the bully. In this essay, I will focus on the causes and effects of bullying in the school environment.
But what exactly is bullying? There are multiple ways to define bullying. It can be described as repeated negative events, which occur over time; directed at a special individual and carried out by one or several people. Bullying is an act of aggression causing embarrassment, pain, or discomfort to another person. It’s an abuse of power that can either be planned or unintentional. In bullying, there’s a clear imbalance of power. Bullying is basically anything that makes a person feel hurt, whether it is physical or psychological. No matter if it is physical or psychological, bullying is wrong. There are two types of bullying. The first type is indirect bullying, which includes intentionally rejecting or freezing someone out of a group. The second type is direct bullying. There are three categories of direct bullying–physical bullying, verbal bullying, and bullying yourself. Physical bullying includes pushing, shoving, hitting, kicking, stealing, etc. Verbal bullying includes mockery, taunting, name-calling, verbal threats of violence, and so on. When you bully yourself, it usually includes emotional abuse. Telling yourself that you’re fat or ugly is an example of bullying yourself. These types of bullying occur everywhere, but the most common place where bullying occurs is at school. Why is the school environment so vulnerable to bullying? I will discuss where and why it occurs in the school environment, as well as the effects it has and how society can prevent bullying. Also, I will describe the common characteristics of bullies and victims.
Bullies are people who need to hurt, threaten, frighten, or control other people. They are often angry, upset, jealous, aggressive, mean, insensitive, and cruel. They usually lack self-confidence and gain confidence and feel powerful by controlling others. Bullies think that being hurtful, aggressive, and frightening is okay. Bullies are often thought of as stupid, although, they are very clever. They have little empathy for their victims and derive satisfaction from inflicting injury and suffering on others. They defend their actions by saying that their victim provoked them in some way. Other characteristics of a bully include being defiant or oppositional towards adults, with a tendency to break school rules. They’re antisocial and have little anxiety. Having a positive attitude about violence and being steered by impulses are some other traits often found in a bully. Although bullies seems to have very high self-esteem, under their aggressive surface they are actually insecure and have very low self-esteem. Children aren’t necessarily always the bullies. Also, men and women, of all ages, can both be bullies.
Bullies often don’t know any good ways of dealing with their problems and/or their parents fight instead of discussing their problems. They often come from homes where physical punishment is used or the parents have taught their children to strike back physically as a way to handle problems. Usually parental involvement and warmth are frequently lacking.
Victims can also be anybody, male or female, and can be of any age. But how do victims get picked? They could be anyone who’s either just in the wrong place at the wrong time or anyone who’s regarded as a “loser.” In general, there are two types of victims: passive victims and resistant victims. In passive victims, there is an acute sense of personal threat, which in most cases is followed by a strong emotional reaction of anxiety, panic, anger, fear, and/or humiliation. Passive victims seek to get away, cry, hide, and perhaps become severely despondent. On the other hand, in resistant victims there will be a sense of threat, unease, and maybe fear. The bullying is seen in a different light. It’s seen as a challenge to be met. Resistant victims may think of escaping, fighting back, acting nonchalantly, seeking help, or even distracting the bully. Although passive victims and resistant victims may react differently to bullying, they share the same qualities and characteristics.
Victims of bullying are shy, timid, afraid, unassertive, lacking in confidence, and people who allow others to control them. They’re anxious, insecure, and cautious. Victims are usually smaller, weaker, and/or younger than their bullies. The school environment is seen as frightening of unfriendly to many victims. They lack social skills and therefore, find it hard to make friends. Victims suffer from low self-esteem and rarely defend themselves in a bullying situation. Another characteristic is being seen as “different.” Being different includes being overweight, wearing glasses, or even being gay. They could simply be the victim because they’re new to the town or to the school. Victims are usually people who are late developers, which means that their bodies haven’t changed or developed yet. They are often clumsy and bad at sports. Also, they have a negative self-image.
People could be the victims of bullying because of their family life. Their family could be either very well off or even the extreme opposite, badly off. This could be a factor of who or who doesn’t gets bullied. Also, a victim could be bullied because their parents are the focus of public attention. For instance, a kid gets bullied at school because his dad is in jail. Victims are often socially isolated and therefore, are close to their parents. Victims’ parents could just simply be overprotective of their son or daughter.
As mentioned earlier, the most common place where bullying occurs is at school. The “hot spots” at school for bullying are in the classroom, on the playground or halls during breaks, and on the way to and from the school. People often wonder why these “hot spots” occur. The many factors that contribute to bullying may explain why bullying occurs more often in certain places than in others. Many people think that the size of the class has an effect on the amount of bullying that happens in the classroom. According to studies, neither the school size nor the class size has any significance for creating an environment where bullying occurs. There’s no proof that a highly populated school suffers from more bullying than a sparsely populated school. Other factors that people believe affect the amount of bullying are poor grades or failing in school. In fact, these factors don’t seem to influence the likelihood of bullying. Factors, such as the family’s economic status, are also not believed to make any difference as to who is bullied or who does the bullying. One factor that seems to diminish the vast amount of bullying that goes on, is whether or not an adult is near during breaks or anytime bullying could occur.
Bullying causes problems that can carry into adulthood both for the victims and the bullies. Bullying tends to increase some students’ isolation. Their peers don’t want to lose status by associating with the bullies. Also, they don’t want to increase the risk of being bullies themselves.
Bullying has a major impact on the victims’ lives. Some victims commit suicide or run away from home. Some victims suffer from depression and stress. People who are bullied often refuse to go to school and find it hard to trust anyone ever again. When the victims get older, they often have difficulty forming relationships. Roughly 7% of America’s eighth-graders stay home at least once a month because of bullying.
The bullies are affected by bullying too. They seem to maintain their behaviors into adulthood, negatively influencing their ability to develop and maintain positive relationships. Approximately 60% of bullies in grades six to nine had at least one criminal conviction by age 24.
How do we, as a society, decrease the amount of bullying that goes on? Especially since teachers and parents are generally unaware of the extent of the problem. Also, other children are either reluctant to get involved or simply don’t know how to help. We need to: develop whole-school bullying policies; implement extra-curricular activities; improve school ground environment; peer counselling; assertiveness training; and provide interventions at the school, class, and individual levels.
Prevention of bullying needs to happen at the school, in class, and at the individual level. As well, bullying can be prevented at home. At the school level there needs to be better supervision of the students’ activities, an attractive outdoor environment, contact phones for the students and the parents, and teacher groups. In the classroom there are many things teachers and students can do. They can make class rules against bullying and have activities that encourage well-being. In the classroom, frequent class councils, co-operative learning, and meetings between the teachers, parents, and students can help to prevent bullying. Teachers or other authorities can have serious discussions with the bully to reduce the amount of bullying that occurs. Any other individual can offer protection to the victim. The victim could simply change to a new class or school. At home, discussion groups can be formed for parents, bullies, and victims. Also, conversations and meeting can be held between the school personnel and the parents.
There are many other ways to reduce the risk of bullying. A physically attractive and stimulating school environment seems to reduce the risk of bullying. A school environment which has a lot of involvement from adults, many positive interests, and warmth, would have less bullying occur than non-attractive schools. Anti-bullying programs, such as parental awareness campaigns and interventions with the bullies and victims, are also effective.
Another way to prevent bullying is to stop the bully itself. There are three approaches to treating a bully. The first approach is the moralistic approach. It requires that the student conforms to the values of the school. The second approach, the legalistic approach, assumes a set of rules, which the bully is expected to be familiar with. The last approach implies listening and establishing two-way communication as an essential element in bringing about change, not only in the bully’s behavior, but also in the bully’s way of thinking and feeling. This is called the humanistic approach.
In conclusion, I think bullying is a very serious problem and I think it can be stopped altogether. I have learned many things about bullying, mostly about the prevention of bullying, and I can’t believe how easy it would be to stop bullying. I’ve been through bullying, both as a victim and a bully, and I think it’s very wrong and hurtful to bully others. I just hope that people everywhere can learn to be less tolerant towards bullying in general. I think it would be great to live in a world where people don’t have to worry about what is going to happen to them, but achieving this would take more than just me.