For an act to be considered bullying it must meet certain criteria. This includes hostile intent, imbalance of power, repetition, distress, and provocation. Bullying can have a wide spectrum of effects on a student including anger, depression, stress, and suicide. Additionally, the bully can develop different social disorders or have a higher chance of engaging in criminal activity.
If there is suspicion that a child is being bullied or is a bully, there are warning signs in their behavior. There are many programs and organizations worldwide which provide bullying prevention services and information on how children can cope if they have been bullied.
It is widely agreed that bullying is a subcategory of aggressive behavior characterized by the following three minimum criteria:
hostile intent (i.e., the harm caused by bullying is deliberate, not accidental),
imbalance of power (i.e., bullying includes a real or perceived power inequity between the bully and the victim), and
repetition over a period of time (i.e., more than once with the potential to occur multiple times).
The following two additional criteria have been proposed to complement the above-mentioned criteria:
victim distress (victim suffers mild to severe psychological, social or physical trauma) and
provocation (bullying is motivated by perceived benefits of their aggressive behaviors).
Some of these characteristics have been disputed (e.g., for power imbalance: bullies and victims often report that conflicts occur between two equals); nevertheless, they remain widely established in the scientific literature.
The underlying causes of school violence and bullying include gender and social norms and wider contextual and structural factors.
Discriminatory gender norms that shape the dominance of men and the subservience of women and the perpetuation of these norms through violence are found in some form in many cultures. Gender inequality and the prevalence of violence against women in society exacerbate the problem. Similarly, social norms that support the authority of teachers over children may legitimise the use of violence to maintain discipline and control.
The pressure to conform to dominant gender norms is also high. Young people who cannot or who choose not to conform to these norms are often punished for this through violence and bullying at school.
Schools themselves can "teach" children to be violent through discriminatory practices, curricula and textbooks. If unchecked, gender discrimination and power imbalances in schools can encourage attitudes and practices that subjugate children, uphold unequal gender norms and tolerate violence, including corporal punishment.
Some attribute part of the cause of bullying to the atmosphere in which it occurs. Thornberg and Knutsen state in their study, "School attributing refers to attributing the cause of bullying to the school setting." They say that school attributing has two subcategories which are "boredom in school" and "poor antibullying practices". Boredom in school involves a student who does not have anything else to do other than bully. Poor antibullying practices may include teachers and staff not caring enough to intervene, or a school not having enough teachers for students. This may lead to the students feeling unwanted or unimportant due to the lack of care from the school's staff.
Schools and the education system also operate within the context of wider social and structural factors and may reflect and reproduce environments that do not protect children and adolescents from violence and bullying. For example, physical and sexual violence may be more prevalent in schools in contexts where it is also more prevalent in wider society. Studies suggest that sexual violence and harassment of girls is worse in schools where other forms of violence are prevalent, and in conflict and emergency contexts, and that gang violence is more common in schools where gangs, weapons and drugs are part of the local culture.
In their paper "Predicting Bullying: Exploring the Contributions of Childhood Negative Life Experiences in Predicting Adolescent Bullying Behavior," Connell, Morris and Piquero identify three primary aspects of a child's life- family, school and peers- as major indicators to whether or not that child exhibits behavior akin to bullying.
According to the paper which reviews the previous research on the causes of school bullying, following external factors and internal factors might bring about bullying. External factors include less relational mobility due to closed curriculum and environment, peer pressure, lack of bullying prohibition rules that every classmate shares, absence of supervisors, and so on. Internal factors include intolerance toward heterogeneity and minority, not to recognize that the other classmates have the norm that bullying is unacceptable, lack of cognitive and emotional empathy for those who might be bullied, not to regard aggressive behaviors as bullying, justification of bullying, not to expect that bullying will be found, and so on.
Bullying can threaten students' physical and emotional safety at school and can negatively impact their ability to learn. The best way to address bullying is to stop it before it starts. There are many different groups that can intervene to address bullying (and cyberbullying) in schools: parents, teachers, and school leadership. The most commonly used strategies by teachers to prevent it are to communicate, mediate and seek help. Training school staff and students to prevent and address bullying can help sustain bullying prevention efforts over time. There are no federal mandates for bullying curricula or staff training. In addition to addressing bullying before it occurs, a great prevention strategy is to educate the students on bullying.
Examples of activities to teach about bullying include:
Internet or library research, such as looking up types of bullying, how to prevent it, and how kids should respond
Presentations, such as a speech or role-play on stopping bullying
Discussions about topics like reporting bullying
Creative writing, such as a poem speaking out against bullying or a story or skit teaching bystanders how to help
Artistic works, such as a collage about respect or the effects of bullying
Classroom meetings to talk about peer relations
Multicomponent programs which have multiple practices to address the various internal and external factors of bullying and which involve all students and parents in each class are effective to prevent bullying. It is required that such programs are implemented at all schools in each country.
Anxiety, depression and psychosomatic symptoms are common among both bullies and their victims. Among these participants alcohol and substance abuse are commonly seen later in life. It is known that people suffering from depression feel much better when they talk to others about it, but victims of bullying fear may not talk to others about their feelings in fear of being bullied, which can worsen their depression.
In the short term, being a bystander "can produce feelings of anger, fear, guilt, and sadness.... Bystanders who witness repeated victimizations of peers can experience negative effects similar to the victimized children themselves."
Negative impact on educational quality and outcomes
The educational effects on victims of school violence and bullying are significant. Violence and bullying at the hands of teachers or other students may make children and adolescents afraid to go to school and interfere with their ability to concentrate in class or participate in school activities. It can also have similar effects on bystanders.
The consequences include missing classes, avoiding school activities, playing truant or dropping out of school altogether. This in turn has an adverse impact on academic achievement and attainment and on future education and employment prospects. Children and adolescents who are victims of violence may achieve lower grades and may be less likely to anticipate going on to higher education. Analyses of international learning assessments highlight the impact of bullying on learning outcomes. These analyses clearly show that bullying reduces students' achievement in key subjects, such as mathematics, and other studies have documented the negative impact of school violence and bullying on educational performance.
Bystanders and the school climate as a whole are also affected by school violence and bullying. Unsafe learning environments create a climate of fear and insecurity and a perception that teachers do not have control or do not care about the students, and this reduces the quality of education for all.
Social and economic costs
The 2006 UN World Report on Violence against Children shows that victims of corporal punishment, both at school and at home, may develop into adults who are passive and over-cautious or aggressive. Involvement in school bullying can be a predictor of future antisocial and criminal behaviour. Being bullied is also linked to a heightened risk of eating disorders and social and relationship difficulties.
Other studies have shown the longer-term effects of bullying at school. One study of all children born in England, Scotland and Wales during one week in 1958 analyzes data on 7,771 children who had been bullied at ages 7 and 11. At age 50, those who had been bullied as children were less likely to have obtained school qualifications and less likely to live with a spouse or partner or to have adequate social support. They also had lower scores on word memory tests designed to measure cognitive IQ even when their childhood intelligence levels were taken into account and, more often reported, that they had poor health. The effects of bullying were visible nearly four decades later, with health, social and economic consequences lasting well into adulthood. For children, "peers are a much more important influence than has been realised. It is a terrible thing to be excluded by your peers".
The economic impact of violence against children and adolescents is substantial. Youth violence in Brazil alone is estimated to cost nearly US$19 billion every year, of which US$943 million can be linked to violence in schools. The estimated cost to the economy in the USA of violence associated with schools is US$7.9 billion a year.
Analytic work supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) shows that school-related gender-based violence alone can be associated with the loss of one primary grade of schooling, which translates to an annual cost of around US$17 billion to low- and middle-income countries.
In the East Asia and Pacific region, it is estimated that the economic costs of just some of the health consequences of child maltreatment were equivalent to between 1.4% and 2.5% of the region's annual GDP.
In Argentina, the forgone benefit to society from overall early school dropout is 11.4% of GDP, and in Egypt, nearly 7% of potential earnings is lost as a result of the number of children dropping out of school.
A study has shown that each year Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria lose US$974 million, US$301 million and US$1,662 million respectively for failing to educate girls to the same standard as boys, and violence in school is one of the key factors contributing to the under-representation of girls in education.
According to the American Psychological Association, "40% to 80% of school-age children experience bullying at some point during their school careers." Various studies show that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and students with disabilities experience bullying more often than other students. The following statistics help illustrate the severity of bullying within classrooms:
Statistics show that 1 in 3 children are affected by bullying in their lifetime in the U.S. school system, and 30% report being involved in some manner.
A nationwide survey of bullying in first and second level schools conducted by Trinity College Dublin estimates that some 31% of primary and 16% of secondary students have been bullied at some time.
In a 1997 study of five Seattle high schools, students recorded their peers' hallway and classroom conversations. It was discovered that the average high school student hears about 25 anti-gay remarks a day.
In a study conducted across 32 Dutch elementary schools, 16.2% of the 2,766 participating children reported being bullied regularly (at least several times a month).
At least 1 in 3 adolescent students in Canada has reported being bullied.
47% of Canadian parents report having a child who is a victim of bullying.
Students who are homosexual, bisexual, or transgender are five times as likely to miss school because they feel unsafe after being bullied due to their sexual orientation.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of gay, lesbian, and bisexual students who did not go to school at least one day during the 30 days preceding the survey due to safety concerns ranged from 11% to 30% for gay and lesbian students and 12% to 25% for bisexual students.
61.1% of LGBT middle- or high-school students were more likely than their non-LGBT peers to feel unsafe or uncomfortable as a result of their sexual orientation.
In a Canadian study that surveyed 2,186 students across 33 middle and high schools, 49.5% reported being bullied online in the previous three months. 33.7% of the sample reported being the perpetrator of cyberbullying.
The most common form of cyberbullying involved receiving threatening or aggressive emails or instant messages, reported by 73% of victims.
In the United States, a 2013 nationwide survey indicated that 20% of high school students were bullied on school property in the past year, 15% of the students were bullied electronically, and 8% of students ages 12–18 reported ongoing bullying on a weekly basis.
Higher education students keep silent about the torment because they are expected to handle the issue as an adult, however it requires a support system.
According to the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science, victims of bullying are more likely to be sexually inactive compared to bullies.
Statistics referencing the prevalence of bullying in schools may be inaccurate and tend to fluctuate. In a U.S. study of 5,621 students ages 12–18, 64% of the students had experienced bullying and did not report it.
Proactive aggression is a behavior that expects a reward. With bullying each individual has a role to defend. Some children act proactively but will show aggression to defend themselves if provoked. These children will react aggressively but tend to never be the ones to attack first.
There have been two subtypes created in bully classification; popular aggressive and unpopular aggressive. Popular aggressive bullies are social and do not encounter a great deal of social stigma from their aggression. Unpopular aggressive bullies, however, are most often rejected by other students and use aggression to seek attention.
In a recent national survey 3,708,284 students reported being a perpetrator of bullying in the U.S. school system.
Studies have shown bullies actually report more success in making friends than other children.
Bullying behavior in perpatrators is shown to decrease with age.
Developmental research suggests bullies are often morally disengaged and use egocentric reasoning strategies.
Adolescents who experience violence or aggression in the home, or are influenced by negative peer relationships, are more likely to bully. This suggests that positive social relationships reduce the likelihood of bullying.
A total of 10.6% of the children replied that they had sometimes bullied other children, a response category defined as moderate bullying. An additional 8.8% said they had bullied others once a week or more, defined as frequent bullying. Similarly, 8.5% said they had been targets of moderate bullying, and 8.4% said they were bullied frequently. Out of all the students, 13% said they had engaged in moderate or frequent bullying of others, while 10.6% said they had been bullied either moderately or frequently. Some students — 6.3% — had both bullied others and been bullied themselves. In all, 29% of the students who responded to the survey had been involved in some aspect of bullying, either as a bully, as the target of bullying or both.
According to Tara Kuther, an associate professor of psychology at Western Connecticut State University, "...bullying gets so much more sophisticated and subtle in high school. It's more relational. It becomes more difficult for teens to know when to intervene; whereas with younger kids, bullying is more physical and, therefore, more clear-cut."
Types of bullying
There are four basic types of bullying: verbal, physical, psychological, and cyber. Cyberbullying is becoming one of the most common types. While victims can experience bullying at any age, it is witnessed most by school-aged children.
Direct bullying is a relatively open attack on a victim that is physical and/or verbal in nature. Indirect bullying is more subtle and harder to detect, but involves one or more forms of relational aggression, including social isolation via intentional exclusion, spreading rumors to defame one's character or reputation, making faces or obscene gestures behind someone's back, and manipulating friendships or other relationships.
Pack bullying is bullying undertaken by a group. The 2009 Wesley Report on bullying found that pack bullying was more prominent in high schools and lasted longer than bullying undertaken by individuals.
Cyberbullying is the quickest growing form of harassment of school campuses in the U.S. and 40% of adolescents report being a victim. Most definitions of cyberbullying come from definitions of school bullying. Thus, this conduct is often described as an intentional aggressive behavior that takes place via new technologies, during which groups or individuals hurt classmates who cannot easily defend themselves. Cyberbullying events can occur via cellphones or computers, by means of text messages, e-mails, online social networks, chatrooms or blogs. This form of bullying can easily go undetected because of the lack of parental or authoritative supervision. Because bullies can pose as someone else, it is the most anonymous form of bullying. Like the bullying that occurs in school, the following four profiles have been identified: cyberneutral, cyberbully, cybervictim and cyberbully-victim. Many who are bullied in school are likely to be bullied over the Internet and vice versa. Since students have become more reliant on internet, the advancement in social media and technology has altered the fear of in-person bullying away from schoolyards but has rather increase cyberbullying. Studies have shown almost half of cyberbullies are repeat offenders and harass others as few at three times. Males are more likely to be active cyberbullies than females. Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day and seven days a week and reach a child even when they are alone.
Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts or pictures is extremely difficult after being posted or sent.
According to the website Stop Cyberbullying, "When schools try and get involved by disciplining the student for cyberbullying actions that took place off campus and outside of school hours, they are often sued for exceeding their authority and violating the student's free speech right."  They suggest for schools to make revisions to their policies that would allow for disciplinary actions to take place even if off campus or after hours. They say if the act is likely to affect a student mentally or physically while in school then the revision of the policy would allow for the staff to intervene without violating the student's constitutional rights. Many principals are hesitant to act because school discipline codes and states laws do not define cyberbullying. According to professor Bernard James, "educators are empowered to maintain safe schools, the timidity of educators in this context of emerging technology is working in advantage of the bullies."
Cyberbullying has become extremely prevalent; 95% of teens who use social media reported having witnessed malicious behavior on social media from 2009 to 2013. As sites like Facebook or Twitter offer no routine monitoring, children from a young age must learn proper internet behavior, say Abraham Foxman and Cyndi Silverman. "This is a call for parents and educators to teach these modern skills... through awareness and advocacy." Per Scott Eidler, "Parents and educators need to make children aware at a young age of the life-changing effects cyberbullying can have on the victim. The next step for prevention is advocacy. For example, three high school students from Melville, New York organized a Bullying Awareness Walk, where several hundred people turned out to show their support."
Clara Wajngurt writes, "Other than organizing events, calling for social media sites to take charge could make the difference between life and death. Cyberbullying is making it increasingly difficult to enforce any form of prevention." Joanna Wojcik concludes, "The rapid growth of social media is aiding the spread of cyberbullying, and prevention policies are struggling to keep up. In order for prevention policies to be put in place, the definition of cyberbullying must be stated, others must be educated on how to recognize and prevent bullying, and policies that have already attempted to be enacted need to be reviewed and learned from."
Researcher Charisse Nixon found that students do not reach out for help with cyberbullying for four main reasons: they do not feel connected to the adults around them; the students do not see the cyberbullying as an issue that is worth bringing forward; they do not feel the surrounding adults have the ability to properly deal with the cyberbullying; and the teenagers have increased feelings of shame and humiliation regarding the cyberbullying. Nixon also found that when bystanders took action in helping end the cyberbullying in adolescents, the results were more positive than when the adolescents attempted to resolve the situation without outside help.
Sexual bullying is "any bullying behavior, whether physical or non-physical, that is based on a person's sexuality or gender. It is when sexuality or gender is used as a weapon by boys or girls towards other boys or girls—although it is more commonly directed at girls. It can be carried out to a person's face, behind their back or through the use of technology."
As part of its research into sexual bullying in schools, the BBC TV series Panorama commissioned a questionnaire aimed at people aged 11 to 19 in schools and youth clubs across five regions of England. The survey revealed that of the 273 respondents, 28 had been forced to do something sexual, and 31 had seen it happen to someone else. Of the 273 respondents, 40 had experienced unwanted touching. U.K. government figures show that in the 2007–2008 school year, there were 3,450 fixed-period exclusions and 120 expulsions from schools in England due to sexual misconduct. This included incidents such as groping and using sexually insulting language. From April 2008 to March 2009, ChildLine counselled a total of 156,729 children, 26,134 of whom spoke about bullying as a main concern and 300 of whom spoke specifically about sexual bullying.
The U.K. charity Beatbullying has claimed that as gang culture enters, children are being bullied into providing sexual favours in exchange for protection. However, other anti-bullying groups and teachers' unions, including the National Union of Teachers, challenged the charity to provide evidence of this.
Sexting cases are also on the rise and have become a major source of bullying. The circulation of explicit photos of those involved either around school or the internet put the originators in a position to be scorned and bullied. There have been reports of some cases in which the bullying has been so extensive that the victim has taken their life.
According to HealthDay News, 15 percent of college students claim to have been victims of bullying while at college. In the article, "Bullying not a thing of the past for college students," Kaitlyn Krasselt writes, "Bullying comes in all forms but is usually thought of as a K-12 issue that ceases to exist once students head off to college." The misconception that bullying does not occur in higher education began to receive attention after the death of college student Tyler Clementi. According to an experiment conducted by Dr. Gary R. Walz, "21.47% of participants reported rarely being victims of cyberbullying; 93.29% reported rarely cyberbullying others. Overall, there was a low prevalence rate for cyberbullying."
Bullying is usually associated with an imbalance of power. A bully has a perceived authority over another due to factors such as size, gender, or age. Boys tend to bully peers based on the peer's physical weakness, short temper, friend group, and clothing. Bullying among girls, on the other hand, results from factors such as facial appearance, emotional factors, being overweight, and academic status. Both sees, moreover, tend to target people with speech impediments of some sort (such as stuttering).
Bullies often come from families that use physical forms of discipline.
Bullying locations vary by context. Most bullying in elementary school happens in the playground. In middle school and high school, it occurs most in the hallways, which have little supervision. According to the U.S Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, more than 47% of kids reported getting bullied in hallways and stairway. Bus stops and bus rides to and from school tend to be hostile environments as well; children tend to view the driver as someone with no disciplinary authority.
Bullying may also follows people into adult life and university. Bullying can take over the lives of both lecturers and students, and can lead to supervisors putting pressure on students. Bullying can happen in any place at any time.
Victims of bullying typically are physically smaller, more sensitive, unhappy, cautious, anxious, quiet, and withdrawn. They are often described as passive or submissive. Possessing these qualities make these individuals vulnerable, as they are seen as being less likely to retaliate.
Signs that a child is being bullied include:
Bullying is a consequence of competition for grades and failure in school.
Bullying is a consequence of poor self-esteem and insecurity.
Bullying is just teasing.
Only boys are bullies.
Bullying is a normal part of growing up.
Bullies will go away if ignored.
The best way to deal with a bully is by fighting or trying to get even.
People who are bullied will only hurt for a while before recovering.
Bullying is thought of as a K-12 issue that ceases to exist once students enter college.
Studies have shown that bullying programs set up in schools with the help and engagements of staff and faculty have been shown to reduce peer victimization and bullying. Incidences of bullying are noticeably reduced when the students themselves disapprove of bullying.
Measures such as increasing awareness,[contradictory] instituting zero tolerance for fighting, or placing troubled students in the same group or classroom are actually ineffective in reducing bullying; methods that are effective include increasing empathy for victims; adopting a program that includes teachers, students, and parents; and having students lead anti-bullying efforts.[pages needed] Success is most associated with beginning interventions at an early age, constantly evaluating programs for effectiveness, and having some students simply take online classes to avoid bullies at school.
The victims of some school shootings have sued both the shooters' families and the schools. At one point only 23 states had Anti-Bullying laws. In 2015 Montana became the last state to have an anti-bullying law and at that point all 50 states had an anti-bullying law. These laws are not going to abolish bullying but it does bring attention to the behavior and it lets the aggressors know it will not be tolerated.
In 2016, a legal precedent was set by a mother and her son, after the son was bullied at his public school. The mother and son won a court case against the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, making this the first case in North America where a school board has been found negligent in a bullying case for failing to meet the standard of care (the "duty of care" that the school board owes to its students). A similar bullying case was won in Australia in 2013 (Oyston v. St. Patricks College).
The Ministry of Education launched a serial of project. In 2006, they started the 'anti-bully plan'. In 2008, they launched the 'prevent bully video from public project', and also building multiple informants route, monitoring the school, in hope that it could improve the education quality.
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