Bullying in Schools: History, Causes, Solutions

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 5
Words: 1380
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: College

Bullying is a problem that anyone who went to a school had to encounter. It involves repeated and deliberate efforts to hurt, exclude or scare somebody. From its definition, bullying is a physical or verbal antagonism that includes imbalanced power between the bully and the bullied, and thus it leads to distress for the latter (Graham, 2016). Bullying can include hitting, pushing, calling names, or snatching and taking of an individual’s property without their agreement. Besides, Winnaar et al. (2018) assert that bullying can also be indirect, for instance, deliberately isolating somebody out of games, stretching gossip regarding a person, or communicating nasty messages to an individual. Moreover, bullying has been considered a mental health disorder as it is associated with causing distress and can also result in loneliness, stress, and depression. Bullying causes significant physical and emotional trauma for both sides and has to be dealt with by creating a no-bullying culture among students while providing incentives to discourage bullying.

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Bullying is a widespread phenomenon in the US education system. One of every five students is being bullied; Between 4-6% of bullying incidents actually get reported; boys bully (and are bullied) more often than girls (Menesini & Salmivalli, 2017). In a recent study by the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than one in three students between ages 13 and 15 are regularly bullied, and up to 20% of adolescents present behavioral and mental disorders that manifest before the age of 14 (UNICEF, 2018). Forty-five states employ anti-bullying legislation programs within their districts in which punishments are clearly stated as an effort to deter the act of bullying from ever happening. Society is saturated with media coverage when tragic events of teen suicide due to bullying, also known as bullycide, occur no matter how close or far from home. Bullying has been identified to have long-lasting mental problems on children and is considered harmful as child abuse. About 20% of the children who have experienced bullying in their life have some mental disorder in their later life stages. However, bullying was not always a social concern that it is today.

Bullying has a long history and has been institutionalized in many cultures and educational facilities. Bullying was viewed to build character; for example, reporting bullies made the victim “a snitch”; rituals and traditions of humiliating freshmen by senior students (Menesini & Salmivalli, 2017). There was a time when bullying was considered to be typical behavior and viewed by society as a normal part of growing up in children; however, the issue has gained a lot of attention in recent years, initiating efforts nationwide to rid society of bullying altogether. Besides being deeply engrained into different cultures, contemporary social issues amplify the frequency of bullying.

Causes of bullying include poor parenting, psychological issues in bullies, cultural acceptance, and lack of support mechanisms for victims. Children exposed to family violence become violent themselves; bullying is a coping mechanism for one’s feelings of inadequacy; culture supports bullying; lack of consequences encourages power abuse (Menesini & Salmivalli, 2017). Bullies often come from families that are not that functional, and they may have a lot of anger pent up inside of them. Also, they may be treated this way at home and take it on to school with them to do to others. Bullying has also been related to body image dissatisfaction. Most adolescents associate the differences in physical characteristics as the primary reason for psychological bullying. There is a psychological weakness among the bullying and bullied adolescents in terms of accepting their physical characteristics and dealing with the dissimilarities. The abundance of causes requires a multifactorial approach to address the problem. Bullying causes severe and long-lasting psychological and physical trauma for victims and bullies alike. Bullies are much more likely to become criminals; Victims receive psychological trauma; Bullying often results in violence (Graham, 2016). The abundance of causes requires a multifactorial approach to address the problem.

Besides that, there exist various causes of bullying, and there are times when a person is being a bully and may not realize what their own behavior is towards someone else. One of the causes of bullying is that the person doing the bullying may be feeling low about themselves. They may have low self-esteem, and they think the bullying is making them feel better by putting down another person. Another cause of bullying could be that the bully may also be bullied by another person. They may feel jealous of the person that they are bullying, and this is the way that they act out towards them. The person doing the bullying may be having troubles at home, and this is the way that they deal with it. They may be frustrated, and this is the way that they act out those feelings. They may be lacking in attention and are doing this in order to bring attention to themselves even though it is bad attention. Whatever the cause is of the bullying, it is not good. It is not good for the person who is being bullied and for the bullying person.

The proposed solution is to foster a no-bullying culture at the student level while offering severe consequences for bullying. Using peer pressure to facilitate better behavior; instill values in children; threats of consequences to keep potential perpetrators in line (Nickerson, 2019). Bullying occurs in the absence of adult supervision and appears to be of little use during the actual event itself. However, this may only be effective if there are safeguards in place to protect the victim from any backlash that may occur once the bully has been disciplined. It is important that all members of an environment understand that there is an expected “code of behavior” that should be followed, and adults need to illustrate these behaviors as positive role models. No-bullying culture should be promoted at the bottom level, thus avoiding the bureaucracy that swamps the existing mechanisms.

The proposed implementation of the solution will involve two steps. First step: Introduce no-bully culture in students from first grade. Intervention is one way to really help stop bullying from happening. These interventions can take place at home by the parents and other family members or even at school where it may be happening. When bullying is happening at school, one way to have an intervention in it all would be to have peer support. This helps in ways that the child that is being bullied can get the support that they need as well as others that may be watching someone get bullied. It affects both types and in many different ways. Educators who are educated on the subject and know how to act when it is happening are of great use. It needs to be brought to the attention of all who are involved because if there is nothing done about the bullying, then bullies know they can get away with it. This will lead to more problems. Bullying can happen in school all the way from elementary school up to college. It does not stop just because someone becomes an adult. By the school, having anti-bullying programs can have a great impact on how the students view bullying at their school.

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Bullying is a serious problem that damages children well into adulthood. This is because society tends to have perceived child bullying as a social norm that happens naturally. But the reality remains that bullying is an adverse behavior that has severe consequences for the victimized child and the bully. Research has associated child bullying with various psychological disorders among kids. Bullying is a subject that should be treated very seriously by adults and children of all ages. Nobody likes to be bullied, and it can have some very lasting effects on a person if they are. Even people who watch others being bullied can affect them in ways you would never think. The more information and awareness that can be put out in our society can help in the fight against bullying. Previous solutions were incremental, underfunded, and inefficient against bullying. The paper proposes solutions based on developing no-bullying cultures in schools, promoting “stand-up” culture, and encouraging adults to act as role models. In addition, multisectoral intervention programs involving the community, schools and health services should be evaluated.

References

Graham, S. (2016). Victims of bullying in schools. Theory into Practice, 55(2), 136-144.

Menesini, E., & Salmivalli, C. (2017). Bullying in schools: the state of knowledge and effective interventions. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 22(1), 240-253.

Nickerson, A. B. (2019). Preventing and intervening with bullying in schools: A framework for evidence-based practice. School Mental Health, 11(1), 15-28.

UNICEF (2018). Half of world’s teens experience peer violence in and around school. UNICEF Press Release. Web.

Winnaar, L., Arends, F., & Beku, U. (2018). Reducing bullying in schools by focusing on school climate and school socio-economic status. South African Journal of Education, 38(1), 1-15.