Some important facts about violence in schools are stated to be that first, that 1/3 of all injury death that occurs in the United States are due to intentional school violence. Interestingly, as violence has risen quite sharply in society it has also rise in schools and in areas surrounding and related to school. During the school years from September 1992 through May 2000 the National School Safety Center in their Report on School Associated Violence" (Education World, nd) Unhealthy relationships in the family and school personnel's' exposure to 'violent television, films as well as games containing some of the elements that seem to contribute to violence in-school behavior.
Bullying can take place both directly and indirectly. Bullying is defined as the repeated exposure to negative actions on the part of a student or even on the part of a group of students toward another individual. Stated as being inclusive in this behavior are the factors of aggressive behavior, intentional harm doing, it is done on a repetitious basis and occurs in a relationship on an interpersonal level "characterized by an imbalance of power." (Colorado.edu Website, nd)
The definition proposed by Tattum and Tattum (1992) states that "Bullying is the willful, conscious desire to hurt another and put him/her under stress? Therefore, the individual that desires to hurt another individual is a bully. But, those who are not in actuality bullies are those that think better of committing such actions. Bullying may be physical or it may occur on a psychological level. It is suggested by Olweus that an "imbalance of power" exists when bullying occurs and in fact contributes to the occurrence.
As stated bullying behavior may be 'direct' bullying or 'indirect' bullying. Direct bullying is an open attack on the individual. Inclusive are physical attacks such as hitting, kicking, pushing, and choking. Attacking someone verbally or through harassment such as calling of names, threatening behavior, taunting behavior, teasing in a cruel and malicious manner, spreading rumors and slandering are all inclusive. Indirect bullying is often difficult to detect much more so than direct bullying. Indirect bullying is characterized by social isolation and social exclusion on an intentional basis, making faces and obscene gestures as well as manipulation of friendships and relationships.
III. Common Myths Surrounding Bullying
Myth 1: Insecurity and low self-esteem is suffered by bullies and they in turn pick on others towards the end of making themselves feel more secure.
Fact: Self-esteem among bullies are average to above-average however they do have temperaments that are aggressive as well as a 'lack of empathy and poor parenting.' (Starr, 2000)
Myth 2: Bullies are looking for attention however; ignoring the bully will stop the behavior.
Fact: control is what the bully seeks and they tend to cease their bullying when ignored however if adults do not address the issue of bullying the bully generally is propelled toward another level of bullying.
Myth 3: Boys will act like boys. However bullies general remain bullies and eventually get involved in a life of crime.
Fact: Of all those finishing middle school that are bullies sixty percent will have committed at least one crime by the age of 24.
Fact: Outgrowing bullying does not actually occur but it is redirected by the individual doing the bullying. 60 percent of bullies will have committed a crime by the age of 24.
Myth 5: Standing up for themselves is something that needs to be learned by victims of bullies.
Fact: Bullies generally pick those who are younger or weaker to bully and those who don't have the skills on a social level for the development of friendships that are important and are unable to effectively deal with social situations on their own.
Fact: Victims are generally chosen to be bullied due to their being "sensitive, anxious, and not likely or unable to retaliate, not due to differences on a physical level. (Starr, 2000)
Myth 6: The environment in large classrooms and large schools are conducive to bullying.
Fact: There has been no established link between the size of the educational facility and instances of bullying. In fact there is some research that contains findings that there is less and not more bullying in larger schools.
Myth 7: The largest part of bullying occurs somewhere other than school grounds.
Fact: Most bullying occurs on school grounds.
Myth 8: Only a small number of students are affected by bullying.
Fact: In the U.S. 25% of students are victims of bullying and 20% are bullies. It has been estimated by the National Association of School Psychologists that 160,000 children don't attend school each and every day to avoid being bullied.
Myth 9: If bullying is a problem in the classroom the teacher is aware of it.
Fact: Reports by the victims of bullying instances are done only reluctantly out of fear of being retaliated against, due to embarrassment and because most bullies tend to justify their behavior.
Myth 10: Sticks and stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you is an adage that should be followed by victims of bullying.
Fact: Problems that affect students for life are low self-esteem and depression as well as suicide and mental health issues.
IV. Preventative Measures in Counteracting Bullying in School
Four basic principles for prevention of bullying and victim problems are stated as follows:
"Awareness and warm, positive involvement of adults inclusive of teachers, principals, school counselors, and parents." (Safe Schools Fact Sheet, Colorado.edu)
Set and stick to firm limits as to what behavior is unacceptable firmly stating that bullying is not allowed or acceptable in the school.
Consistent application of "non-hostile, nonphysical negative consequences for rule violation and unacceptable behavior; and
"Encourage adults to act as authorities and position role models in students' academic learning and social relationships in school." (Safe Schools Fact Sheet, Colorado.edu)
The Results and Outcomes of Bullying Behavior and Victims
It is clearly without question that the victims of bullies have lifelong problems and issues that result from being bullied. Stated long-term effects on victims are that depression exists as well as low self-esteem. Clinical implications are stated to be a "risk factor for poor psychological health" (Rigby, 2003). The risk is stated to be greater if the "bullying is severe and prolonged and if the victim lacks adequate social support." (Rigby, 2003) Further stated by Rigby (2003) is that "Various strategies or treatments may be considered to reduce the changes of a child' further involvement in bullying that may worsen the condition.
These include assisting victimized children to develop self-protective assertiveness skills and working therapeutically with bullying children to establish a greater awareness of the consequence of their antisocial behavior." Other findings are that victims of bullying behavior have higher rates of absenteeism than those who do not experience bullying at school. Long-term adjustment is also affected by being bullied at school as well as the victim of bullies developing an aversion to the environment of school. (Rigby, 2003)
In Factsheet Number 18 entitled, "The Emotional Cost of Bullying" it is stated that bullying can affect the physical and mental health of a child in a serious way. Children who are bullied "lack confidence, feel bad about themselves, have few friends and spend playtime alone. They may find it hard to face going to school and difficult to concentrate on their work. They may complain of various physical symptoms as a result of their upset.
They may worry and try to avoid going to school. Others become very anxious, find it hard to sleep and may feel depressed, or even suicidal. These problems can carry on long after the bullying has stopped." (Factsheet #18, Mental Health & Growing Up)A large-scale study conducted in England and Wales found that children who suffer from being bullied are more likely to wet the bed and to not sleep well along with feeling irritable, nervous, and panicky after being bullied.
Recurring memories of the incidences were stated by 32% of victims in the study and 29% of the victims found concentrating hard for them to do Interestingly the bullies also have long-term effects as well. Stated is that students who bully are also likely to engage in antisocial and delinquent behaviors such as vandalism, shoplifting, drug use, and truancy. This is particularly true of boys that bully. Bullies are also more likely (4 times more likely) to be convicted of crimes by the age of 24. Finally physical bullying is considered to be a risk factor on a moderate level for serious violence acts between the ages of 15 to age 25.