I don’t know about you but here where I live, bullying behaviour in schools is fast becoming a daily activity. In addition to having a heavy load of school work to do, our students still have to cope with being bullied as well.
Is it the same in your neck of the woods (where you live)?
I thought we could look at the subject of bullying in schools to shed some more light on this subject.
Bulling is defined as the intentional, repeated hurtful words or acts or other behaviour committed by a child or children against another child or children (Nesser et al 2003:127).
It is also defined as the repeated oppression, either psychological or physical of a less powerful person by a more powerful person (Rigby 1996:15).
According to Nesser et al, the act of bullying can be characterised by six defining factors:
• Intent to harm, with the bully finding pleasure in taunting others
• Intensity and duration, in that bullying continues over a longer period of time
• Exercising of power over the victim because of the bully’s age, size, strength or gender
• Selection of victims who appear vulnerable owing to their apparent inability to defend themselves
• Lack of support experienced by the victim, causing underreporting of incidents of bullying
• Long-lasting consequences such as the victim withdrawing from school activities
There are different forms of bullying: physical, verbal, relational, emotional and/or sexual in nature. Let’s look at these individually.
Direct actions: hitting, kicking, pushing, punching, poking, strangling, suffocating, burning, poisoning, hair pulling, biting, stabbing and/or shoving.
Indirect actions: Encouraging someone else to commit the assault
Direct actions: persistent name-calling, insulting, teasing and gossiping. This is the most common form of bullying.
Indirect actions: persuading another student to insult someone, spreading malicious rumours
Direct actions: Threatening or when the child is deliberately excluded from group activities
Indirect actions: Excluding the victim from group activities
Direct actions: terrorising, defaming, humiliating, corrupting, blackmailing and ostracising
Indirect actions: Encouraging someone to terrorise or humiliate the victim
Sexual abuse:Direct actions: touching, penetrating, harassing, exhibitionism and sexual harassment
Indirect actions: telling jokes of a sexual nature, reference to sexual acts. Also: bra snapping and “pantsing” (pulling down the trousers of boys or pulling up girls dresses), “ratting” on other people, displaying or circulating pornography material, name calling (slut, whore, lag, lesbian), teasing a person about his/her sexual activities, wearing clothes with sexually offensive words, displaying affection (“making out”) on school premises, making suggestive comments about clothing.
According to Nesser et al 2003:128; Rigby 1996:72, the characteristics of the school bully are generally as follows:
• Bigger and physically stronger than the victim
• Lacks parental supervision
• Abuses alcohol and drugs
• Displays aggressive and impulsive behaviour
• Lacks sympathy for the victim
• Is self-involved, i.e. concerned only with his/her own needs and pleasure
• Refuses to accept responsibility for own actions
• Likes to dominate others
There are three common categories of bullies (Nesser et al 2003:129):
• Proactive bullies – more aggressive by nature and need no provocation to hurt or humiliate another person
• Reactive bullies – were previously victims themselves and retaliate by bullying other smaller and weaker people
• Proactive victims – provoke fights with other children. If challenged they are quick to cry or display exaggerated responses
So, having said all this, what can be done to prevent or reduce bullying at schools? You could try one or more of these strategies:
• Teachers, Administrators and students must understand what bullying means
• Different forms of bullying must be identified and described
• The extent of bullying must be determined by means of observations and questionnaires. This may enable the school to develop an anti-bullying policy
• An anti-bullying committee consisting of staff, parents and students must be established and it should plan awareness and prevention activities
• Anti-bullying activities should become part of the school curriculum
Are your children being bullied at school?
Do you know a child or children who are bullying others at school?
What are you doing or going to do about it?