Bullying

Bullying

[bool-ee]

Bullying is the act of intentionally causing harm to others, through verbal harassment, physical assault, or other more subtle methods of coercion such as manipulation. Bullying can be defined in many different ways. Although the UK currently has no legal definition of bullying, some US states have laws against it. Bullying is usually done to coerce others by fear or threat.

Bullying in school and the workplace is also referred to as peer abuse.

In colloquial speech, bullying often describes a form of harassment perpetrated by an abuser who possesses more physical and/or social power and dominance than the victim. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a target. The harassment can be verbal, physical and/or emotional. Sometimes bullies will pick on people bigger or smaller than their size. Bullies hurt people verbally and physically. There are many reasons for that. One of them is because the bullies themselves have been the victim of bullying (e.g. a bullying child who is abused at home, or bullying adults who are abused by their colleagues).

Many programs have been started to prevent bullying at schools with promotional speakers. Bullying consists of two types - verbal and physical.

Norwegian researcher Dan Olweus defines bullying as when a person is "exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons." He defines negative action as "when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways."

Bullying can occur in any setting where human beings interact with each other. This includes school, church, the workplace, home and neighborhoods. It is even a common push factor in migration. Bullying can exist between social groups, social classes and even between countries (see Jingoism).

Definition

Bullying is an act of repeated aggressive behavior in order to intentionally hurt another person, physically or mentally. Bullying is characterized by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person (Besag, 1989). Behaviors may include name calling, verbal or written abuse, exclusion from activities, exclusion from social situations, physical abuse, or coercion (Carey, 2003; Whitted & Dupper, 2005). Bullies may behave this way to be perceived as popular or tough or to get attention. They may bully out of jealousy or be acting out because they themselves are bullied (Crothers & Levinson, 2004).

USA National Center for Education Statistics suggests that bullying can be broken into two categories: Direct bullying, and indirect bullying which is also known as social aggression.

Ross states that direct bullying involves a great deal of physical aggression such as shoving and poking, throwing things, slapping, choking, punching and kicking, beating, stabbing, pulling hair, scratching, biting, scraping and pinching.

He also suggests that social aggression or indirect bullying is characterized by threatening the victim into social isolation. This isolation is achieved through a wide variety of techniques, including spreading gossip, refusing to socialize with the victim, bullying other people who wish to socialize with the victim, and criticizing the victim's manner of dress and other socially-significant markers (including the victim's race, religion, disability, etc). Ross (1998) outlines other forms of indirect bullying which are more subtle and more likely to be verbal, such as name calling, the silent treatment, arguing others into submission, manipulation, gossip/ false gossip, lies, rumors/ false rumors, staring, giggling, laughing at the victim, saying certain words that trigger a reaction from a past event, and mocking. Children's charity Act Against Bullying was set up in 2003 to help children who were victims of this type of bullying by researching and publishing coping skills.

Effects

The effects of bullying can be serious and even fatal. Mona O’Moore Ph. D of the Anti-Bullying Centre, Trinity College Dublin, said, "There is a growing body of research which indicates that individuals, whether child or adult who are persistently subjected to abusive behavior are at risk of stress related illness which can sometimes lead to suicide".

Victims of bullying can suffer from long term emotional and behavioral problems. Bullying can cause loneliness, depression, anxiety, lead to low self-esteem and increased susceptibility to illness.

The National Conference of State Legislatures said:

"In 2002, a report released by the U.S. Secret Service concluded that bullying played a significant role in many school shootings and that efforts should be made to eliminate bullying behavior."

Characteristics of bullies

Research indicates that adults who bully have personalities that are authoritarian, combined with a strong need to control or dominate. It has also been suggested that a prejudicial view of subordinates can be particular a risk factor.

Further studies have shown that while envy and resentment may be motives for bullying, there is little evidence to suggest that bullies suffer from any deficit in self esteem (as this would make it difficult to bully). However, bullying can also be used as a tool to conceal and boost self esteem: by demeaning others, the abuser him/herself feels empowered.

Researchers have identified other risk factors such as quickness to anger and use of force, addiction to aggressive behaviors, mistaking others' actions as hostile, concern with preserving self image, and engaging in obsessive or rigid actions.

Bullying may also be "tradition" in settings where an age group or higher rank feels superior than lowerclassmen, such as in the Russian Army where conscripts in their second year of service typically bully and control first year conscripts.

It is often suggested that bullying behavior has its origin in childhood:

"If aggressive behaviour is not challenged in childhood, there is a danger that it may become habitual. Indeed, there is research evidence, to indicate that bullying during childhood puts children at risk of criminal behaviour and domestic violence in adulthood."

Bullying does not necessarily involve criminality or physical violence. For example, bullying often operates through psychological abuse or verbal abuse.

Bullying can often be associated with street gangs, especially at school.

History of bullying

High-level forms of violence such as assault and murder usually receive most media attention, but lower-level forms of violence such as bullying, has only in recent years started to be addressed by researchers, parents and guardians and authority figures (Whitted & Dupper, 2005).

It is only in recent years that bullying has been recognised and recorded as a separate and distinct offence, but there have been well documented cases that were recorded in a different context. The Fifth Volume of the Newgate Calendar contains at least one example where Eton Scholars George Alexander Wood and Alexander Wellesley Leith were charged, at Aylesbury Assizes, with killing and slaying the Hon. F. Ashley Cooper on February 28, 1825 in an incident that would now, surely be described as "lethal hazing. The Newgate calendar contains several other examples that, while not as distinct, could be considered indicative of situations of bullying.

Types of bullying

School bullying

In schools, bullying usually occurs in all areas of school. It can occur in nearly any part in or around the school building, though it more often occurs in PE, recess, hallways, bathrooms, on school buses and waiting for buses, classes that require group work and/or after school activities. Bullying in school sometimes consists of a group of students taking advantage of, or isolating one student in particular and gaining the loyalty of bystanders who want to avoid becoming the next victim. These bullies will taunt and tease their target before physically bullying the target. Targets of bullying in school are often pupils who are considered strange or different by their peers to begin with, making the situation harder for them to deal with. Some children bully because they have been isolated, and they have a deep need for belonging, but they do not possess the social skills to effectively keep friends (see social rejection). "When you're miserable, you need something more miserable than yourself." This may explain the negative actions towards others that bullies exhibit. However, just like with adults, there are also those who simply enjoy hurting other people.

Bullying can also be perpetrated by teachers and the school system itself: there is an inherent power differential in the system that can easily predispose to subtle or covert abuse, humiliation, or exclusion - even while maintaining overt commitments to anti-bullying policies.

School shootings receive an enormous amount of media attention. The children who perpetrate these shootings sometimes claim that they were victims of bullying and that they resorted to violence only after the school administration repeatedly failed to intervene. In many of these cases, the victims of the shooters sued both the shooters' families and the schools.

Some suggest these rare but horrific events have led schools to try harder to discourage bullying, with programs designed to teach students cooperation, as well as training peer moderators in intervention and dispute resolution techniques, as a form of peer support.

American victims and their families have legal recourse, such as suing a school or teacher for failure to adequately supervise, racial or gender discrimination, or other civil rights violations. Special education students who are victimized may sue a school or school board under the ADA or Section 504.

Workplace bullying

According to the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute workplace bullying is "repeated, health-harming mistreatment, verbal abuse, or conduct which is threatening, humiliating, intimidating, or sabotage that interferes with work or some combination of the three.". Statistics show that bullying is 3 times as prevalent as illegal discrimination and at least 1,600 times as prevalent as workplace violence. Statistics also show that while only one employee in every 10,000 becomes a victim of workplace violence, one in six experiences bullying at work. Bullying is a little more common than sexual harassment but not verbal abuse which occurs more than bullying.

Unlike the more physical form of schoolyard bullying, workplace bullying often takes place within the established rules and policies of the organization and society. Such actions are not necessarily illegal and may not even be against the firm's regulations; however, the damage to the targeted employee and to workplace morale is obvious.

Particularly when perpetrated by a group, workplace bullying is sometimes known as mobbing. It can also be known as "career assassination" in political circles.

Cyberbullying

According to Canadian educator Bill Belsey, it:

Bullies will even create blogs to intimidate victims worldwide.

Political bullying

Jingoism occurs when one country imposes its will on another. This is normally done with military force or threats. With threats, it is common to ensure that aid and grants will not be given to the smaller country or that the smaller country will not be allowed to join a trading organization. Often political corruptions, coup d'états, and kleptocracies are the solution and response to the countries being bullied.

Military bullying

In 2000, the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) defined bullying as: “...the use of physical strength or the abuse of authority to intimidate or victimize others, or to give unlawful punishments.” A review of a number of deaths by suicide at Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut by Nicholas Blake QC indicated that whilst a culture of bullying existed during the mid to late 1990s many of the issues were being addressed as a result of the Defence Training Review.

Some argue that this behaviour should be allowed because of a general academic consensus that "soldiering" is different from other occupations. Soldiers expected to risk their lives should, according to them, develop strength of body and spirit to accept bullying.

In some countries, ritual hazing among recruits has been tolerated and even lauded as a rite of passage that builds character and toughness; while in others, systematic bullying of lower-ranking, young or physically slight recruits may in fact be encouraged by military policy, either tacitly or overtly (see dedovschina). Also, the Russian army usually have older/more experienced candidates abusing - kicking or punching - less experienced soldiers..

Hazing

Hazing is an often ritualistic test which may constitute harassment, abuse or humiliation with requirements to perform meaningless tasks; sometimes as a way of initiation into a social group. The term can refer to either physical (sometimes violent) or mental (possibly degrading) practices. It is a subjective matter where to draw to line between 'normal' hazing (somewhat abusive) and a mere rite of passage (essentially bonding; proponents may argue they can coincide), and there is a gray area where exactly the other side passes over into sheer degrading, even harmful abuse that should not even be tolerated if accepted voluntarily (serious but avoidable accidents do still happen; even deliberate abuse with similar grave medical consequences occurs, in some traditions even rather often). Furthermore, as it must be a ritual initiation, a different social context may mean a same treatment is technically hazing for some, not for others, e.g. a line-crossing ceremony when passing the equator at sea is hazing for the sailor while the extended (generally voluntary, more playful) application to passengers is not.

Hazing has been reported in a variety of social contexts, including:

  • Sports teams
  • Academic fraternities and sororities (see fraternities and sororities)These practices are not limited to American schools. Swedish students undergo a similar bonding period, known as nollningen, in which all members of the entering class participate.
  • College and universities in general.
  • Associated groups, like fan clubs, school bands
  • Secret societies and even certain service clubs, or rather their local sections (such as some modern US Freemasons; not traditional masonic lodges)
  • Similarly various other competitive sports teams or clubs, even 'soft' and non-competitive ones (such as arts)
  • The armed forces — e.g., in the U.S., hard hazing practices from World War I boot camps were introduced into colleges. In Poland army hazing is called Polish fala "wave" adopted pre-World War I from non-Polish armies. In the Russian army (formerly the Red Army) hazing is called "Dedovshchina".
  • Police forces (often with a paramilitary tradition)
  • Rescue services, such as lifeguards (also drilled for operations in military style)
  • In workplaces
  • Inmate hazing is also common at confinement facilities around the world, including frequent reports of beatings and sexual assaults by fellow inmates.

Hazing is considered a felony in several US states, and anti-hazing legislation has been proposed in other states.

See also

References

External links

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