psychology

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Bullying in Australian Schools

Introduction

Bullying is described as an intentional, constant behavior which tends to cause anguish to another individual. It is stated a misuse of power and may occur physically, verbally or indirectly. It has been discovered that approach of education and awareness programs alone does not have a permanent impact on this issue (Findley, 2006). This paper therefore aims to define bullying and provide the educational issue concerning it. It will also discuss the reasons for bullying, the treatment for bullying and effects of bullying on the bullies and the victims.

The educational issue concerning bullying in Australia

Rigby (2007) investigates bullying in Australia where he discovers that significant emphasis has been provided by the federal education department which was active in developing the National Safe Schools Framework in 2003. The development of this program included an active alliance of the state and non-state Australian educational authorities. It was created by Student Learning and Support Services Task Force also in 2003 to mainly focus on the issue of bullying in schools.

Zins, Elias and Maher (2007) make an observation whereby they find out that bullying can lead to the victims missing school, getting poor grades, suffering from depression, experiencing low self-esteem and committing suicide.

Cowie, H. & Jennifer, D. (2007). Managing violence in schools: a whole-school approach to best practice. London: SAGE.

Cowie and Jennifer (2007) reflect on successful restorative practices that aim at reducing the violence in Australian schools. Trials of conferencing were carried out and there were positive responses to this approach. The victims now felt safer while the bullies felt cared for and were therefore willing to make a clean start. The outcome of the trial showed an 80 percent decrease in offending by the perpetrators. They observe that a similar method in the United Kingdom is successful as presented with strong evidence by the Restorative Justice in Schools Programme whose main aim was to handle exclusions, truancy, fighting and other types of rebellious behavior. It was observed that there were significant improvements in the students’ behavior as a result of the adoption of the restorative justice.

Denmark, F. (2005).Violence in schools: cross-national and cross-cultural perspectives. New York: Springer.

Denmark (2005) provides insight on anti-bullying programs such as “Healthy Relationships” whereby the use of health, legal and educational specialists is essential in helping children and adolescents to acquire skills of learning on how to deal with the problem of bullying. Other programs that used are the “Peer support groups” and “Cross-age tutoring” which are aimed at helping students connect with each other. However, the program that is used in numerous Australian schools is the one entitled “Building Better Buddies” which is usually centered on changing the mind-sets of bystanders and the traditions of the school.

Denmark also recognizes a program that is being run in pre-schools, elementary schools and junior secondary schools in Victoria and is based on the Resilience Promotion model. It consists of: I HAVE which focuses on the external supports; I AM which centers on the internal strengths while I CAN is meant to deal with interpersonal and problem solving skills. These three are aimed at promoting resilience in school so as overcome the problem of bullying.

According to Denmark, bullies are also likely to be affected by the bullying they carry out. The consequences are revealed to be a 25 percent chance of performing juvenile and adult offences. Furthermore, it is also stated that the victims abuse alcohol and other types of drugs in order to sedate themselves from experiencing threats of brutality at school. They also tend to fake sickness as way of preventing the possibility of bullying.

Findley, I. (2006). Shared Responsibility: Beating Bullying in Australian Schools. Victoria: Aust Council for Ed Research.

According to an observation made by Findley (2006), some students often take part in a competition to accumulate power. The main aim is to gain attention and social position. Therefore, these bullies search for the vulnerable students who are weak and unable to protect themselves.

Jacobsen, K.E & Bauman, S. (2007). Bullying in Schools: School Counselors’ Responses to Three Types of Bullying Incidents. Professional School Counseling. 11 (1), 1+

Jacobsen and Bauman (2007) acknowledge the role of school counselors who work with the whole school population and are capable of identifying the basic school environment concerns like bullying and are thus considered to have a unique responsibility. Additionally, they are skilled in attending to the social concerns and to design, employ and assess programs and use of their expertise in interpersonal communication skills.

Jacobsen and Bauman provide about some of the effects of bullying on the victims. They discover notice that the victims suffer from health difficulties such as the reduced levels of psychological welfare, deprived adjustment to social life and some physical symptoms. Consequently, these effects may result in the deprivation of the student’s ability to learn and succeed at school.

Jimerson, S.R. & Furlong, M.J. (2006). The handbook of school violence and school safety: from research to practice. New York: Routledge.

Jimerson and Furlong (2006) assert that victimized children exhibit signs of low self esteem, severe depression and even become suicidal. Later in adult life, they portray and inability to trust other people and seem to lack confidence when meeting with people. Some are discovered to retaliate and even kill their oppressors when the chance to do so arises.

Pepler, D. (2008). Understanding and Addressing Bullying: An International Perspective Prevnet Series. Pepler, D. & Craig, W. (Eds). Indiana: House.

Pepler (2008) discovers that the relationship between a student and a teacher can have a significant influence on bullying. This association between the two can either solve or prevent this problem. Upon further observation, she finds that strong, positive connections between school children and teachers compose a defending factor that leads to a reduction in the risk of aggression from bullies as compared to the relationship between the bully and the teacher which displays little or no mutual warmth and negative feelings are generated.

Pepler further points out that the curbing bullying may be best achieved by enhancing support for the perpetrators rather than penalizing them and isolating them. This can be done through problem solving conversations between the teacher and the children involved in bullying. Therefore the conversations will reveal the strengths that the perpetrators present in the resolution process and any recent achievements that make the possibility of being peaceful members of the school community known.

Pepler relates the lack of paying attention in class, rejection and low popularity among classmates to being bullied. She however discovers that this situation did not portray low achievement in school. She speculates the possibility of achieving highly may come about as a technique of escaping victimization by the bullies in school

Rigby, K. (2007). Bullying in schools: and what to do about it. Victoria: Aust Council for Ed Research.

Rigby (2007) acknowledges that bullying may occur due to ignorance and denial by the school administration. He illustrates an example of principals who deny that there is bullying in the school. This can therefore be an opportunity for the bullies to take advantage of the freedom available and cause distress for their victims

Rigby also discovers that bullying also occurs due physical imbalance between the bully and the victim of bullying. The bullies become aware of their physical advantage over the weaker student and enjoy the opportunity. Bullying is usually depicted by victims through drawings where the bully is shown to have a bigger body than the ones who suffer under him.

Rigby advises that the parent should not go on a one- person crusade to oppose bullying as the outcome would be that the bully would be isolated and disregarded in some cases. Therefore the best approach is to inconspicuously inquire what some of the teachers think about bullying in the school and single out those who are willing to take a fresh approach towards bullying and figure out how best to work with them. Consequently, considerations can be formed from this association on how the school community can become inspired to handle the problem.

.Rigby researches and finds that there is a possibility of generational continuity whereby the children of the victims of bullying are also more likely to become victims more than their peers. He also deduces that men who were victimized by bullies when they were children were shyer when it came to the subject of love. Therefore their love lives were less successful because the level of intimacy with the opposite sex was low. He further finds out from an Australian poet that bullying caused destructive results in men and women’s sexual life.

Rigby also eventually states that some of the victims of bullying don’t hold back and become victims for the rest of their lives but they are motivated to help other people who are going through the same ordeal to fight bullying as a social injustice.

Contrary to the belief that the victims of bullying become victims later in life, Rigby also finds out later that the victims may also turn out to become the bullies. This situation occurs when the child is bullied at home or at school and cannot seem to retaliate. Therefore, he turns to another child who is weaker and tends to victimize him. This behavior may also continue later in life. All is discovered from studies of violence at home.

Shariff, S. (2008). Cyber-bullying: issues and solutions for the school, the classroom and the home. New York: Routledge.

According to Shariff (2008) even technology has been used in bullying. She discovers that in Australia ‘cyber-bullying’ as it has been coined, has been carried out 11 percent of student bullies while 14 percent of students had been victims of this type of bullying. This type has been done through text messaging, chat rooms and then by emails. It is further implied that the bullies have assumed technology to be so sophisticated that they can do anything with it. Shariff reveals that a group of school boys had filmed themselves forcing a girl to perform acts of sex while urinating on her. The weakness that this girl had was that she had a mild mental disability.

Vernberg, E.M. & Biggs, B.K. (2010). Preventing and Treating Bullying and Victimization. New York: Oxford University Press US.

Vernberg and Biggs (2010) discover that the family environment plays a big role in the process of a child becoming a bully. Therefore it is a possibility that the parents of the child may be bullies who either tease him all the time thus this behavior may generate a behavior that he adopts and preys on weaker children in school.

Vernberg and Biggs suggest that an increased attention should be paid towards the interpersonal relationship troubles girls who become bullies face plus training their social skills since they participate in a relational form of bullying. On the other hand, the approach to lessening of bullying by boys is the reduction of hurtful and physical actions as training them other responses to physical violence. The involvement of the parents when working with these children is encouraged.

Vernberg and Biggs study the effects of bullying on children with mental and learning disabilities. They find these children are likely to display worsened results than a normal child. This is due to the fact that they lack sufficient skills for coping with stress and therefore when the strain of bullying is added the outcome is disastrous.

Zins, J.E., Elias, M.J. & Maher, C.A. (2007). Bullying, victimization, and peer harassment: a handbook of prevention and intervention. New York: Routledge.

Zins, Elias and Maher (2007) find that the tradition may be a contributing factor to the issue of bullying. Their investigation reveals that bullying has traditionally been ignored and considered as a type of normal behavior that occurs as one is growing up. Most of the time the victims of bullying are normally blamed and taken to be the ones who welcomed the bullying. They also later discover that numerous personal, academic, interpersonal and schools related factors have contributed the victimization of peers in schools.

Conclusion

In Australia, several programs have been launched in order to tackle the issue of bullying in schools. The problem of bullying is common in the country and therefore the National Safe Schools Framework was formed in 2003.

Bullying has been portrayed to affect the schoolwork of the victims whereby they get poor grades, suffer from depression and even commit suicide. However, it has been speculated that low grades do not necessarily have to be attained since it may indicate that the victims get high grades because they direct all their attention to books as a technique of escaping the bullying they are experiencing in school.

Several suggestions as well as solutions have been presented in order to tackle the problem of bullying. Some of these have been restorative practices through conferencing whereby bullies feel cared for and therefore regret their mistakes and aim to become better people in society while the victims feel safer because the problem is being addressed.


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