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- Munira Minaz Ali
This paper discovers the bullying behavior as a common feature and, a nightmare in schools and colleges throughout the world. It is a troublesome repetition in school that infringes on child’s wellbeing, dignity and, security. The physical, academic and, psychosocial consequences of bullying can never be underrated. Therefore this paper will give insight about the meaning, extent and, causes of bulling through various theories and literature. The characteristics of bullies & their victims and the effects of bullying on physical & psychological health were also discussed. Finally intervention strategies that involved school system, family and children can be implemented and evaluated for both bullies and their victims.
We do know that school age is a time in which a young child continues to shape up and undergo many physical and psychological developments. However during this time if the child development is disturbed by any violence and ferocity it can lead to long lasting physical, mental and emotional harm. Bullying is one of the common forms of violence that has a significant and long lasting effect. It is spacious area of interest due its negative psychological outcomes and academic performance of children. It is acknowledged as a serious problem which has an adverse effect on wellbeing of a child.This paper attempts to elucidate the causes of bullying with respect to different theories, characteristics of bully and victim, effects of bullying on victim and bully itself and at the end possible strategies would be discussed to control the act of bullying.
Catherine Rothon (2011) defines bullying as “Bullying is broadly defined as a desire to hurt and the execution of a harmful action; it is characterized by repetition and either a physical or a psychological power imbalance” (p.579). In the report of anti-bullying working group, (2013) Professor Olweus regarded bullying as negative behaviors that are done deliberately and repeatedly against individuals who has trouble defending themselves (p.16). James (2010) reported that on the survey of bullying around the world, the rate of victimization is 9% -32% and rate of bullying is 3% – 27%. In addition, the report of anti-bullying working group, (2013) reported the international comparison of 39 countries and showed percentage of bullied children as 39.2%. Moreover, boys are more likely to be involved in bullying and become target of physical aggression whereas girls are comparatively less involved in bullying and usually involved in spreading rumors and gossips (Moseley, 2011). This is also supported by (Boyle, 2005; James, 2010; Hanif, Nadeem & Tariq, 2011). In Pakistan there is no proper statistics available about bullying but the cases of bullying are escalating every year.
Bullying is characterized by a multi-factorial approach of causation. Moseley, (2011) highlighted that family life is one of the cause of bullying for instance, if authoritarian parents create a harsh and restricted environment, it can increase the chances of adopting negative behaviors. Adding to this, many children feel unloved therefore they use bullying as an opportunity to make them feel happy and stronger than victim. Besides, many children want to appear themselves dominant on others and, pretend to be tough. Gottfredson and Hirshi (1990) proposed low self-control theory as a cause of bullying. This theory elucidate that low self control is the main source of aggressive behaviors. Also, the child is insensitive to others and, likes to hunt for instant gratification (Darmawan, 2010). Another theory highlighted by Darmawan, (2010) is differential association theory which suggests that individuals associated with felonious peers or living in an offending environment are involved in unsociable behaviors and often attracted towards bullying. In regards to this, Darmawan (2010) referred social learning theory of bandura (1977) and, describe three conditions that increase the likelihood of child’s hostile behavior i.e. when the model is persuasive enough or he/she is rewarded on bad deeds rather than punishment and has comparable features with child. Furthermore, Robert Angrew (2001) proposed general strain theory which explains negatives feelings created by strain can put the child at risk of adopting delinquent behaviors and it’s a coping strategy to release their stress (Erikson, Nielsen & Simonsen, 2012). Many studies found that children who suffered from physical or emotional abuse, maltreatment and, rejection are usually involved in bullying (Espelage et al., 2000).
Most of the bullies resemble in their characteristics. Smokowski& Kelly, (2005) stressed that they are aggressive and likes to dominate themselves. Moreover, they tend to scare others because of their physical strength and disobedient attitude. Research suggests that their families
are often unfriendly and indifferent towards them (Smokowski & Kopasz, 2005). Additionally, Carla Bennett, (n.d.) and Brown & Patterson (2012) enlightened that they are energetic, impulsive and have high self-esteem. They use their violence to get what they want and Lack sense of empathy for their victims. They are bad-tempered and cannot tolerate frustration (Blazer, 2005; Smokowski &Kopasz, 2005). In contrast, victims address peer abuse, more quiet, anxious and sensitive. They lack communication skills, problem solving ability and are unconfident. (Smokowski & Kopasz, 2005).Likewise Bennett, (n.d.); Boyle (2005) identified that they are physically weak, lack interpersonal skills and, hesitate to go to school. Such children have over protective family and their Parents fail to teach conflict resolution skills (Bennett, (n.d.); Smokowski & Kopasz, 2005).
Psychologically bullying dispose devastating effects on child’s personality for both, victim and bully. This includes physical, academic, and psychosocial effects that have prodigious impact on individual’s life. Aluedeet al (n.d.) highlighted physical effect on victim that includes headaches, migraine, panic attacks, sweating, palpitation and frequent illness. Brown & Patterson (2012) and report on anti-bullying (2013) highlighted academic effects of bullying such as poor performance and, feeling reluctant in attending school. Studies suggest that such students fail to achieve excellence academically due to inability to concentrate (Darmawan, 2010; Adams &Lawrence, 2011). Besides, literature indicated that such children suffer from attention deficit disorder (Smokowski & Kopasz, 2005). Furthermore, according to Fekkeset al., (2014), the chances of developing psychosocial problems are relatively higher in victims as compare to non-victims. These individual faced great difficulty in building relationships and social adjustment. They are poor in making friends, group gathering and tends to remain alone most of the time due to the fear of getting hurt (Adams &Lawrence, 2011). In regards to this, they feel isolated and, have poor sense of belonging to groups and families. Adams &Lawrence, (2011) further elucidate that their insecurity has been compromised and, they go for safer and restricted areas. They usually experience estrangement and find difficulty to intermingle in a positive manner. Researchers found that these children more vulnerable to depression, anxiety disorder and in the extreme cases have suicidal ideations (Noret et al, 2009; Fekkes et al., 2014). Moreover, Smokowski & Kopasz, (2005) proposed that most of the victims are likely to have sense of inferiority complex, and consider them as failures. Likewise these children also experience misperception, rage and, low self-esteem (Boyle, 2005).
Apart from these effect, bullying possess long lasting distresses in later life of these young ones. When they reached adulthood, they encountered trouble in making personal relationships and adjustment in their marital life. Besides they may overreact on unimportant situations (Smokowski & Kopasz, 2005). Studies indicated that in adulthood, male victims may experience shyness with women and have complications in sexual relationships. Similarly they may take part in vengeance including murder and other criminal acts (Smokowski & Kopasz, 2005).
However bullying does not only distress victims but it also has undesirable consequences on bully itself. Bullying also cause academic and psychosocial effects on bullies. Studies suggest that bullies have negative consequences in later life if they are allowed to bullying without any interference (Boyle, 2005). Noret et al, (2009) concluded that bullies are pervasively involved in negative behaviors. Smokowski & Kopasz, (2005) highlighted that academically they achieve low grades in school and do not like school environment. They usually show low potential in employment settings in their later life. From social aspect James, (2010) elucidate that as these children grow older they develop undesirable social skills and involved in acts that are against societal norms. Additionally, they are usually involved in the acts that include vandalism, burglary and truancy (Boyle 2005; Blazer 2005). Longitudinal studies found that they are hostile and usually have few friends. They are poor in maintaining good relationships. From Psychological aspect Smokowski &Kopasz, (2005) highlighted that most of the bullies are involved in substance abuse and drug addiction. They are hyperactive and unable to control their aggression. Besides they have high self-esteem and usually fight with others to satisfy their own desires (Erikson, Nielsen & Simonsen, 2012; Boyle, 2005).
In regards to this, “emotional and developmental scars can persist into adolescence and beyond” (Mosley, 2011). Bullies also suffers from long lasting effects throughout their life. Patterson, (2012) regards bullying as a gateway toward the juvenile crime and criminal activities for bullies. Smokowski & Kopasz, (2005) further explains that adults who were bullies as children, they generally express violent behaviors towards their spouse and use severe physical punishment on their own kids. Moreover they are unsuccessful in their life and are unable to work in corporation with others. Smokowski & Kopasz, (2005) also suggested that they have increase tendency to develop mental disorders such as conduct disorder and depression in their later life.
Therefore certain steps are essential to control bullying. Many schools neglect the act of bullying and consider it as a part of child’s life. James, (2010) suggested that schools and collages should take strict measures against such acts. From my point of view this can be done by developing zero tolerance policy in schools. Cohen & Freiberg (2013) emphasized that school is a place of developing healthy and positive relationships therefore, I suggest that it is essential to improve school environment in such a way that it can support the weak students and prevent them to become a victim of bully. This can be done by giving professional training to staff members, limited entry & exits in schools and supports the children emotionally and academically both, the victim and bully. Besides, Seeley et al., (2011) emphasized that teachers should increase the supervision of students at school settings. I recommend that it can be done by monitoring attendance, calling parents when the student is absent and checking student’s activities. Moreover,in my opinion counseling should be done with both bully and victim. The bully should be counseled to control their bad conduct and victim should be counseled to strengthen them and solve their problems assertively. Moreover, blazer (2005) highlighted that many parents consider bulling as normal and it would make their children tough. Lawner & Terzian (2013) suggested that parental involvement is effective in dealing with bullying. Therefore, I advise that awareness should be given to parents, to understand the seriousness of this problem so that they can reinforce positive behavior and appropriate interpersonal interaction. Moreover, the attitude of bullies can be changed by cognitive restructuring that challenges the dysfunctional thoughts. From my point of view modeling, social skills training and role play can help to change these dysfunctional thoughts. Furthermore, I understand that through short moralizing stories and activities, student can be betrothed in the discussion related to bullying. This would help the bully in realizing their bad deed and attempts in changing their behaviors. On the other hand, this would make victims confident enough to respond assertively and to overcome their fears. Moreover, expressive art therapy needs to be made for such children. Those victims who cannot report bullying or disclose their victimization can express their feelings through writing, drawing and other activities and for bullies it’s a good way to ventilate their aggressive thoughts and feelings through drawings and writings. Other than that, I would suggest that there is a need to explore the prevalence of bullying in Pakistan due to unavailability of statistics to provide the baseline data for planning the interventions.
In conclusion, bullying is a pervasive behavior. It is a complex emotional and social trend that has significant negative consequences for all. It should be addressed properly and affords should be made at both, individual and system level. As it left psychological scars on child’s personality, its prevention is essential to safe child from suffering and emotional trauma. Therefore interventions should be done appropriately and its evaluations carry intense importance.
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