Bullying is a persistent and intentional attempt to hurt and humiliate someone. It can be expressed in various forms such as teasing, dissemination of rumors, and physical abuse. Bullying often occurs in front of other individuals. Justification and rationalization for insulting and abusive behavior towards people include differences in human demeanor, experience, personality, origin, gender, body language, sexuality, reputation, race, appearance, strength, class, and religion.
Bullying causes pain, sorrow, and anxiety in schoolchildren and teenagers and influences their ability to enjoy various group activities. Offensive and violent behavior is accompanied by the threats of further abuse in case victims inform others about it. Similarly, schoolchildren and adolescents should know how to deal with various forms of abuse, so it is essential to teach them how to cope with bullying and report it when it takes place.
The Nature and Consequences of Bullying
Bullying is the use of force, coercion, and threats to startle, maltreat, and impose domination over other individuals in an aggressive manner. Abusive behavior has become commonplace, and it frequently occurs in modern society. It reflects the domination and imbalance of the social and physical power of bullies and their victims. Harassment, coercion, violence, and verbal threats are repeatedly directed towards the main target. Bullying usually results in loss of interest, decreased self-esteem, loneliness, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and clinical depression. Callahan (2011) mentions that being a bullying victim not only negatively affects a person’s life but also influences his/her health condition, sometimes leading to irreversible consequences such as headache, panic attacks, high blood pressure, loss of appetite and insomnia. Moreover, a bullying victim experiences debilitating anxiety, loss of confidence, and physical pain. It is distressing to witness humiliating behavior and harassment. Teenagers and schoolchildren believe that their excessive sensitivity to bullying behavior can eventually lead to low self-esteem.
Types of Bullying
There are numerous types of bullying, namely physical, verbal, covert, and cyberbullying. According to McGrath (2007), physical bullying includes pushing, pinching, kicking, and hitting potential victims while verbal is based on verbal abuses, teasing, insult, homophobic remarks, and intimidation. It is quite difficult to recognize covert bullying since it is usually carried out behind the back of the bullied person, causing humiliation and harming his/her social reputation. Covert bullying encompasses spreading untrue rumors, lying, demonstrating unacceptable physical and facial gestures, and menacing looks. It also includes unkind mimicking, obscene embarrassing jokes, encouraging other individuals to exclude a victim, thus, influencing social rejection.
Cyberbullying includes covert or overt offensive behavior using various digital technologies, smartphones, computers, social media, and websites. It can take place in public or in a private setting at any time. Only a bully and his/her potential victim are aware of the place and time. Cyberbullying includes abusive videos, images, nasty gossips, hurtful posts and emails, deliberate exclusion or imitation of other people online. Additionally, emotional bullying is well known as relational aggression that brings distress (McGrath, 2007). Aggressors attack their victims because of their emotions. Emotional bullying is common in relationships between schoolchildren, teenagers, and adults. Emotional bullying involves the dissemination of rumors, excluding individuals from particular activities, refusing to talk to somebody and making unexpected and unpleasant statements that may hurt one’s feelings.
Violence at Schools
Many experts, specialists, teachers, parents, and tutors describe schools as the safest place, where children can get knowledge and make friends with their peers. However, according to Maliki, Asagwara, and Ibu (2009), recent violent and abusive cases at schools have contributed to the perception that educational establishments cannot be considered safe anymore. Violence and unacceptable behavior at school significantly affect youth, their adaptation, socialization, and academic performance. When considering the impact of this issue on adjustment and mental health, it is important to remember that violence is a chronic bullying of adolescents and a serious assault that can lead to a homicide. Schoolchildren can be strongly affected if somebody threatens them, or if they are involved in or witness a physical fight resulting in injuries.
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Bullying experience can cause anxiety and fear in youth, affecting their perception of security and the ability to learn and acquire knowledge. In this instance, the very essence of what it means to go to the educational establishment is broken. School bullying is probably the most common type of abusive behavior. In the real world, it is verbal, emotional, and physical. In many cases, aggressors have several targets to bully, and they are physically bigger in comparison to their victims. Students and children, who witness violent, offensive and unacceptable behavior can avoid interference or taunt the victims, in order to avoid becoming the next target of the instigators (Maliki, Asagwara, & Ibu, 2009).
Numerous organizations have been established, and comprehensive legislation has been passed to protect individuals, including schoolchildren from different types of bullying. Generally, one should inform the authorities, tutors, families, friends, and teachers if he/she finds himself/herself in an abusive and violent situation. Timely notification will help to prevent repeat incidents in the future. Bullying among children at schools is quite an old phenomenon that continues to exist today. No one can be safe from it. Numerous literary works, studies, and researches have been dedicated to the issue of bullying, underscoring the fact that schoolchildren are frequently attacked and harassed by their peers.
Many adults have personally experienced it during their own school years. Human awareness of bullying and offensive behavior has recently increased. Dhar (2013) describes bullying as a multifaceted form of maltreatment that takes place in various social environments throughout the world. Intimidation as a subtle method of compulsion underlies bullying. The culture of bullying develops in any scope, in which human beings interact with each other including teachers, peers, neighbors, and family.
Because of the rising concerns and controversies, many U.S. states have passed anti-bullying laws that prohibit bullying behavior at schools and workplaces. Historically, violent and insulting behavior among youth and schoolchildren in the educational establishments has not been the topic of discussion that causes significant public interest. The majority of adults regard the experience of being bullied as a rite during the teenage years.
However, in the last years, attention to bullying among children at schools has drastically increased among mentors, society, communities, and policymakers. Recent researches have demonstrated that nearly 30 percent of the U.S. schoolchildren are directly involved in violent behavior within the semester (“Children who bully,” n. d.). The dramatic shootings that took place at several educational establishments in the late 1990s and numerous reports that youth feels threatened because of their peers’ bullying and aggression motivated the officials to develop necessary comprehensive laws that will properly address unacceptable behaviors among adolescents.
The Subjects of Bullying
Bullying affects individuals of all races, orientations, and ages in different ways. It highly influences people who bully, persons who are bullied, and human beings who witness aggressive behavior. Since offensive conduct has negative consequences including mental health issues, suicidal thoughts, or attempts to commit suicide, use of narcotic and psychoactive substances, and alcohol abuse, it is vital to talk to youth and determine whether offensive behavior such as bullying causes significant concerns. Schoolchildren can be outgoing and aggressive bullies, who manipulate those around them in a subtle and deceptive manner (Maliki, Asagwara, & Ibu, 2009).
For example, girls and boys anonymously spread nasty rumors in order to see what happens next. The majority of perpetrators have common features. They have no empathy towards people around and a sense of caring for others. These individuals are usually focused on themselves. Every bully likes to dominate, despite possessing poor skills and social judgment. Nowadays, most of them act in such a way because they were bullied in the past, or have a bullying family member. In reality, every juvenile perpetrator has various personality disorders, which function as an obstacle to recognizing feelings and emotions inherent to all human beings such as empathy, guilt, repentance, and compassion. Undoubtedly, bullies need professional help from social workers, psychologists, and mental health specialists.
When bullying is considered commonplace in schools, the whole environment is affected. Moreover, the schoolchildren experience side effects the most. In the course of time, they become disrespectful and insecure, and they are afraid to go to school. It can lead to serious problems in their behavior. It becomes difficult for every student to take advantage of education, and build a significant knowledge base. Schoolchildren believe that nobody will help them to resolve the bullying issue (McGrath, 2007). Many individuals, who have been bullied in the educational institutions, prefer not to go to colleges because of the fear that misconduct will continue. Throughout adulthood, they may also experience bullying at work, in a relationship or family.
The school environment continues to exert pressure on adolescents, encouraging them to keep calm and quiet, when they witness injustice and prejudice, in order to maintain a close friendship with their peers. Teens often feel isolated, when they publicly stand up for each other in the case of aggression and bullying behavior. Therefore, they try to ignore the situation and not to interfere. It is not easy for adolescents, who are bullied, to make friends since their peers will perceive and treat them negatively if the classmates frequently tease them.
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Effects of Bullying
Young people, who are bullied, are more likely to experience loss of interest in various activities, change of sleeping and eating habits, health and physical issues, depression, stress, sadness, and loneliness (Meyer, Dietrich, & Schwartz, 2008). Unfortunately, these challenges may continue to exist in adult life. In addition, teenagers, who are bullied, usually experience low academic performance since they are not interested in education. They miss classes and eventually drop out of colleges since bullying lowers their ability to gain knowledge and succeed in life.
Callahan (2011) mentions that being a target of bullies not only influences human lives, but also affects health producing panic attacks, loss of appetite, considerable blood pressure, insomnia, and headache. Moreover, every victim experiences various diseases leading to dire consequences, anxiety, and a loss of confidence. A witness of bullying behavior is more likely to experience clinical depression, consume drugs and alcohol.
Schoolchildren, who bully their peers, are often involved in violent and dangerous activities in their adulthood, as well as experience serious abuses. They may also get into a fight, destroy someone’s property and engage in early sexual activity. As adults, they can demonstrate aggression towards their children, parents, and partners, as well as have criminal convictions and traffic incidents.
Mass media, as well as social media, often associates bullying behavior with suicide. Though young people, who are bullied, are at risk of suicide, intimidation cannot be considered the main cause of insulting behavior. Numerous challenges contributing to the high risk of suicide encompass home issues, depression, and trauma history. Meyer, Dietrich, and Schwartz (2008) mention that particular groups are more prone to self-destruction, namely, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, Alaskan Native, Asian American, and American Indian young people. It is important to remember that the risk can increase if high school children and students do not get adequate moral support from parents, peers, teachers, and educational institutions. In reality, bullying can have terrible consequences and make the situation even worse, if society will stay indifferent.
Mercilessness is probably the most painful aspect of violent behavior. Individuals can witness deplorable scenes of name-calling and teasing every day. If the bullying continues to take place in schools and other places, youth can be put in a state of anxiety and fear. It will be difficult to overcome and deal with it alone. For adolescents, an ideal way finally to resolve the issue of bullying is to share their concerns with trusted adults, including parents and tutors (Meyer, Dietrich, & Schwartz, 2008). However, this approach highly depends on the situation. The Necessity to Report Bullying
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If bullying brings danger and causes physical harm, it is vital to inform about it immediately since the majority of schoolchildren have died because of unreported cases of stalking, violent attacks, and ongoing threats. In many situations, a victim of repeated bullying cannot control his/her emotions and thinks about revenge. The situation, in this case, becomes unsafe for everyone. Parents, teachers, and coaches, who have power and control, can help to find a perfect way to solve serious bullying issues, and eventually prevent them in the future.
If individuals are involved in the bullying situation that can lead to violence and negative consequences, it is important to ask for assistance and not to deal with it alone. If a person has friends and colleagues, who are the potential victims of bullying, it is necessary to spend time together doing favorite things. It is also vital to return home with a group of friends and classmates and stick close to peers during the bullying situation (McGrath, 2007).
Young people have to deal with their emotions in various life situations. The school environment should never encourage bullying behavior, and continue to work on radical changes that will help high school students. The school personnel should constantly observe stairwells and courtyards, where bullies disturb and harass students. Bullying often occurs in the presence of peers as violators want to demonstrate strength, feel the power, and gain recognition. Enlisting help and support of friends is a perfect way to eliminate aggressive and offensive culture in schools.
Developing an anti-violence program is another way to cope with bullying. If high schools or colleges have not initiated it yet, it is better to introduce one immediately. National Education Association (2014) points to the fact that healthcare specialists can help to manage bullying behavior by contributing to various community programs. Moreover, parents’ support and professional assistance enhance awareness of misconduct among teens and promote mutual respect in various spheres.
Bullying is a big challenge for millions of high school students despite their race and class. Some individuals regard it as an adequate behavior that reflects the transition to adulthood. However, it is not true. High school students and other young people will always be involved in conflicts and clashes. Bullying as a deliberate act is accompanied by emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. In addition, the offensive behavior has long-term and irreversible effects on self-esteem and confidence of adolescents and their ability to adapt to the outside world. Bullying occurs when adults, including parents and teachers, who are influential and stronger than young bullies, are not present.
In the case, if radical measures are rejected, violent behavior will set the tone for deliberate aggressive attitude towards others for a lifetime. It is necessary to share concerns and thoughts since the consequences of bullying can strongly affect the lives of victims in the future. It is important to act immediately and effectively in order to resolve the bullying issue and overcome challenges that occur in life.
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