School bullying is a distinct form of aggressive behaviour, usually involving a power imbalance. It can be physically, verbally and, more recently, electronically threatening, and can cause emotional, physical and psychological harm. Bullying in schools historically has been seen as a fundamental part of childhood. (Campbell, 2005 p68)
It was seen as a social, educational and racial issue that needed little research and attention, until in the 1970’s and 80’s researchers began pioneering studies into bullying in our schools. Rigby, 2007, p1) Bullying is now seen as a serious problem that begins in the classroom and often continues into the workplace. (Campbell, 2005 p68) There is now widespread support that schools should be involved in action to counter bullying amongst students. (Rigby, 2003 p1) Bullying in schools has become a health, legal and political issue as well as social, educational and racial. The main factors that trigger bullying behaviour are ethnicity, physical differences, sexual orientation, resistance to conform and high achievement.
Individuals bully to gain power and strength, gain popularity and reputation, hide feelings of fear and unhappiness or sometimes to gain happiness. (Boystown, 2009, p11-12) “Bullying is a destructive form of peer aggression. ” (Lodge, 2008 p3) Statistically it is believed one in six children experience bullying at least once a week and the most commonly reported form of bullying is verbal harassment. (Rigby, 1997 p3) 8. 3% of all counselling calls to Kids Helpline are about bullying, 77% of these are from children aged 10-14. (KHL, 2004) Children need to feel safe and supported in the school environment.
Bullying removes this, victims often showing an increase in absenteeism, lower academic results, and lower social achievement. This in turn can increase anxiety, depression, school failure and alcohol and illegal substance use. (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2009) Kim; Leventhal; Koh; Hubbard and Boyce (2006) concluded that “psychopathologic behaviour, including social problems, aggression and externalizing behavioural problems, is a consequence rather than a cause of bullying experiences” Bullies may experience depression, suicidal thoughts and are more likely to become violent as adults.
They are more likely to drop out of school, and have a higher chance of obtaining criminal convictions as adults. (Lodge, 2008 p1) Bullying in Schools can be racially motivated. Individuals can be singled out because of skin colour, language, ethnicity, or different cultures and religions. In 2008, 11% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children aged 4-14 years old reported their indigenous origin as the reason why they were bullied.
Bullying has also become a political issue, with the federal government commissioning enquiries into bullying and introducing the National Safe Schools framework in 2003, with a revision in 2011 adapting to the increase of cyberbullying. This framework is aimed at providing proactive and practical approaches to combat bullying in schools. (Minister for Education Julia Gillard, 2003, Minister for Education, Peter Garrett, 2011)
Bullying is found in all schools. (Rigby 1997 p9) The affects of bullying in schools are far reaching. Raising awareness and educating families about bully prevention strategies are crucial in reducing the numbers of bullying incidents in schools. Encouraging parents and students to develop good relationships, open communications and to recognise and address the bullying behaviour as early as possible can help decrease incidents.
January 9, 2018
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