Research Paper: Bullying and Strategies for Prevention Nearly 30

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Bullying and Strategies for Prevention

Nearly 30% or approximately 5.7 million, of United States teenagers are estimated to have been involved in an incident of school related Bullying either as the target, the bully or both. A recent national survey of students in grades 6 through ten reveal that nearly 13% of students reported bullying other children, 11% reported being victimized by bullies and an additional 6% indicated that they have been both the perpetrator and victim of bullying (Nansel, Overpeck, Pilla, Ruan, Simons-Morton, & Scheidt, 2001). Estimates indicate that once every seven seconds, a child is the victim of bullying in a United States school. 9% of all males and 7% of all females' ages 12-18, according to a study completed in 2001

reported experiencing bullying during the previous six months.

Additionally, according to the 2003 National Center for Education Statistics report on school violence indicated significant increases in the percentage of students that were victims of bullying in 2001 as compared to 1999. While in recent years, crime has declined, bullying is one of the few school related issues that has shown continual increase in intensity and prevalence (Ericson, 2001). During the same time period studied, the percentage of students who reported an increase in bullying was shown in all ethnic and racial groups with the exception of Black students. Approximately 6% of Black students in both 1999 and 2001 indicated they had been bullied. Moreover, between 1999 and 2001, the percentage of students bullied increased from 5 to 9% for Whites, from 4 to 8% for Hispanic, and from 3 to 7% for other non-Hispanic students (NCES, 2003). Since the time of these studies, the national rates of prevalence and incident have increased continuously and significantly.

Bullying

In order to understand the implications, efficaciousness, perceptions, and pervasiveness of bullying, it is important to identify and define the characteristics of this phenomenon in an effort to recognize shortcomings in bullying prevention and social-emotional education as well as current support initiatives. There have been various definitions of bullying posited by many theorists and researchers with commonalities across incommensurable definitions underscored by four relatively consistent variables: diversity of manifestation, intentionality, repetition, and imbalance of power (Schoen & Schoen, 2010). According to Schoen and Schoen in their article, "Bullying and Harassment in the United States," bullying has a purposed intent to embarrass, harm and/or offend the victim; involves repeated acts of aggression toward the victim individual or group; an imbalance of status or power whether perceived or realized; and the type of aggression changes and can vacillate from direct to indirect toward the victim(s) (p. 68). Direct bullying consists of verbal and physical assaults inclusive of scorning, humiliating, threatening hitting, kicking, and punching; whereas indirect bullying includes acts of intimidation through exclusion or gesturing. The spreading of rumors, and insults via email and text messaging have also been added as indirect forms of bullying (Schoen & Schoen, 2010). Although cyberbullying is considered a relatively new component to bullying, bullying through multimedia formats have the potential to produce profound psychological damage (Beally & Alexeyex, 2008). In summary, "bullying consists of a series of repeated, intentional cruel incidents between the same children who are primarily in the same bully and victim roles" (Hoover & Stenhjem 2003, p. 2).

The pervasiveness of bullying has reportedly been realized on all academic levels according to recent studies of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACA, 2006; Schoen & Schoen, 2010) with verbal bullying demonstrated as a pervasive phenomenon in elementary, middle and high school, and incidents of physical bullying seen at greater proportions in middle school (Cohen & Cantor, 2003). Characteristics such as perceived helplessness, weakness and shyness have reportedly significantly correlated with victimization; however, the debate over risk and status of bullying persists (Khosropour & Walsh, 2001). In terms of rate with which incidents of bullying occur, researchers have identified rumors, exclusion, name-calling, racial slurs, material theft or damage, and physical aggression as the most frequent forms of bullying (Dixon, 2006). Researchers have noted gender differences as well in how bullying transpires and who enacts the offense. Olweus (2003) determined that girls were primarily bullied by both girls and boys, whereas boys were primarily victimized by other boys. Moreover, boys tend to be the recipients of more physical assault and aggression, while girls are primarily the victims of non-physical aggression. Overall, boys have been identified as the deliverer and object of bullying at a higher frequency than girls (Nansel et al., 2003).

Olweus (1993) posits that only physical weakness is consistently associated with those who are victimized; however, more recent empirical evidence suggests that 67% of children with special needs are bullied in mainstream settings as compared to their counterparts that are not physically handicapped (Beatty & Alexeyex, 2008). Nationally, bullying occurs across racial groups, socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as geographical locations (Nansel et al., 2003). According to Beatty and Alexeyex in their 2008 article, "The Problem of School Bullies: What the Research Tells Us," most often, victims are chosen from the chronological peer group of the bully, and researchers consider it reasonable that this selection process transpires in the manner in which it does, as it would follow that bullies target those with whom they have the most peer-to-peer interaction. Moreover, researchers suggest that bullying transpires most often in places with less supervision such as hallways, lavatories and lunchrooms, and tends to escalate on playgrounds and other informal settings. The emergences of victims in these settings are based on the profile of appearing more submissive or passive than others in the peer cohort (Olweus, 2003). The individuals who are targeted suggestedly present him or herself as more vulnerable to attack, exhibiting characteristics such as insecurity, unhappiness, and/or tendencies towards presenting as anxious, sensitive or withdrawn (Schoen & Schoen, 2010). According to Pepler and Craig, (1995), "victims of bullying tend to be victimized over time, entering a dangerous cycle of abuse" (p. 33).

Cyberbullying

Bullying is generally defined as the action of an aggressive child repeatedly victimizing a child less powerful with emotional and/or physical abuse (Olweus, 1993). Often bullying involves a larger or older child or children targeting their aggression toward a single child who they feel is incapable of adequately defending him or herself. Although many incidents of bullying go unreported, the most recent statistics on bullying indicate that acts of bullying occur once every seven minutes (Li, 2007). There is no specific age in which bullying begins or ends. Bullying has been found as early as preschool. During the early years, up until about the age of seven, researchers assert that the victim is often picked at random. However, as the bully ages, the victim(s) become much more specific and the acts of aggression and violence more deliberate. Moreover, empirical research indicates that bullying is not a phase of childhood that bullies grow out of; as often suggested by adults who have experienced this phenomenon in their own childhoods and considered a rite of passage. In a recent long-term study of more than 500 children at the University of Michigan, researchers determined that children who were seen as aggressive by their peers at the age of eight grew up to commit increasingly serious crimes as adults. Additionally, other scholarly research has indicated that as bullies move into adulthood, they also tend to abuse their children and spouses (Olweus, 1993).

Cyberbullying is generally defined as bullying that ours outside the traditional realm of face-to-face contact. Perpetrators of this kind of bullying tend to use technology as the medium by which verbal and visual threats and acts of aggression transpire. The National Crime Prevention Council defines cyberbullying as "use of the internet, cell phone or other devices to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person" (NCPC, 2008). Cyberbullying can be difficult and insidious to manage and/or prosecute. Researchers and other authorities have also found cyberbullying difficult to operationalize. Given the accelerated evolution and complexity of new technologies, classification is often rendered obsolete. The different uses of technological devices across cultures can affect cultural meaning as well as the frequency in which behaviors transpire (David-Ferdon & Hertz, 2007). Moreover, specific characteristics such as the anonymity of the acts and the public/private nature of the attacks must be calculated as part of the definition.

The Move from Traditional Bullying to Cyberbullying

Traditional bullying has been a longstanding area of concern in the school environment affecting nearly 30% of children in United States (Nansel, Overpeck, Pilla, et al., 2001). More traditional forms of bullying include social harm that happens over time toward another person judged to be less aggressing, with intentional verbal and/or physical harm. The transition has come; however, with children and adolescents' often unsupervised use of the Internet and phone text messaging for social communication, and as such, the phenomenon of cyberbullying has become increasingly more prevalent (Twyman, Conway, Taylor & Comeaux, 2010). Although results vary, recent empirical studies have indicated that an estimated 4% to 15%… [END OF PREVIEW]

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