Who Gets Bullied and Its Effect on School Gender and Ethnic Group? Research Paper

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Bullying: Race, Gender, Age, And Effects

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Research Paper on Who Gets Bullied and Its Effect on School Gender and Ethnic Group? Assignment

The destructive ramifications of bullying behavior in schools has become an issue of national (and even worldwide) concern for the safety of students. The fact that there has been an increase in school shootings has also increased awareness, especially due to the belief that bullying may be a precursor to some of the more violent school crimes. Furthermore, bullying has been linked with negative consequences in adulthood as well (Olweus 1991; Perry, Kusel, & Perry, 1988; Tritt & Duncan, 1997). Duncan (1999) and Hoover, Oliver and Hazler (1992) have found that the bullying is more pervasive in schools in the United States than in any other nation. Bullying is, undoubtedly, a problem, but what causes bullying? Why are some children more likely to get bullied than others? Through numerous studies conducted, there is some information to suggest that children from minority groups experience more indirect bullying of a racist nature. There are also studies that suggest that sexual identity formation during adolescence plays a quite significant role in the bullying as well and can affect both genders equally. Duncan (2004) found that the sexual bullying of girls by other girls was based upon more of a social esteemed sexual identity (i.e., being popular) while young men who socio-sexual identity does not "conform to the dominant ideal of masculinity" also experience bullying of a sexual nature. What can then be hypothesized taking into account the information from various studies, and what will be attempted to be illustrated in this paper, is that children do hold negative beliefs about other ethnic groups and children who are different from them, in general, which, when it comes to bullying, can make children of another race, or children with disabilities, more vulnerable to bullying acts, even if indirectly. Research also point to the notion that girls are bullied, overall, more than boys, however both boys and girls can experience bullying, yet it is hypothesized that while girls may be the victims of sexually-based bullying because of their "attractiveness," boys who are less "macho" or are considered to be homosexual, may experience sexually-based bullying as well. Through a review of different studies, it will be suggested that bully victimization occurs because of some sort of perceived isolation (race, gender, socio-economic status, or gender) on the part of the student being bullied.

Definition of Bullying.

The definition of bullying has been conceptualized in a variety of ways (Cowie 1994). Still, Farrington (1993) has suggested, and there is general agreement among researchers, that bullying involves five basic elements: (i) it can take on several different forms which include, but are not limited to, the physical, verbal and psychological; (22) the purpose of bullying is to invoke fear, harm and/or distress a person; (iii) it involves either an actual or perceived imbalance of power; (iv) the victim does not provoke it; (v) it repeatedly happens over time (1993).

Arora and Thompson (1987) questioned secondary school students about what they thought bullying entailed. Most of the students though that bullying was repeated occurrences that repeatedly happened with the same individuals. It should be noted that while many researchers agree with Farrington's (1993) elements of bullying, teachers and students both seem to hold much broader definitions of what they think bullying when compared to researchers (especially among younger school-aged children) (Cowie & Jennifer 2008), which most likely has to do with the fact that teachers are consistently faced with problems related to bullying as well as is the case with some children. Cowie and Jennifer (2008) note that in a questionnaire survey of 225 teachers and 1,820 secondary school students, which was investigating the definitions of bullying, only 18% of teachers and 8% of students included repeated bullying behavior in their answers (2008). Moreover, only 25% of the teachers and 4% of the students included "intention to harm," while almost 3/4 of teacher "invoked the imbalance of power criterion in their definitions," only 40% of the students did so (2008). Interestingly enough, when it comes to these definitions of bullying, the definitions appear to change as the children get older (2008).

According to estimates, approximately 30% of children report being victims of bullying at some point in their school careers, and between 5% and 10% are victims on a regular basis (Newman, Holden & Delville 2004). Boys are more likely to bully than to be bullied (Arora & Thompson 1987), although there are changing definitions of bullying that now include more indirect aggression such as teasing and alienation (2004). A study in Italy involving middle schools showed that girls' experiences with bullying included more rumors, name-calling, ostracism, and teasing, while boys' experiences include more physical threats and harm, and rejection (2004). This is just to show that the definitions of bullying are no longer simply related to physical harm or threats but now include social ostracism and derogatory name-calling and rumor-spreading.

Social Class and Bullying.

There have been several studies that have shown that "unprovoked aggression is a correlate of rejected status -- children who are classified as being rejected on the basis of sociometric techniques tend to show significantly higher levels of this type of aggression with peers than any of the other status groups" (Cowie 1994).

Peskin, Torolero, and Markham (2006) studied the prevalence of bullying and victimization by gender, grade level, and race among a sample of low socioeconomic black and Hispanic students in grades 6 through 12 in a large urban school district in Texas. The levels of bullying and victimization were measured using certain behaviors. Students were categorized as bullies (7%), victims (12%), bully-victims (5%), or neither (76%), depending on the different experiences. Types of bullying such as spreading lies about others and ostracism were participated in by 4.5% to 9.4% of students (self-reported) (2006). Other types of victimization like being physically harmed ranged from approximately 6% to 12% (2006). There were not gender differences observed for this study pertaining to general bullying and victimization, however, physical and certain types of verbal bullying were more common among males than females (2006). It was found that black students were more likely to take part in bullying and victimization and these occurrences seemed to peak around the 9th grade for them (2006).

The relationship between a child's involvement in bullying and social-economic status of their parents has offered mixed results (Rigby 2002). There is some evidence from studies (like Peskin et al.'s 2006 above) that suggest that social class does make children more or less prone to participating in bullying behaviors. In a study conducted by Mellor (1999; Rigby 2002), the researcher found that children of parents who worked in 'professional' jobs were less likely to be victims of bullying while those who had parents who worked in more 'laborious' jobs were more likely to be victims of bullying -- and were also more likely to be bullies themselves. However, in other studies done around the world, in places like Spain, France and Sweden, the results have been incredibly mixed, which leads one to the conclusion that there are many "cross-national differences in the psychological characteristics of members of higher and lower socio-economic status groups" (2002).

When looking at bullying and its relationship to social class, Rigby (2002) notes that it is important to differentiate between the ways that bullying is expressed. There has been research that has focused on the physical expression of aggression and has made the claim that this kind of bullying is more common in children who come from families that are considered to be of low socio-economic status (Rigby 2002).

According to Dodge, Pettit and Bates (1994; Rigby 2002) in the United States physical aggression on the part of children arises as a result of harsh discipline, lack of maternal warmth, exposure to aggressive adult models, maternal aggressive values, family life stressors, mother's lack of social support, peer group instability, and lack of cognitive stimulation. All of these, they suggest, are more common in families of low socio-economic status (Rigby 2002).

A study conducted in Australia in 2001 of school-aged children in seven different schools that were dramatically different in socio-economic class offered evidence that showed that students in the school with the lowest social status had the highest level of physical types of bullying (Rigby & Bagshaw 2001: Rigby 2002).

Race and Bullying.

There is a significant amount of information to suggest that children from ethnic minority groups experience bullying of a racist nature (Cowie & Jennifer 2008). One example of this can be illustrated in a study conducted in London that investigated black and white 11-year-olds' perspective on teasing and fighting in their middle schools. Of the 175 students participating, significantly more black students than white students reported that they had been teased because of their skin color (Mooney et al. 1991; Cowie & Jennifer 2008). In another study by Moran et al. (1993; Cowie & Jennifer 2008), the specific role of ethnicity in the experiences of bullying was examined.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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