Multiple Chapters: Increase in High School Female Bullying and Relational Aggression

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Relational Bullying

Contextual Information

The study will take place at a public high school in Florida. The proposed site has a faculty of 184 teachers and six administrators. The faculty is highly qualified and over 90% of the faculty have attained a Master's Degree or higher. Students are from a variety of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Bullying in schools has become a significant concern of students, parents, teachers, and government officials and has been said to be responsible for a number of suicides and other tragedies involving high school students who were the victims of bullying (U.S. Department of Education, 1999). Bullying is defined as repeated verbal, physical, or psychological actions directed against a person(s) who cannot or will not defend themselves against them (U.S. Department of Education, 1999). Depending on the study anywhere from 10-20% of U.S. high school students claim that they have been bullied by their peers (Nansel et al., 2001; Wang, Iannotti, & Nansel, 2009).

Relational bullying. Relational bullying occurs when the bully victimizes a person by ostracizing them or damaging their peer relationships (Dukes, Stein, & Zane, 2010). This type of bullying is more prevalent among females than males; however, it occurs among both genders. In addition, peer relationships are extremely important in adolescence (Brown, 2004) and the damaging effects of relational bullying can be as severe as other types of bullying.

The consequences of bullying. Victims of bullying may develop psychiatric disorders, problems will self-esteem, and poor motivation to engage in academic endeavors resulting in decreased grades, rises in absenteeism, and poorer social development (Klomek et al., 2007). Approaches to decreasing bullying often involve increasing the social skills of the victims or having victims and bullies work together towards joint goals (Swearer, Espelage, Vaillancourt, & Hymel, 2010).

Marital arts training. There are many anecdotal stories expressing the opinion that martial arts training is an effective intervention for the victims of all types of bullying; however, the empirical research examining this relationship is lacking. Martial arts training has been linked with reduced violent behaviors in children and adolescents and greater self-esteem (e.g., Burt & butler, 2011). Martial arts training may be an effective intervention that can help victims of relational bullying overcome being the victims of others.

About the Researcher

The main researcher for this project currently serves as a high school educator in the metropolitan area in the southern part of the United States. The school district that the researcher is employed in serves a multiplicity of ethnic populations who come from all levels of socioeconomic statuses. The researcher also serves as an active participant on an anti-crime committee that is focused on reducing negative behaviors of youth and teenagers who attend both public and private schools. The researcher also serves as mentor for several community programs for troubled teenagers and as an advisor for a program that serves females between the ages of 10-18 years old. This program provides leadership training, tutoring, and life skill training to help to develop these individuals into productive active citizens.

Working with young female clients has exposed the researcher to the effects of relational bullying and the researcher has witnessed the pain and anguish that these victims are exposed to as a result of being bullied. The researcher has developed a keen interest in discovering ways to counteract the effects of bullying in high school students. The current research is an effort to determine if a specific intervention cannot only reduce victimization of relational bullying but also help the victims of relational bullying develop better self-esteem so that they are less likely to become victims of bullying in the future.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to determine if martial arts training can reduce the incidence of victimization by relational bullying and female high school students, increase the victim's self-esteem, and decrease depressive symptoms.

Definitions of Major Concepts

Martial arts training in this study will be defined as learning the Korean martial art to tae kwon do. Relational bullying will be determined by the self-report of the female participants in the study and will conform to Dukes et al. (2010) descriptions of the types of activities that qualify as relational bullying.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Definition of Bullying

According to Smith and Brain (2000) there are two components of bullying: the repetition of harmful or potentially harmful actions and a power imbalance between the bully and victim. Bullying involves repeated verbal, physical, or psychological actions (physical attacks or intimidation) directed against a person who cannot or will not defend themselves against them. In most instances of bullying the victim is lesser in stature or strength than the bully or is outnumbered (U.S. Department of Education, 1999). Acts of bullying can include assaults, intimidation, tripping, demands for money, theft the possessions, property destruction, spreading rumors, name-calling, and other behaviors. In the United States several specific behaviors in school are also recognized as types of bullying and these include (U.S. Department of Education, 1999):

1. Sexual harassment which can include anything from unwanted sexual physical contact (sexual abuse), sexual propositioning, exhibitionism, and even voyeurism.

2. Ostracizing someone based on their sexual orientation.

3. Hazing.

Not every instance of physical aggression, teasing, fighting, and so forth fits the formal definition of bullying. For example, two individuals in school who either tease one another back and forth or even physically fight with one another but are proximately of the same physical or psychological strength would not constitute an instance of bullying according to the strict definition. Bullying occurs when the perpetrator (bully) is more powerful than the victim. This can be expressed in a number of ways including physical, psychological, or as stated above in number. This is a key aspect in the definition of what constitutes bullying and what constitutes "normal" instances of fighting and conflict among students. As mentioned above instances of bullying typically also involve repetitive acts.

Prevalence of Bullying

Studies in countries outside the United States that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s reported that between eight and 38% of students in schools are bullied with some regularity (e.g., Olweus, Limber, & Mahalic, 1999; Perry, Kusel, & Perry, 1988). In addition, the same studies reported that between five and nine percent of students may regularly bully other students. Students that are chronic victims, defined as being bullied once a week or more than once a week, were found to be between eight and twenty percent of the student population. Studies looking at the prevalence of bullying in U.S. schools were limited during this period; however, there was an increase in the studies in the U.S. In the late 1990s and beyond. For example, Nansel et al. (2001) found that over 10% of a represented a sample of over 15,000 students reported being the victims of bullying in school. Younger students and male students were more likely to be bullied than older students and female students. Wang et al. (2009) report data on a large sample of students (over 7000 student participants) to determine prevalence rates. Data from the study indicated that over 20% reported being bullied physically, over 53% reported being bullied verbally, over 51% reported being bullied socially, and over 13% of the sample reported being bullied electronically in the two months previous to the study. Again, males reported that they were more likely to be bullied than female students; however, male students were more likely to be bullied physically, whereas female students were more likely to be the victims of relational bullying. This last finding has been replicated elsewhere despite a mild decline in students reported being the victims of bullying (Shetgiri, Lin, & Flores, 2013).

Relational Bullying

Females are more likely to be the targets of relational bullying although both males and females can be victims of this type of bullying (Wang et al., 2009). Crick and Grotpeter (1995) defined relational bullying as a hidden type of aggression where the bully attacks the victim by means of a targeted manipulation with the intent of damaging of the victim's relationships with their peers. Relationships with peers are vitally important for children; however, peer relationships become even more important during adolescence because the young person begins to identify less with significant caregivers and more with individuals that share their physical, chronological, and social attributes (Brown, 2004). Peer relationships become increasingly important for the psychological development of adolescents and many models of development consider them especially important for healthy psychological development and adjustment (Brown, 2004). Because of the shared importance of peer relationships between adolescence types of bullying targeted at disrupting or damaging and adolescence relationship with their peers can be particularly painful and can incur longer-lasting psychological disruption for the victim (Klomek et al., 2007). Relational bullying can occur by means of several different methods (Dukes et al., 2010; Wang et al., 2009):

1. Excluding the victim from the peer group. In this form of bullying the bully(s) make sure that the victim is aware that they are not welcome to associate… [END OF PREVIEW]

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