What Are the Short and Long-Term Consequences of Bullying and Victimization? Thesis

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¶ … Bullying and Victimization

Violence in the nation's schools is certainly not a new phenomenon, but the impact of Bullying and its effects on the victims involved has received an increasing amount of attention in recent years following a number of high-profile incidents involving outright multiple murders. To determine the short- and long-term consequences of bullying and victimization in the nation's schools today, this paper provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature, followed by a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Thesis on What Are the Short and Long-Term Consequences of Bullying and Victimization? Assignment

By any measure, bullying is a growing concern in America's schools. According to Peskin, Tortolero and Markham, "Bullying represents a form of aggression and can be classified as either direct or indirect. Direct or overt bullying is defined as both verbal (e.g., name-calling, teasing) and physical (e.g., hitting) incidents; and indirect or relational bullying includes spreading rumors and excluding others from activities" (p. 467). The precise incidence of bullying in the nation's schools, though, remains difficult to determine because definitions and measures used across studies differ dramatically; nevertheless, research from several large-scale studies in midwestern and southeastern U.S. schools indicates that bullying behaviors are common (Espelage & Swearer, 2003). A growing number of researchers suggest that bullying and victimization must be examined in terms of its individual, family, peer, school, and community contexts (Espelage & Swearer, 2004). In this regard, Espelage and Swearer note that, "Bullying and victimization are ecological phenomena that are established and perpetuated over time as the result of the complex interplay between inter- and intra-individual variables. In order to develop and implement effective bullying prevention and intervention programs, we must understand the social ecology that establishes and maintains bullying and victimization behaviors" (2004, p. 1). Although the concept that a number of environmental factors influence bullying and victimization behaviors is not new, the growing body of research into these areas has reinforced the need to examine these violent behaviors from a socio-ecological perspective in order to better understand what compels some young people to aggressively persecute their peers today (Espelage & Swearer, 2004). To this end, a review of recent empirical research concerning bullying and victimization in general and in American schools in particular is provided below.

Review of Empirical Research. In their timely study, "Bullying and Victimization among Black and Hispanic Adolescents," Peskin and her colleagues (2006) report that, "Researchers began to study bullying and victimization just over 30 years ago. Recent studies have linked victimization to school-related homicidal acts by students" (p. 467). These authors also report that the impact of bullying on the victims involved can be profound, and include mental (i.e., depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety) and physical (e.g., headaches, sleeping problems) health problems (Peskin et al.). Interestingly, these researchers also note that these adverse impacts are associated with both bullying as well as victimization (Peskin et al.). These researchers surveyed students in eight predominantly black and Hispanic secondary schools (five middle schools and three high schools) in a large urban school district in Texas to determine the prevalence of bullying and victimization. Based on their analysis, Peskin and her associates determined that bullying and victimization are prevalent among urban, low socioeconomic, black and Hispanic middle and high school youth. According to these authors, "In this sample, approximately 7% were bullies, 12% were victims, and 5% were bully-victims. The present study revealed a lack of gender variation for general bullying behaviors; however, males were more likely than females to report some specific bullying behaviors (teasing and harassment)" (Peskin et al., p. 468). The male respondents in the study were found to be more likely to have reported being physically victimized and to report being ridiculed by others; in addition, the African-American respondents were determined to exhibit bullying and victimization behaviors more frequently than their peers, with such behaviors peaking around grade nine (Peskin et al.). The researchers conclude that their findings demonstrate a clear need to formulate more effective interventions in order to reduce the prevalence of bullying and victimization among urban racial/ethnic minority youth (Peskin et al.). These researchers also determined that although interventions designed to reduce the incidence of physical bullying should be aimed at male students in particular, other initiatives should be geared toward reducing other types of bullying among all students. Furthermore, the researchers emphasize the need to introduce these interventions as early as possible, preferably in middle school, because the incidence of bullying behaviors appears to peak as young people begin attendance at high school. Beyond the foregoing, the results of this study found that although physical abuse was prevalent, other bullying behaviors such as teasing and name-calling were most prevalent. Consequently, Peskin and her colleagues recommend that initiatives designed to reduce these types of behaviors may represent the best starting point for future interventions. Finally, Peskin and her associates conclude that, "Researchers, as well as parents, teachers, community members, politicians, and health care providers, should continue to acknowledge the serious nature of bullying and victimization among minority youth and begin to develop methods to combat these issues" (p. 468).

The results of a recent study by Holt, Finkelhor and Kantor (2007) confirmed the adverse health-related consequences for both victim and perpetrator. These researchers studied 689 fifth-grade students from 22 elementary schools in one school district located in a large northeastern city that were divided almost exactly into male and females, and reflecting the multicultural aspects of the larger population in this metropolitan region of about 100,000 citizens. Using the nine-item University of Illinois Bully Scale, the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire, and 21 items from the Anxious/Depressed and Withdrawn/Depressed scales from the Youth Self-Report, Holt and her colleagues found that young people who reported bullying behaviors were themselves frequently the victims of bullying by others, as well has having experienced physical and sexual abuse in the home; in fact, almost a third (32.1%) reported being sexually abused (Holt et al.). A significant percentage (43%) of the respondents also reported being bullied and/or victimized outside of the school environment in the community. Although the respondents were from just one school district, and the study's findings were not generalize to all fifth-graders in the United States, the authors suggest that these results emphasize the need for more proactive intervention programs and recommend more thorough investigations of the types of bullying behaviors being experienced at their own schools (Holt et al.).

Finally, another recent study by Bradshaw, Sawyer and O'Brennan (2007) involved a large-scale school-based study of bullying to determine the discrepancy between staff and student perceptions of bullying behavior and attitudes toward intervention and retaliation. This study was more ambitious than the foregoing studies, with data being collected from 15,185 students (Grades 4-12) and from 1,547 school staff members (e.g., teachers, school psychologists, guidance counselors) at 75 elementary, 20 middle, and 14 high schools in a large Maryland public school district that included urban (58%), suburban (28%), and rural (15%) schools (Bradshaw et al.). Both student and educator respondents completed Web-based surveys that ensured their anonymity. These researchers determined that almost half (49%) of the students surveyed reported having been bullied by other students at school at least once during the past month, and about a third (30.8%) of the students reported bullying others during that time (Bradshaw et al.). More than two-thirds of the student respondents (70.6%) reported having witnessed bullying behaviors within the last month, and an almost identical percentage of faculty (70.4%) reported having witnessed such bullying behaviors during the same time period (Bradshaw et al.). One of the more disturbing findings of this study was that a significant percentage of students (more than 10%) reported joining in bullying others when they witnessed such behaviors at school (Bradshaw et al.).

Impact of Research Findings of Author's Role as an Educator. Students and faculty members alike should be able to expect to go to their schools and enjoy a learning environment that is free of violence and intimidating behaviors. Unfortunately, personal observations and experience in the past confirm that bullying behaviors appear to be an inherent part of the maturation process for some young people, but it remains unclear what compels some students to engage in these behaviors while others from virtually identical backgrounds do not. One of the more salient issues that emerged from the research was the need for more proactive interventions on the part of faculty, administrators and parents alike, and it is in this arena that the author's future role as a more effective educator became apparent.

Expected Results of Review. The research was absolutely consistent in showing that there is nothing good that comes from bullying and victimization, and the implications of these behaviors are negative for both the perpetrators as well as their victims. Although these findings were expected, the actual extent of the problem that was found was truly alarming and it is clear that more needs to be done to reduce the prevalence of bullying behaviors in the nation's schools today.

Personal Reaction to Research. Although not entirely unexpected, the results of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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