Bullying is defined as repeated abuse, physical or psychological of an individual who is less powerful less powerful by a more powerful individual, people or group (Olweus, 1995). It consists of three main types of abuse that are physical, verbal and emotional. Bullying in schools is a common and worldwide spread problem that can have critical and negative implications on the general school climate as well as on the right of students to study in a safe place without fear. Many people believe that bullying is part of life, happens in all schools and so it’s not an issue to worry about and that it lets individuals know what life is all about as it toughens them but in reality bullying is a detrimental problem that affects most school going children and teenagers physically, emotionally and socially.
Historically, the most momentous turning point of bullying happened in the mid-1970’s where a research professor of psychology Dan Olweus, conducted an intensive research on bullying among students. The efforts of Olweus greatly contributed to the fight against bullying in schools because it brought awareness of the issue to the larger public domain and also initiated other professionals within the field of psychology to conduct more research and vastly expand the meaning of bullying. The efforts of this professor of psychology have over the years made a big impact on bullying, school violence and helped bring safety back to schools (Hazelden Foundation, 2007).
Indeed, violence in schools has never ended. The consequences of bullying and school violence reached its highest peak when two teenage boys shot and killed some of their classmates after they were alleged to be victims of bullying. Consequently, in the year 1999, another school Columbine high school experienced one of the most tragic school shootings in the history of United States. This event caused a worldwide outrage and devastation as it uncovered the real truth behind bullying.
In response to these issues of bullying, the federal government went ahead to create and enact laws that in order to crack down on matters of bullying. Similar to the program developed by Olweus known as Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, lawmakers have implemented such programs as No Child Left Behind (Edmondson & Zeman, 2001) which is a program developed to help keep schools safe. In order to ensure safety in schools, the federal government linked the funding of schools to school safety laws. This gives schools no option no other option but to implement and adopt these laws for them to receive funding. Another commendable decision the government has adopted into lower violence in schools is to develop policies that support victims of bullying and hold bullies accountable to their actions.
In most instances, bullies always lack the guilt feeling and especially value the rewards they get from their behaviors such as gaining control over somebody or receiving attention. They have a difficult time acknowledging that others have a different vantage point. They have a lack of empathy towards their victims and always feel that their behavior is just. When for instance they are confronted by united group of peers who believe that what they are doing is unacceptable, the bullying power is diminished.
Law enforcers as well as other persons such as school personnel’s face a lot of challenges when it comes to addressing the issue of bullying in schools. One of the challenges includes job responsibilities and expectations. The law enforcement community and officers may have varying responsibilities when it comes to their jobs, missions as well as professional cultures with varying expectations in regards to the definition of bullying, what constitutes suitable response4s to bullying and the ways it can be prevented. Law enforcement officers and school personnel’s more often operate according to various rules. For instance, school officials have a set of school rules and codes to enforce while law enforcement officers must at all times uphold the law. Another challenge is a negative perception. In some cases, the communities in and around schools develop a negative perception towards law enforcement personnel’s and the roles they play in schools and in working towards addressing specific issues like bullying.
I concur with the authors Edmondson and Zeman, 2011 who have stated that violence prevention programs are one of the most effective ways in helping reduce bullying. This is true from the evidence gathered from the literature as well as evidence brought forward by schools that have adopted bully laws and combined individual responsibilities, intervention and education to build positive school climates. I agree with authors Jordan and Austin, 2012 who have highlighted that bullying has many detrimental side effects to its victims. From studies, many victims develop physical and mental health issues and depression which later lead to them missing school and dropping in their academic performances. I also concur with Nansel et al., 2001 who conducted a study on the bullying behaviors among the youth in US and concluded that must preventive intervention targeting bullying behaviors in the youth.
However, I disagree with Nansel et al., 2001 when they concluded that most bullies go up to be criminals by the time they attain age 24. In my opinion, there are many types of bullying with one of them being relational aggression. It is a lesser form of bullying where a teen will try to sabotage her fellow teen by sabotaging their social standings. This is mostly common in girls, and the goal is to increase one's social standing. Most youth outgrow bullying when they mature and so they grow up into responsible citizens. I also disagree with the assumption posted by Jordan and Austin, 2012 who assume that there are more bully boys than girls. Bullying is an all-around phenomenon where girls are as boys. This is especially true with cyberbullying that has shown to be more prevalent in girls as they hide behind the computers.
Studies had shown that only 15 percent of the victims bullied report to an adult when they experienced harassment. Most times, they remain quiet because of being embarrassed. In some instances, adults also unintentionally discourage reporting of cases of bullying by telling the victims to fight back or ignore the abuse. This can be damaging to the victim as it discounts their feelings. This situation can also put the bully or victim in greater physical danger. Individuals are urged to encourage victims of bullying to report abuse to a higher authority or a grown up. When an individual for instance a parent or school official is aware or has been informed of a possible bullying of a student, then he or she must take action and quickly act on the information given and give the appropriate solution.
In many cases, the legal system barely involves itself with school bullying. This is so because there are many instances of less serious bullying which are with and handled within the school involving the working together of teachers, pupils, and parents to develop effective strategies and solutions. However, there may be grievous circumstances where the case of bullying is beyond the school system, and this is where the legal system must come in. In such circumstances, the police must come in and investigate the serious reports and incidents of harassment and physical abuse. If convinced that an offense has been committed and the person responsible identified then, the case should be filed. Those involved in criminal justice should take up any case of harassment and bullying seriously. Investigations should be, and if evidence is sufficient, the case should be presented in court. If the person responsible is found guilty, strict penalties should be imposed. By doing this, there will be fewer occurrences of bullying as people will be afraid of the consequences.
Nansel, T. R., Overpeck, M., Pilla, R. S., Ruan, W. J., Simons-Morton, B., & Scheidt, P. (2001). Bullying behaviors among US youth: Prevalence and association with psychosocial adjustment. Jama, 285(16), 2094-2100.
Jordan, K., & Austin, J. (2012). A review of the literature on bullying in US schools and how a parent–educator partnership can be an effective way to handle bullying. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 21(4), 440-458.
Edmondson, L., & Dreuth Zeman, L. (2011). Making school bully laws matter. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 20(1), 33.
Olweus, D. 1995. “Bullying or peer abuse in school: Intervention and prevention”. In Psychology, law, and criminal justice: International developments in research and practice, Edited by: Davies, G., Lloyd-Bostock, S., McMurran, M. and Wilson, C. 248–263. Oxford, England: Walter De Gruyter.