Bullying entails the use of aggression or threats and force to impose power over other individuals. Bullying happens in the society constantly and it assumes diverse forms. A bully is an individual who uses force or coercion to intimidate his or her peers or members of a group (Dosani, 2008). Bullying takes place in schools and other forums that present a chance for interactions. It occurs mostly in groups where members are between ages seven and twenty. This paper aims to highlight the events in the US, which led to legal decisions about bullying in schools. The paper will highlight the psychological concepts of bullying and the challenges that individuals and the authorities face regarding the issue. The paper will also make recommendations on ways which individuals who undergo bullying can be helped. Finally, the paper will suggest and highlight ways in which the authorities can handle cases of bullying in schools.
There are various significant events in the United States regarding bullying. In 1976, Professor Dan Olweus created a bullying prevention program after studying bullying in schools. The program, Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, achieved its purpose as the cases of bullying significantly reduced. The program is credited with raising awareness about bullying and being the pioneer program in the researching the psychological effects of bullying. In 1999, two boys in their teenage raided a high school in Columbia and shot at their classmates. In this incident, many teenagers were killed (Dosani, 2008). These boys were victims of bullying who turned their frustrations and anger to their fellow schoolmates. The government initiated a program in 2001. No Child Left Behind is meant to discourage bullying and ensure the safety of school going children. The program not only assures that schools are safe places for children but also assures that children will acquire quality education from schools.
Social cognition is a psychological concept related with bullying. According to the concept, controlled and automatic human processes are different. Bullying is a controlled process because the bully uses force as they seek to prove domination over their peers. A bully can control the force they use on their peers to show domination (Dosani, 2008). Threats and abuse are also controllable aspects of bullying. However, the effects on the victim are automatic processes. An individual tends to feel scared and worried when threatened or abused.
The second concept is the power imbalance. Power imbalance allows the bully to dominate the victim and show aggression over them. Bullying only takes place on an individual who is less powerful than the bully is. Bullies in schools do not threaten peers who seem strong or influential. Social status also presents a situation of power imbalance. According to Dosani, (2008), members of the high social class mainly bully those of a lower social class.
Repetitive and intentional actions are another social psychology concept related with bullying. Bullies perform intentional actions with an aim of causing harm to the victim. The repetitive actions cause a victim to fear the bully and thus the process of bullying continues.
It is hard to fight bullying because some cases begin at home. Some incidents of bullying happen because of domestic violence. A bully develops the habit to dominate over their peers because of the violence used at their homes. For example, a person may develop a habit of bullying weak peers because one of their parents is violent (Dosani, 2008). Therefore, it is challenging to stop bullying because it begins at homes.
Authorities face a challenge with bullying because some reported incidents seem exaggerated (Goldstein, 2002). Authorities who deal with bullying sometimes do not judge a bullying case psychologically. The authorities view some incidents of bullying as child play. At other times, the authorities fail to believe that a child could perform actions with the intentions of harming another child. Authorities tend to make a general assumption that children of a certain age are innocent and harmless while they are the bullies.
Some victims fail to report incidents of bullying (Goldstein, 2002). It is challenging the authorities to deal with an incident, which has not been reported. At the same time, some victims report bullying incidents late. This hinders the disciplinary process to take place because the bullying action has already affected the victim. Some bullies also run away from school when they realize that a bullying incident concerning them has been forwarded to the authorities.
There is not a well-specified process for dealing with bullying in the school system. Parents who report incidents of bullying to the school on behalf of their children fail to receive cooperation from the school administration (Klein, 2012). Parents who report incidents of bullying in elementary school do not receive any feedback on the action that the school takes. There is no specified process to handle bullies. In some institutions, a bully is taken to detention while, in others, a bully is given a warning letter. This makes it difficult for the victims and authorities to know how best to handle incidents of bullying.
The process for reporting incidents of bullying is not clearly defined (Goldstein, 2002). Schools do not have a system for reporting bullies and incidents of bullying. This presents a challenge to the victim on whom to tell when they are bullied. Some schools tell students to report bullying incidents to the principle. In other schools, students should report cases of bullying to the tutor on duty. In some schools, students should report bullying incidents to the guidance and counselor. The school system needs to have a well-defined process for reporting and handling bullying cases.
I agree with Goldstein that the process to report incidents of bullying in schools is not clearly defined (Goldstein, 2002). This poses a challenge to the victims of bullying because they do not know whom to tell. When a bullying incident is reported that is the first step to solving the problem. Schools need to define a system that supports students and reporting of bullying incidents.
I agree will Goldstein that some victims of bullying in learning institutions fail to report bullying cases (Goldstein, 2002). The authorities cannot handle incidents that they do not know about. Victims of bullying should report bullying incidents so that investigations can take place and the bullies punished. Failure to report incidents of bullying makes bullies continue bullying their peers.
I agree with Dosani that it is hard to fight bullying especially incidents from children who face domestic violence (Dosani, 2008). Some children face domestic violence and get bullied in schools. Other children become bullies because they see one of their parents being bullied. For Domestic violence, the child perceives is of force and violence against their peers as a good thing. It is hard to instill discipline to a child who comes from a background of domestic violence.
I disagree with Klein that some schools fail to cooperate with parents who report bullying incidents. School heads know that their school reputation can be ruined once incidents of bullying become public (Klein, 2012). Therefore, the school administrations in a bid to maintain a good public image cooperate with parents who report cases of bullying. The school administrators also have their interests as safeguarding the security and wellbeing of students. Therefore, school heads support and cooperate with parents who report incidents of bullying. They also assist in the process of investigating and offer psychological help to the victims of bullying.
I disagree with Goldstein that authorities fail to investigate incidents, which seem exaggerated (Goldstein, 2002). Authorities and school administrators do not handle offences using intuition. Authorities do not perceive any child as innocent. Cases in the past have proved that school going children undertake risky actions ignorantly.
First, the authorities should raise awareness about bullying in school. In essence, Campaigns to raise awareness about bullying should be conducted in schools (Klein, 2012). These campaigns should be student friendly where students can ask questions about bullying and learn more about bullying.
Secondly, teaching and non-teaching staff in schools should receive training. Training will enable the teaching and non-teaching staff to identify incidents of bullying which are not reported. This helps to solve incidents of bullying on students who fear to report (Goldstein, 2002).
Bullying is a violent practice that takes place in schools. This paper has highlighted the historical events in bullying in the United States. It has also highlighted the social psychological concepts of bullying. Finally, the paper has given recommendations on how the authorities should deal with incidents of bullying in schools.
Dosani, S. (2008). Bullying brilliant ideas for keeping your child safe and happy. Oxford: Infinite Ideas.
Goldstein, A. P. (2002). The psychology of group aggression. Chichester, West Sussex: J. Wiley.
Klein, J. (2012). The bully society: school shootings and the crisis of bullying in America's schools. New York: New York University Press.