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Bullying in american schools

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Introduction Bullying in schools is one of the major problems that United s is experiencing. This paper aims at understanding the impact of bullying on victims, and the steps needed to eradicate it. However, to eradicate bullying, it needs to be tackled from its roots, which lies not in the individual behavior, but in the social system that bully and victim is associated with.
Bullying is defined differently by different experts studying the behavior of bullying. According to Boulton (1997), there is a debate regarding the term ‘ bullying’ (Sanders 3). However, there are some definitions which are popular and are accepted by most researchers studying bullying. One of the popular definitions of bullying is by Olweus (Sanders 3). According to Olweus (1993), bullying is a behavior in which “ a student is bullied or victimized when he is exposed repeatedly and over time to negative actions on the part of one or more other students” (Sanders 3). According to Olweus, not just physical assault and aggression but also the nonverbal aggression, such as staring and teasing, is considered as ‘ negative actions’ (Sanders 3). Also, Olweus believes that for the assault and aggression to be known as bullying, it has to be repetitive in nature (Sanders 3). Other definition of bullying that is popular is the one by Smith and Sharp (Sanders 3). Smith and Sharp (1994) defines bullying as “ systematic abuse of power” (Sanders 3). According to Smith and Sharp, the victim in the incidents of bullying is weak for reasons like physical inferiority, being outnumbered etc., and hence, is not able to defend himself against bully (Sanders 3). This definition also considers bullying as a form of aggressive behavior. According to Camodeca et al. (2003), the idea that intention of hurting other lies at the core of bullying behavior is accepted by most of the definitions of bullying.
Impact of bullying
Bullying has very harmful and negative impact on lives of the victims. The effects of bullying are so strong that they not only affect the childhood of a victim but also destroy his future by lowering his self-esteem, social confidence and emotional health. Not only that but due to helplessness and miserable condition, some victims take extreme measures to tackle the problem and become violent themselves. According to Vossekuil et al. (2002), the analysis of school shooters in the U. S. (from 1974 to 2002) by Secret Service revealed that the shooters were victim of chronic bullying (Espelage and Swearer 2). This shows that school violence is rooted in the experience of bullying (Espelage and Swearer 2). Moreover, the negative psychological outcomes of bullying were found to be common among all the victims and bullies (Espelage and Swearer 2). A study by Nansel et al. (2001) has revealed that there are major long term negative effects of bullying that prove detrimental for both, the victims and the bullies (Marsh et al. 66). According to Olweus, the negative outcomes of bullying like “ peer rejection, delinquent behavior, criminality, depression, psychological disturbance, further violence in school” and suicidal tendency, continue in adulthood of both, the victims and perpetrators of bullying (Marsh et al. 66). This shows that bullying not only destroys the lives of the victims but also affects the lives of the perpetrators negatively. Hence, intervention at right time is essential.
Studies have found that “ bullying does not occur in isolation” but is a result of complex relationship between the individual and his social elements like family, peer group, school, community, culture etc., and is encouraged by individual’s interaction with his social environment (Espelage and Swearer 3). It has been found that individual factors like getting bullied at home can instigate the bullying behavior in child at school (Espelage and Swearer 3). Moreover, the family environment and parental behavior also affects the bullying behavior (Espelage and Swearer 2). Hence, if bullying is to be eradicated from schools, then not only the individual, but his social system like family, peer group, community etc., needs to be assessed to plan intervention (Espelage and Swearer 2). Bullying can be reduced only when it is understood as a part of social system and not only as an individual behavior pattern.
The discussion above proves that bullying is not an isolated behavior but is a behavior that is developed due to environmental and social influence. Hence, bullying can be eradicated only when the social elements responsible for the development of bullying behavior is removed from the environment.
Works Cited
Espelage, Dorothy and Susan Swearer. Bullying in American Schools: A Socio-Ecological
Perspective in Prevention and Intervention. Mahwah : Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2004. Print.
Marsh et al. Bullying: Implications for the Classroom. Ed. Cheryl Sanders and Gary Phye.
San Diego: Elsevier Academic Press, 2004. Print.
Sanders, Cheryl. Bullying: Implications for the Classroom. Ed. Cheryl Sanders and Gary Phye.
San Diego: Elsevier Academic Press, 2004. Print.

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