Bullying refers to the act of “intimidating a weaker person or to make them do something against their will” (Bulach, Fulbright, & Williams, 2003). In most cases, it involves some form of physical injuries. Bullying is also associated with emotional and mental effects on the affected persons. It occurs in several places including schools and workplaces. Bullying in schools is perceived to be the type that occurs about education either inside or outside the school compound (Bulach, Fulbright, & Williams, 2003). The types of bullying activities in schools include violence against other students, isolation, and harassment. In most cases, bullying involves students who believe they are more powerful than their colleagues and those that are perceived to be weak and can not defend themselves. This means that powerful students always aim at maintaining their dominance over the weak ones through their bullying activities.
It is estimated that between 60% to 80% percent of students are bullied in schools (Flynt & Rhoda, 2004). This has led to a significant reduction in the quality of education among high schools in the country. Both the bullies and their victims usually report very poor academic results at all levels (Flynt & Rhoda, 2004). Despite the numerous efforts and measures put in place to control bullying, few results have been achieved. The failure of such efforts has been partly attributed to a lack of clear understanding of the causes of bullying (Flynt & Rhoda, 2004). Besides, the problem has always been ignored as an insignificant form of violence. Following the deterioration of quality of education and rising concerns over the security of students, bullying has since been recognized as a criminal offense. Very little research has been done on the causes, effects, and mitigation approaches bullying. This explains why the problem has persisted in most schools. This research study provides a framework for understanding the various aspects of bullying such as causes, effects, and how it can be prevented.
Aluedse, O. (2006). Bullying in schools. Educational Research Quarterly, vol. 30 (1), 37-49.
This article discusses various aspects of bullying such as causes, symptoms of bullying among victims, and its effects on the victim. It emphasizes the need to prevent bullying to improve the quality of education. However, it does not give specific guidelines on how to end bullying in high schools.
Andershed, H., Keirr, M., & Stattin, H. (2001). Bullying in schools and violence on the streets: are the same people involved? Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, vol. 2 (1), 31-49.
This article discusses the relationship between bullying and other criminal activities that involve violence. The author argues that students who engage in bullying during their school years are likely to be involved in a crime involving violence in the future. However, it does not link specific types of bullying with a particular crime.
Arora, T. (1998). Measuring bullying with life in school checklist. Pastoral Care in Education, vol. 12 (1) , 11-15.
This article attempts to highlight the risk factors that make students vulnerable to bullying in schools. The author argues that an unfavorable school environment contributes to the culture of bullying. The findings are based on students’ bullying experiences.
Baldry, A. (2004). The impact of direct and indirect bullying on the mental and physical health of Italian youngsters. Aggressive Behavior, vol. 30 (1), 343-355.
The author discusses the two main types of bullying, direct bullying, and indirect bullying, and how they develop in schools. He also highlights the effects of the various types of bullying on students and how they can be prevented.
Bollmer, M., Harrison, M., & Milich, R. (2006). Reactions to bullying and peer victimization: narratives, physiological arousal, and personality. Journal of research in Personality, vol. 40 (5), 803-828.
This article consists of various testimonies by students on their bullying experiences. The author uses testimonies to explain the mental and emotional effects of bullying among students. He also explains the relationship between students’ personality and bullying.
Bosacki, S., Marini, Z., & Dane, A. (2006). Voices from the classroom: pictorial and narrative representations of children’s bullying experiences. Journal of Moral Education, vol. 35 (2), 231-245.
The author attempts to explain the meaning of bullying from the students’ perspective. The conclusions made in this article are based on first-hand information collected from students about bullying. It is thus important in understanding the meaning of bullying.
Boulton, J. (2000). Teachers’ views on bullying definitions, attitudes, and ability to cope. British Journal of Education Psychology, vol. 67 (1), 223-233.
The author explains the meaning of bullying from teachers’ perspectives. He posits that teachers consider bullying to be abuse that negatively affects both academic performance and the overall wellbeing of students.
Bulach, C., Fulbright, J., & Williams, R. (2003). Bullying behavior: what is the potential for violence at your school. Journal of International Psychology, vol.10 (3), 400-510.
This article focuses on the dynamics of bullying by evaluating the factors or reasons for bullying in schools. The authors highlight the signs that indicate the existence of bullying in a school environment.
Calhoun, C., & Gerters, J. (2007). Classical sociological theory. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
This textbook focuses on various deviant behaviors such as bullying. It uses a variety of classical sociological theories to explain the causes of deviant behavior and how such behaviors are perpetuated in society.
Cerezo, F., & Ato, M. (2005). Bullying among peers in Spanish and English students: a sociometric perspective using the bull-5 questionnaire. Educational Psychology, vol. 25 (4), 353-368.
The authors of this article explain the meaning of bullying from a psychological perspective. The data used in their analysis was based on surveys conducted in Spanish and English high schools. They conclude that bullying has both mental and emotional effects on the victims.
Chapell, M., & Hasselman, P. (2006). Bullying in elementary school, high school, and college. Adolescence, vol. 41 (1), 164-165.
This article traces the bullying cycle from elementary school to the college level. It highlights the dominant types of bullying at each stage of learning. Besides, it also discusses the factors that lead to bullying at each level of learning.
Debbie, L., & Liu, A. (2007). The path through bullying: a process model from the inside story of bullies in Hong Kong secondary schools. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, vol. 24 (1), 53-75.
The authors of this article attempt to develop a theoretical framework for explaining bullying in high schools. They trace the stages through which bullying develops in schools and the factors that contribute to the success of each stage.
Desouze, E., & Ribeiro, J. (2005). Bullying and sexual harassment among Brazilian high school students. J Interpers Violence, Vol. 20 (9), 1018-1038.
The article highlights the various forms of abuse in Brazilian high schools. It identifies bullying and sexual harassment as common forms of abuse in high schools. The authors argue that victims of bullying are also likely to be harassed sexually by the bullies.
Due, P. (2005). Bullying and symptoms among school-aged children: an international comparative cross-sectional study in 28 countries. European Journal of Public Health, vol. 15 (2), 128-132.
The article provides a model for detecting the existence of bullying in schools. The author highlights the symptoms exhibited by students experiencing bullying. The approaches that can be used to prevent bullying are also discussed in the article. However, the author’s recommendations are based on personal opinions instead of empirical evidence.
Elenia, A., Eleini, D., & Anastasia, V. (2008). Evaluating the effectiveness of curriculum-based intervention programs in Greek schools. Education Psychology, vol. 27 (5), 693-711.
The article discusses the various approaches used to manage bullying in schools. It particularly evaluates the effectiveness of various interventions used by school authorities and educators to end bullying.
Espilage, D., & Melisia, H. (2007). Dating violence and sexual harassment across the bully-victim continuum among middle and high school students. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol. 36 (6), 799-811.
This research report explains the reasons for bullying. It focuses on the link between student relationships and bullying. The authors conclude that relationships involving students of opposite sex normally leads to bullying and sexual harassment.
Faye, M. (2003). Learning disabilities and bullying: double jeopardy. Journal of Learning Disabilities, vol. 36 (4), 336-347.
This research report highlights the relationship between students’ learning abilities and bullying. The main concept in this source is that the differences in students’ learning abilities can lead to bullying due to the frustrations caused by the differences in learning abilities. In some cases, the quality of education reduces if students with poor learning abilities are bullied.
Flynt, S., & Rhoda, M. (2004). Bullying and children with disability. Journal of Institutional Psychology, vol. 9 (2), 131-142.
This article focuses on appearance as a reason for bullying. The article provides information on the causes and effects of bullying among disabled students in schools.
Fox, F., & Boulton, J. (2009). The social skills problems of victims of bullying: self, peer, and teacher’s perspectives. British Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 75 (1), 313-328.
The above article discusses the role of socialization in developing the personality or character of students. It highlights the relationship between socialization and bullying by evaluating the views of the victims, their peers, and teachers regarding bullying.
Gason, A., & Sandra, C. (2008). The production of tyrannical space. Children’s Geographies, vol. 4 (2), 239-250.
The above article explains the factors that contribute to bullying in schools. It identifies power imbalance among students as the major factor that contributes to bullying.
Geoff, L., Jullie, D., & Clare, M. (2008). Vulnerability to bullying in children with a history of specific speech and language difficulties. European Journal of Special Needs, vol. 23 (1), 1-16.
This article also discusses how disability contributes to bullying among students. The authors argue that students with a history of communication difficulties are more vulnerable to bullying as compared to those who can common properly.
Gini, G. (2006). Bullying as a social process: the role of group membership in students’ perception of inter-group aggression at school. Journal of School Psychology, vol. 44 (1), 51-65.
The above article explains the meaning of bullying from a sociological perspective. It focuses on the development of bullying among various groups of students in schools. It identifies the factors that perpetuate bullying in groups.
Green, J., Espelage, D., & Wasserman, S. (2007). Statistical analysis of friendship patterns and bullying behaviors among youth. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, vol. 30 (118), 61-75.
The above article is a report on the effects of bullying in schools. It presents a statistical view of the relationships between friendship patterns and bullying among students. It also indicates the rate at which bullying occurs in schools.
Gruber, J., & Fineran, S. (2007). The impact of bullying and sexual harassment on middle and high school girls. Violence Against Women, vol. 13 (6), 627-647.
This article mainly focuses on the effects of the various forms or types of bullying on students. The main effects discussed in it include emotional, mental, and health effects of bullying.
Healy, J., & Pius, W. (2009). Statistics: a tool for social research. New York: Cengage.
This textbook focuses on various statistical tools used in social research. It is thus important in finding information concerning research design, data collection, and data analysis.
Houbre, B., & Tarquino, C. (2007). Bullying among students and its consequences on health. European Journal of Psychology of Education, vol. 21 (2), 183-208.
The above article focuses on the various types of bullying and their impacts on victims. It highlights the effects of bullying on the victim’s health. Besides, it also explains the emotional and mental effects of bullying.
Jakob, R., & Wilson, W. (2003). Statistical methods. London: Academic Press.
The above textbook discusses the various statistical methods used in social research. It highlights the application of various statistical methods and techniques in designing and conducting a research study.
Johnson, R., & Bhattachany, G. (2009). Statistics: principles and methods. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
This textbook also focuses on the use of statistical tools and techniques to design and conduct a successful research study. It is thus important in finding information on data collection, analysis, and presentation.
Jones, C. (2009). Drawing boundaries: exploring the relationship between sexual harassment, gender, and bullying. Women’s Studies International, vol. 29 (2), 147-158.
The above article attempts to explain the relationship between bullying, gender, and sexual harassment. It also attempts to explain the difference between sexual harassment and bullying in schools. It does this by highlighting the characteristics of both sexual harassment and bullying.
Kepenekci, K., & Cinkir, S. (2006). Bullying among Turkish high school students. Child Abuse and Neglect, vol. 30 (2), 193-204.
This article explores the various aspects of bullying in Turkish high schools. It explains the effects of bullying activities in Turkish schools and how the Turkish school authorities are managing to bully.
Kim, J.-U. (2006). The effect of a bullying prevention program on responsibility and victimization of bullied children in Korea. International Journal of Reality Therapy, vol. 26 (1), 4-8.
The above source also evaluates the effectiveness of various interventions meant to prevent bullying. It focuses on the anti-bullying policies used in Korea by discussing the relationship between intervention programs and the responsibilities of parties involved in bullying.
Klomek, A., Marrocco, F., & Marsorie, K. (2007). Bullying, depression, and suicidality in adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, vol. 46 (1), 40-49.
This article also explores the effects of bullying on the victims. It particularly focuses on the emotional and mental effects of bullying such as depression, stress, and suicidal thoughts among the victims.
Kothari, C. (2008). Research methodology: methods and techniques. London: New Age International.
This is a research methodology textbook that guides researchers on how to develop effective research proposals. It does this by explaining the various research techniques and methods suitable for each stage of research.
McBurney, D., & White, T. (2009). Research methods. New York: Cengage Learning.
This is also a research textbook that presents a variety of methods and techniques that can be used to conduct successful research. It is a useful text for understanding the process of data analysis.
McNeill, P., & Chipman, S. (2005). Research methods. New York: Routledge.
This textbook highlights the research tools and techniques required during research. It discusses the circumstances under which each of the various research techniques can be used effectively.
Milson, E., & Gallo, L. (2006). Bullying in middle schools: prevention and intervention. Middle School Journal, vol. 37 (3), 12-19.
This article explores the various bullying activities in schools. It also gives recommendations on how bullying can be managed effectively in schools.
Nado, A. (2007). Anti-racism in schools: a question of leadership? Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, vol. 28 (1), 69-85.
The above article explores the relevance of culture, race, and ethnicity regarding bullying. The authors argue that the prevention of racism in high schools can help in reducing bullying.
Naylor, P., & Lowie, H. (2007). Teachers’ and pupils’ definitions of bullying. British Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 76 (3), 553-576.
The above article also discusses the meaning of bullying from both teachers’ and students’ perspectives. It highlights the similarities and differences in the way teachers and students interpret bullying and its effects.
Sam, F., & Marton, R. (2007). Bullying and children with disabilities. Journal of Instructional Psychology, vol. 30 (4), 321-344.
This article also explores the relationship between bullying and disability among students. The research concludes that physically disabled students should be closely monitored by the school authorities since they are more vulnerable to bullying.
Wilcox, R. (2010). Fundamentals of modern statistical methods. New York: Springer.
This is a statistics textbook that discusses the tools and techniques used in research. It is thus an important source for finding information on data analysis.
Earlier research works attempted to explore the various aspects of bullying in schools and other places such as workplaces. Some of the findings of such studies are as follows.
Meaning of Bullying
Teachers perceive bullying to be “a form of abuse that involves repeated acts over time attempting to create or enforce one’s power over another” (Boulton, 2000). According to their perspective, bullying is characterized by three forms of abuse. These forms of abuse include verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and physical abuse (Boulton, 2000). Teachers have unanimously agreed that bullying is a major threat to quality education. This is because the effect it has on the affected students undermines such students’ ability to concentrate on their studies. Most schools have introduced campaigns against violence to help in controlling bullying (Boulton, 2000).
In the context of abuse, bullying is associated with some form of violence that can be “as subtle as intimidation” (Desouze & Ribeiro, 2005). However, chronic cases of bullying usually involve the use of excessive force such as beating up victims or even carrying or using weapons such as guns (Desouze & Ribeiro, 2005). Teachers have identified three parties about bullying. They believe that a typical bullying activity involves the bully, the bullied, and the bystanders (Naylor & Lowie, 2007). This means that most cases of bullying occur in a crowded setting whereby the dominant members impose their interests on the weak members.
The bully is associated with the following characteristics. First, they are usually irresponsible and lack the interest to improve their performance in most academic and nonacademic activities (Naylor & Lowie, 2007). The frustrations resulting from such irresponsibility contributes to their involvement in bullying activities. Psychiatrists believe that bullies in schools have personality disorders. Most students suffering from inferiority complex usually engage in unorthodox means to prove their superiority (Milson & Gallo, 2006). Such means include bullying and engaging in other outlawed activities that help them create the impression of a hero. Arrogance is another personality problem that leads to bullying (Milson & Gallo, 2006). Students with high levels of arrogance normally use all possible means to prove their supremacy over their colleagues and this leads to bullying (Milson & Gallo, 2006).
The bullied students are usually unable to protect themselves from the actual or the perceived threats of the bully. Besides, most of them are not in a position to report their plight to the school authorities for fear of further attacks (Aluedse, 2006). This not only makes them the best candidates for bullying but also contributes to the persistence of the culture of bullying and violence in schools. The bystanders in most cases are supporters of the bully (Aluedse, 2006). They sometimes assist the bully to execute the bullying activities. However, they are not able to question the bully and are sometimes victims of bullying. Teachers believe that bullying is learned through differential associations (Aluedse, 2006). This means that students adopt the culture of violence and bullying by learning such negative behaviors from their colleagues (Desouze & Ribeiro, 2005). This is attributed to the fact that most bullies are former victims who adopt the behavior of revenge. Consequently, teachers focus on behavior change as the best approach to prevent bullying.
Students perceive bullying to be “an act of repeated aggression meant to intimidate or hurt another person either physically or emotionally” (Naylor & Lowie, 2007). According to this perspective, bullying is considered to be all actions meant to help one student to gain power over other students. Consequently, the bullied student is one who has been “repeatedly exposed over time to negative acts” (Andershed, Keirr, & Stattin, 2001). The negative actions in this case refer to acts done intentionally to cause injury or discomfort to another student (Andershed, Keirr, & Stattin, 2001). While some students believe that bullying is a normal part of life meant to help the weak students to adjust to the challenges of life, most of them consider it an offense.
In most boarding schools, newly admitted students are subjected to some form of bullying as a way of initiating them to the new school environment (Andershed, Keirr, & Stattin, 2001). The new students are normally expected to obey the senior students even if they are instructed to do what is wrong. Consequently, the culture of violence and bullying has become part and parcel of school life. This explains why even bright students get involved in bullying. Research on the causes of violence in schools indicates that most students agree that peer influence, drug abuse, and personality disorders are the main drivers of bullying in their schools (Gason & Sandra, 2008). While most students believe that bullying should be stopped, they hardly have an idea of how it can be achieved.
Parents consider bullying to be an abuse that violet the rights of their children in schools (Gason & Sandra, 2008). Unlike the teachers, parents are more concerned with the emotional and physical wellbeing of their children in schools. Parents have in the past blamed teachers and school authorities for allowing the culture of violence and bullying to develop in schools. This is because they interpret bullying from a crime perspective (Gason & Sandra, 2008). This is based on the fact that bullying was only recognized as an offense after widespread complaints by parents on the effects it had on their children’s performance and wellbeing (Cerezo & Ato, 2005). Parents believe that bullying can be stopped if the school authorities and the government formulate laws that can help in prosecuting its perpetrators.
Educators define bullying as “an abuse associated with repeated acts over time that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power” (Cerezo & Ato, 2005). In this case, the more powerful students abuse their colleagues who are perceived to be less powerful. The power imbalance is caused by differences in socioeconomic backgrounds, performance in class, and the physical appearance of the students (Chapell & Hasselman, 2006). Educators agree that bullying has negative effects on the quality of education since it interferes with the concentration of students in academics. Educators explain bullying from a social perspective. This means that bullying is not only a threat to education but also a social problem that undermines the efforts to achieve the overall wellbeing of students (Fox & Boulton, 2009). As a social phenomenon, bullying is not only the concern of teachers and school authorities but the community as a whole. Educators agree that parents should help in fighting bullying by properly socializing their children (Fox & Boulton, 2009). They are expected to help in instilling discipline and respect in their children. The teachers and school authorities on the other hand are expected to promote integration among students. This can be achieved through learning activities that promote teamwork and corporation among students (Fox & Boulton, 2009).
Research conducted on students’ behavior indicates that bullying occurs in a cycle and develops in phases (Cerezo & Ato, 2005). The bullies usually depend on their “ability to create the illusion of fear” (Cerezo & Ato, 2005) to prevent other students from reporting the cases of bullying. This facilitates the development of the ‘bullying mentality’ and the subculture of bullying in schools. The bullying mentality facilitates violence and abuse among students. The bullying cycle is characterized by two elements namely, an act of aggression as well as a response from the bullied (Chapell & Hasselman, 2006). The responses are considered to be the signs of surrender on the part of the victim. The bullying cycle “sets in motion only in the presence of these elements” (Chapell & Hasselman, 2006) and perpetuates bullying over some time. Thus to prevent bullying, the elements that perpetuate it must be eliminated. This calls for corporation among parents, teachers, and students. Educators have thus recommended the formation of teachers and parents associations to address bullying amongst other challenges in schools.
Reasons for Bullying
Socioeconomic background refers to the social and economic factors that define the environment in which the bully and the bullied were brought up (Arora, 1998). These factors contribute to bullying as follows. Students from poor families are usually not able to afford the affluence associated with most students in urban schools. Such students are considered to belong to lower social classes (Arora, 1998). This leads to a power imbalance between the poor students and those from rich families. This results in bullying in the following ways. First, poor students are sometimes discriminated against due to their low economic status (Bosacki, Marini, & Dane, 2006). Thus they become isolated and feel unwanted in their schools.
Second, some students from poor families become jealous of those from wealthy families (Bosacki, Marini, & Dane, 2006). As a result of their jealousy, they bully the students from wealthy families by confiscating their properties, beating them up, or calling them names. This is usually common in schools attended by children of low-income earners. The culture of violence in society is also a cause of bullying in schools (Arora, 1998). Students brought up in areas associated with high levels of crime are likely to become bullies in schools. This is because they internalize the culture of violence and continue to practice it as a normal way of life in schools. Lack of proper socialization at early stages in life can lead to personality disorders among children. For example, an inferiority complex can develop in a child if he or she was not helped to realize his or her potentials at an early stage in life (Bosacki, Marini, & Dane, 2006). Such a child has a greater risk of being a victim of bullying or can become a bully in school.
Culture or Religious Background
Culture refers to the “tastes in art and manners that are favored by a particular group or community” (Due, 2005). It defines what is accepted and what is against the trends of society. Since students come from different cultural backgrounds, they find it difficult to interact on common grounds (Due, 2005). This is particularly common in schools in cosmopolitan cities. The students who are not able to adjust to the generally accepted cultural trends are considered ‘outcasts’ within the school environment. Thus they are subjected to various bullying activities such as isolation, criticizing those who interact with them, and discrimination (Kepenekci & Cinkir, 2006). In some cases, students develop their subcultures in schools.
For example, the culture of drug abuse is a common phenomenon in most high schools. This promotes bullying in two ways. First, the culture itself promotes violence and crime which leads to bullying. Second, the students who refuse to accept such subcultures are normally bullied to accept them (Kepenekci & Cinkir, 2006). Religion is closely related to culture since it determines what students believe to be right or wrong. Students from strong religious backgrounds are less likely to get involved in bullying. However, some religions have been associated with violence in the past. For example, Islam has always been associated with terrorism. Consequently, the students who profess the Islamic faith are bullied by their colleagues due to their religious backgrounds (Due, 2005). When this persists over time, the victims develop a defense mechanism which in most cases involves violence such as fights in schools. Thus it becomes difficult to prevent bullying caused by cultural conflicts.
The appearance of students plays a major role in bullying. One of the methods used by bullies to identify their victims is considering their size (Kepenekci & Cinkir, 2006). Students who appear to be weak and feeble often fall victims to the bullies. This is because they are less likely to defend themselves when attacked by the bullies (Geoff, Jullie, & Clare, 2008). Besides, such students are usually too scared to report their plight to school authorities. Consequently, the bullies find it easy to perpetrate their evil activities. Strong students on the other hand become very dangerous when recruited by the bullies.
They use their physical strength to injure their victims as well as cause fear. Disabled students are also common victims of bullying and this can be explained as follows (Geoff, Jullie, & Clare, 2008). First, they are not able to defend themselves when attacked by the bullies. Thus they are usually attacked regularly by the bullies. Second, most physically disabled students can not participate in various co-curricular activities such as sports (Sam & Marton, 2007). Such students are usually mocked or isolated due to their disabilities. In most mixed high schools, the relationships between male and female students normally lead to bullying (Espilage & Melisia, 2007). Those who are not able to find friends of the opposite sex due to their appearance are labeled as ‘outcasts’ and are often rejected by their colleagues (Espilage & Melisia, 2007). The competition brought about by such relationships encourages bullying. In this case, some students bully others to prevent them from having relationships with particular students (Espilage & Melisia, 2007).
Intellect relates to the ability of students to learn in a school environment. It determines the performance of students in academics. The ability of students to excel in academics usually varies since they all have different intellectual capacities. Thus some students perform better than others in the class. However, such differences affect students’ relationships if not addressed (Faye, 2003). For example, schools with huge performance gaps are associated with two groups of students, the performers, and the non-performers. When the number of performers is higher than the non-performers, the latter are considered to be failures. Consequently, they are rejected, mocked, and isolated by other students (Faye, 2003). In some cases, the students who are not able to excel in academics are excluded from class activities such as group discussion on the ground that they can not make valuable contributions. When the number of non-performers is greater than that of the performers, the latter becomes the subject of envy in class (Faye, 2003). In most cases, such students are beaten up and their books or any other possessions are destroyed (Bollmer, Harrison, & Milich, 2006). The rationale for such kind of behavior is that the students who are not able to excel in academics will do anything to lower the performance of the few who are excelling in academics to achieve equality. Thus differences in academic performance are major causes of bullying in schools.
Racial or Ethnical Heritage
Various races and ethnic groups are associated with different cultures and beliefs. Such cultures and beliefs play an important role in the socialization of children especially during their early years in school. Culture shapes the children’s perception of peace and cooperation with others (Bollmer, Harrison, & Milich, 2006). The whites are associated with the culture of individualism (Nado, 2007). Individualism is a social philosophy that focuses on the value of an individual regarding all aspects of success. It discourages cooperation and this leads to bullying. Students who are not able to mingle freely or share their views with others are normally victims of bullying. This is because they are considered to be selfish and misfits in the school (Nado, 2007). The African-Americans are associated with the culture of violence and drug abuse (Nado, 2007). Students from such ethnic backgrounds have internalized violence as part of life. Thus bullying is a common practice in their lives. When they join high schools, they influence their peers who might be from other races or ethnic groups to adopt the culture of violence. The cases of violence will increase if such students succeed in influencing their peers to engage in acts of violence. In America and parts of Europe, most cases of bullying are reported in schools predominantly attended by African-Americans (Bollmer, Harrison, & Milich, 2006). Arabs have also been associated with violence especially due to the link between Islam and terrorism.
Physical Health Problems
Bullying is one of the major security concerns in high schools. In most cases, bullying involves the use of threats and mild violence such as shoving. However, in severe cases, it involves the use of excessive force to inflict pain or injury to the targeted students (Debbie & Liu, 2007). Students normally suffer physical injuries as a result of being beaten up by the bullies. When bullying continues for a long time, the affected students usually develop a lot of stress. High levels of stress interfere with the emotional balance of an individual. Stress normally culminates in the use of violence if the affected individual can not manage it (Debbie & Liu, 2007). When this happens the affected students tend to use excessive force to retaliate. For example, students who have repeatedly experienced bullying resort to the use of weapons to attack the bullies (Debbie & Liu, 2007).
Figure 1 in the appendix illustrates the rate at which students are injured with weapons due to bullying. This has resulted in the loss of lives and severe injuries in the past. The stress and anxiety resulting from bullying is a major cause of other health problems. The students suffering from stress as a result of bullying usually develop ulcers in their stomachs. They also suffer from frequent headaches and lose weight within a very short period (Elenia, Eleini, & Anastasia, 2008). In some schools, the bullies prevent their victims from visiting the canteens for meals. In such cases the affected students become malnourished. Too much fear among students as a result of bullying is a common cause of coronary diseases. This exposes the affected students to the danger of suffering heart attacks at an early stage in their lives. A better percentage of the healthcare funds used by most schools are channeled towards treating diseases or health conditions resulting from bullying.
Spiritual problems relate to the effects of bullying on the religious beliefs of the bully and the victims. Research studies on deviant behaviors indicate that bullying is not consistent with the teachings of both Christianity and Islam which are the main religions in the world (Gruber & Fineran, 2007). The concepts of Christianity focus on promoting peace and tolerance among individuals. The same is true about the teachings of Islam. Thus the spiritual problems caused by bullying can be explained as follows. First, bullying promotes violence among students. The students who adopt the culture of violence are likely to commit other sins or actions that contradict the general teachings of religion. For example, the use of violence not only leads to physical injury but can also cause death (Gini, 2006). Thus bullying leads to deviation from the principles or religious teachings.
Second, the culture of bullying influences students’ perception of life and moral standards. The bullies tend to deviate from the belief in respect for life and the importance of following the right channels in solving their problems (Gini, 2006). The victims on the other hand tend to lose their faith in their religious believes when they can not overcome bullying. Consequently, those involved in bullying tend to undermine the importance of religion. The chances of students getting involved in more serious crimes increases as they develop atheist beliefs and practices (Kim, 2006). Third, in some cases, students are bullied due to their religious backgrounds. This occurs when the teachings of the religions they subscribe to prevent them from adopting the common culture in the school environment. For example, female Muslim students have a unique dressing style which is not popular among non-Muslim females (Kim, 2006). Such students have always denounced their religious practices for fear of being bullied by their colleagues.
Mental problems caused by bullying are always in the form of mental illnesses or disorders. Mental disorder refers to “psychological or behavior patterns generally associated with a subjective or disability that occurs in an individual and is not part of the normal development or culture” (Klomek, Marrocco, & Marsorie, 2007). The various mental disorders caused by bullying are as follows. First, bullying leads to anxiety disorders among victims. The bullies normally intimidate or cause a lot of fear among their victims. When such fear persists over time, the victims tend to develop anxiety which affects their ability to interact with others. Second, it causes stress among bullied students. Stress refers to the “emotional and physical strain caused by our response to pressure from the external world” (Klomek, Marrocco, & Marsorie, 2007). Most victims are unable to cope with the pressure resulting from bullying activities.
When this happens, they develop stress which leads to withdrawal, inactivity, and poor performance in academics. Third, bullying causes depression. Depression is “a disorder involving feelings of sadness lasting for more than two weeks and is accompanied by lack of interest in life, hopelessness and decreased energy” (Klomek, Marrocco, & Marsorie, 2007). Bullying leads to depression since it lasts for a very long time. Depression has negative impacts on the performance of students in the class. Finally, when students are not able to protect themselves or find help from anyone, they usually become hopeless in life (Houbre & Tarquino, 2007). They tend to consider themselves as failures or outcasts in society. This leads to two problems. The student can develop very low self-esteem as a result of the frustrations caused by bullying. They can also develop suicidal thoughts. This happens when students believe that the only solution to their problem is to end their lives.
Families whose children are involved in bullying either as bullies or as the students who are bullied always face several problems or challenges. Such problems are as follows. First, families spend a lot of money to rehabilitate their children who bully their colleagues in school (Houbre & Tarquino, 2007). In most cases, parents have to contract a psychiatrist to counsel their children and this involves a lot of money. Children involved in bullying normally engage in related crimes such as drug abuse and theft. This accounts for the rising cases of juvenile delinquency in the country. The affected families normally spend a lot of cash in handling the legal suits occasioned by their children’s criminal activities. The families whose children get injured due to bullying also spend a lot of money to off-set medical bills (Houbre & Tarquino, 2007). Second, bullying is a cause of grief in most families. The parents are not only disappointed by their children’s behavior, but also lose their reputation in the community.
Third, it leads to separations and disharmony in the family. Students who are deeply involved in bullying often ignore their parents. They hardly have any respect for adults including their parents. When this happens, a lot of disagreements occur in the family between the parents and their children. Sometimes even the parents disagree on the best way to help their children to stop bullying others. Chronic cases of such disagreements have always led to separations in families. Finally, bullying has changed children’s perceptions of the role of their parents and families as a whole in their lives (Jones, 2009). As students get involved in bullying and internalize the criminal activities associated with it, they tend to consider their parents and family members as their rivals. This is because their family members will always oppose their bullying activities. Thus instead of viewing their parents as role models, bullies tend to consider their parents to be disciplinarians who are not interested in their wellbeing.
Types of Bullying
There are two broad categories of bullying namely direct and indirect bullying. The classification is based on the method used by the bully to cause injury or to exercise power over the victim. Each of these categories is associated with specific types of bullying. The various types of bullying are as follows.
Direct bullying involves the use of physical contact to injury the victims. It is mainly associated with the use of violence which leads to physical injuries. The specific types of bullying under this category include verbal bullying and physical bullying. Physical bullying involves the use of “brute force to assert control” (Baldry, 2004). In this case, the bullies take advantage of their size and strength to harass their victims. In most cases, the bully is much stronger or physically bigger as compared to his or her victim. This gives them the ability to instill fear or harass their victims and avoid revenge attacks (Baldry, 2004). Physical bullying normally occurs in places where students are gathered in one area. For example, most bullying activities occur in the school canteens during meals. In such cases, the bullies use their strength to prevent weak students from eating. Physical bullying also occurs when students are involved in group activities that do not involve teachers’ participation. For example, many students are usually bullied on the playing field as they play (Baldry, 2004). The absence of the teachers allows the bullies to engage in their bullying activities without being identified.
Verbal bullying is less severe as compared to physical bullying. It mainly involves the use of words or some form of communication to harass the victims. The bullies using this type of bullying normally call their victims nasty names or use abusive language when addressing them. When this happens, the victim gets embarrassed and hurt emotionally (Jones, 2009). Research indicates that boys are more likely to engage in direct bullying as compared to girls. The girls who engage in direct bullying often prefer verbal bullying. This is attributed to the fact that boys are highly associated with aggression as compared to girls. Besides, the courage and physical strength associated with boys enable them to directly attack their victims or engage in acts of violence.
Direct bullying is considered to be more dangerous to the lives of students as compared to indirect bullying (Baldry, 2004). This is because it succeeds in causing great fear among the victims. This prompts the victims to resort to drastic measures such as currying firearms. When such firearms are misused, the bullies or their victims can lose their lives. Direct bullying is also a major cause of suicidal thoughts among students (Baldry, 2004). While the affected students might not intend to terminate their lives, the actions they take to avoid being bullied endanger their lives. Such actions can involve jumping from buildings or refusing to eat for fear of being bullied in the school canteen. Despite being the most dangerous type of bullying, direct bullying is very easy to prevent in schools. This is because the cases of violence associated with it are often easy to identity (Baldry, 2004). Besides, the identity of the bullies can be traced with ease. Thus the school authorities can easily monitor cases of direct bullying and take the necessary actions in time.
Indirect bullying is a les form or type of bullying as compared to direct bullying. Unlike direct bullying, it does not rely on physical contact to assert control or to injure the victims (Baldry, 2004). Thus the size or strength of the bully as well as the victim is not important in this case. Indirect bullying focuses on causing emotional or mental harm to the victims. To achieve this objective, the bullies using it attack their victims through the following ways. First, they target the relationships of their victims (Jones, 2009). The bullies attack the relationships of their victims to isolate them from the rest of the students. This type of isolation is also referred to as social aggression. Social aggression is achieved through several ways which include criticizing those who interact with the victims. In some cases, the victims are left out of school activities such as sports or class discussions. Thus the victim feels unwanted or rejected by the rest of the school. Eventually, the victim develops stress which can degenerate into depression if not managed or treated in time (Jones, 2009).
Second, the bullies normally target the self-esteem of their victims (Baldry, 2004). They aim to lower the self-esteem of their victims through actions that cause embarrassment. This has always been achieved by mocking the victims. Exclusions are also used to lower the esteem of the victims. The victims normally lose their esteem when they are left out of group activities. Finally, the bullies target the reputation of their victims. In this case, the bullies focus on hurting the victims by tarnishing their reputations (Jones, 2009). Gossiping is the most common method used to ruin the reputation of the victim. It involves spreading information that might not be true and are meant to create a negative impression about the bullied. This hurts the victims both mentally and emotionally.
Indirect bullying is more common among female students as compared to their male counterparts. This is because little physical strength is needed by the bully to achieve his or her intentions of hurting or asserting control over others (Baldry, 2004). While indirect bullying is less severe in terms of the physical harm associated with it, it is very difficult to control. This is based on the fact that the methods used to perpetrate it make it very difficult to identify its existence in a school setting. For example, identifying the originators of gossips is usually very difficult (Baldry, 2004). Consequently, the school’s authorities find it difficult to identify and punish students who engage in indirect bullying. Indirect bullying continues to be more prominent in schools due to the little attention it receives from school authorities as well as students. Most cases of indirect bullying are never reported to the teachers or principals (Baldry, 2004). Besides, most students especially girls consider gossiping to be a normal way of life. They hardly realize the effects of their gossips on the victims. Research indicates that direct bullying always precedes indirect bullying. As students grow up in schools, they “tend to shift from direct bullying to indirect bullying” (Baldry, 2004).
Bullying has been identified as one of the major threats to quality education and the wellbeing of students at the high school level. Figure 2 in the appendix shows that a large number of bullying cases occur in high schools. It is estimated that nearly “one out of every six students is bullied in American high schools per week” (Green, Espelage, & Wasserman, 2007). Students who are bullied have a high risk of developing health disorders such as stress and depression. Besides, their performance in academics usually drops significantly (Green, Espelage, & Wasserman, 2007). The bullies on the other hand not only achieve poor academic results but are also likely to be involved in other forms of crime such as stealing (Green, Espelage, & Wasserman, 2007). These trends indicate that bullying is a serious problem in high schools. However, little academic research has been done on the topic of bullying in high schools (Elenia, Eleini, & Anastasia, 2008). An investigation on various juvenile crime databases, school reports, previous research reports, internet, journals, and textbooks revealed a lack of information in the following areas.
- Information on specific risk factors that make students vulnerable to bullying.
- The strategies of incorporating the ideas of parents, teachers, students, and educators in formulating anti-bullying policies.
- Recommendations on the most reliable and cost-effective strategies for fighting bullying in high schools.
The above issues represent a knowledge gap that necessitates a comprehensive research study. It is against this backdrop that this research proposal seeks to provide information that will help in ending bullying in high schools. It seeks to highlight the strategies, theoretical frameworks, and methodologies that can be used to facilitate research work on the topic of bullying. To achieve this objective, the research will answer the following question.
How can students’ behavior be controlled to prevent bullying in high schools?
To fully answer this question and to widen the scope of the study, the following sub-questions will be answered.
- What is the relationship between students’ behavior and bullying?
- To what extent can the views of all education stakeholders be incorporated into anti-bullying policies?
- What risk factors lead to bullying in high schools?
The above questions will be answered using the differential association theory of deviant behavior. This is a sociological theory that explains deviant behavior such as bullying from a learning perspective (Calhoun & Gerters, 2007). This means that all deviant behaviors are acquired through learning facilitated by differential association (Calhoun & Gerters, 2007). The choice of this theory has been informed by the sociological perspective of the research topic.
This will be qualitative research based on content analysis (Johnson & Bhattachany, 2009). This method will be used throughout the study. Additional methods will be applied if necessary and will be meant to complement the above method. Thus the application of additional methods will be informed by the availability of resources and unforeseeable risks that may render the above method less productive (Healy & Pius, 2009). The choice of qualitative research is based on the dynamic nature of bullying and the need to develop a theoretical perspective that can explain it effectively.
Data Collection Method
The data will be collected through content analyses (McBurney & White, 2009). Content analyses will involve reviewing texts with information about the research topic. The content analysis will answer the issues raised during the literature review (McNeill & Chipman, 2005). The content analyses will be used to collect both primary and secondary data (Kothari, 2008). The sources of secondary data will include textbooks, journals, previous research reports, and WebPages. The sources of primary data will include reports on juvenile crime, school reports, and students’ performance records.
The research questions will be answered by the following measures. First, the information on the relationship between students’ behavior and bullying will be conceptualized as ‘relationships’. The specific measures, in this case, will include characteristics of the bullies and the victims. Second, information on risk factors that make students vulnerable to bullying will be conceptualized as ‘determinants’. The specific measures, in this case, will include student’s personalities, socialization, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Finally, the information on how to incorporate the views of various stakeholders in anti-bullying policies will be conceptualized as ‘strategy’. Its specific measures will include security policies and collaboration among stakeholders.
Data Analysis and Presentation
The data will be analyzed through correlation analysis as well as regression analysis. The other statistical tools that will be used for the analysis include ANOVAs and Chi-squares (Jakob & Wilson, 2003). The secondary sources of data will be evaluated for suitability, relevance, and reliability before being used (Healy & Pius, 2009). The results of the analysis will be presented in the form of a report. Graphs and tables will also be used to enhance understanding of the research findings (Wilcox, 2010).
Bullying is a major concern in most high schools in various parts of the world. It is defined as “a form of abuse that involves repeated acts meant to intimidate or assert control over other students” (Andershed, Keirr, & Stattin, 2001). There are two types of bullying namely direct and indirect bullying. The reasons for bullying include intellect, appearance, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds (Bosacki, Marini, & Dane, 2006). Bullying has been associated with the following negative effects on students. First, it causes both emotional and mental disorders. Second, it causes physical health problems such as injuries (Bollmer, Harrison, & Milich, 2006). Third, it results in a significant drop in the performance of students in schools (Bulach, Fulbright, & Williams, 2003). These trends describe the magnitude of the problem of bullying in schools. However, little academic research has been done on the issue of bullying. Consequently, the problem continues to affect the quality of education at the high school level. Thus this research aims at filling the existing knowledge gap on the topic of bullying. The result of this study will help in formulating policies that can help in ending bullying.
Due to the negative impacts of bullying on education and the wellbeing of students coupled with limited knowledge about bullying, the following recommendations should be considered. First, research studies should be conducted to facilitate a better understanding of the various aspects of bullying such as its causes, effects, and ways of controlling it. Second, there should be collaboration among all stakeholders in education to end bullying (Bulach, Fulbright, & Williams, 2003). This calls for a reliable research study that can provide accurate information for decision-making purposes. Consequently, this research study will focus on ensuring validity, accuracy, and reliability.
It shows that many students are likely to be injured or lose their lives as a result of misuse of firearms due to bullying.
It shows that the highest rates of bullying occur in secondary or high schools