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Maltreatment by peers is a frequent experience at contemporary schools. One of the maltreatment types is bullying the can be defined as “a form of interpersonal aggression in which one individual—a bully—intentionally and repeatedly aggresses against another, and does so, in part, because the bully has more power or status than the person they seek to harm” (Branscombe & Baron, 2017, p, 362).
The research proves that the spread of the problem depends on age and location. From 10 to 33% of students from different schools report to be frequently bullied by other, usually older, children (Branscombe & Baron, 2017). Bullying has a significant impact on children, adolescents in particular. Nevertheless, the problem can be partially resolved with the application of anti-bullying practices. Thus, the current paper is dedicated to the issue of bullying and its effects as well as anti-bullying practices as related to peer victimization.
Anti-Bullying Practices for Children: Teacher’s Participation
School teachers actively participate in addressing the issue of bullying and peer victimization. The research by Gregus et al. (2017) examines the relationship between the self-efficiency beliefs of teachers and peer victimization of children. The authors define bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior by another youth or group of youth that involves
- an observed perceived power imbalance,
- repetition over time,
- risk of emotional or physical harm to targeted youth” (Gregus et al., 2017, p. 305).
Peer victimization, in its turn, focuses on the situation of victims and is treated as “repeated exposure to peer interactions that convey harmful intent, produce harmful effects, and are sanctioned (often implicitly) by peer groups in which nonintervention is the norm” (Gregus et al., 2017, p. 305).
The research comprised data that were gathered in the period from 2004 to 2012 from six groups of teachers. There were 79 participants on the whole from 10 public elementary schools. They were assessed as for having training for school bullying. The research comprised two studies. The first one was dedicated to the determining circumstances in which teachers tried to manage the cases of bullying and peer victimization at school. The findings are that the majority of teachers are “confident in their ability to manage concerns related to school bullying and peer victimization” (Gregus et al., 2017, p. 309).
Moreover, teachers demonstrated strong intentions to apply the selected anti-bullying interventions. The second study was, in fact, an extension of the previous investigation. Its purpose was to determine the influence of teachers’ attitudes towards bullying at school on their management of bullying situations and students’ victimization rates. The research revealed a “curvilinear relation between teacher self-efficacy and children’s levels of peer victimization and for the notion that teachers’ self-efficacy and intentions to use recommended strategies work synergistically to predict children’s peer victimization” (Gregus et al., 2017, p. 311).
This relation depends on the intentions of a teacher. Thus, the level of peer victimization was high in students whose teachers demonstrated high self-efficiency and, on the contrary, teachers with moderate self-efficiency rates and strong intentions to apply anti-bullying strategies had the lowest peer victimization level (Gregus et al., 2017).
Impact of Bullying on Adolescents
It is evident that bullying has a significant impact on adolescents. Dilmaç (2017) investigated the relationship between adolescents’ levels of hopelessness and cyberbullying and the role of values in this process. The necessity of study was conditioned by changes in interpersonal communication which is mainly provided through diverse gadgets. However, while facilitating daily life and communication, scientific and technological development frequently leads to some unexpected outcomes, such as cyberbullying.
The notion of cyberbullying is defined as “the repetitive use of information and communication technologies by an individual or a group in order to hurt other individuals” (Dilmaç, 2017, p. 1120). This phenomenon is frequently found among adolescents due to peculiarities of their psychological and social development. Teenagers who experience bullying develop negative feelings such as anger, fear, worry, shame, and hopelessness (Dilmaç, 2017). Thus, the research of factors influencing cyberbullying is a necessary step in addressing this problem. The hypothesis of the research was that values have the impact on cyberbullying and feeling of hopelessness, and hopelessness, in its turn, has an effect on cyberbullying. The research included 894 adolescents aged from 15 to 19.
The research revealed the fact that there is a negative linear relationship between the values of adolescents and their level of cyberbullying (Dilmaç, 2017). It can be interpreted in a way that the increase in adolescents’ values leads to the decrease of cyberbullying level. Another finding includes the positive linear correlation between hopelessness and cyberbullying level of adolescents. It means that the level of cyberbullying increases simultaneously with the level of hopelessness. Thus, it can be concluded that negative feelings have an influence on cyberbullying. Finally, the research proved that there exists a negative linear relationship between the values and hopelessness. Thus, as the values increase, the level of hopelessness is expected to decrease (Dilmaç, 2017).
Concept of Bullying in Social Psychology
Both research articles discover bullying as a phenomenon typical of adolescents. Cyberbullying, which became widespread in social networks, was attractive because of anonymity provided by the Internet. Nevertheless, the biggest social networks such as Facebook require real personal information which is one of the factors that can restrain bullying (Myers & Twenge, 2018). Bullying is closely related to such notions characteristic of social psychology as prejudice.
For example, gay-lesbian prejudice becomes a reason for homophobic bullying (Myers & Twenge, 2018). Bullying usually presupposes aggression. Social psychologists define aggression as “physical or verbal behavior intended to cause harm” (Myers & Twenge, 2018, p. 244). Bullying is considered to be a component of social aggression which, in contrast to physical aggression, does not hurt someone’s body. Unless it is stopped, bullying can lead to undesirable consequences including suicide. Social psychologists advise a close monitoring of children by both parents and teachers. This intervention is likely to reduce bullying and cyberbullying (Branscombe & Baron, 2017).
The importance of a teacher’s role in stopping or preventing bullying is supported by recent research including the investigation of Gregus et al. (2017). Branscombe and Baron (2017) also believe that school can influence bullying. For example, the authors suggest that introduction of certain “social referents” can significantly reduce school bullying because it changes the school norms. This intervention also presupposes making bullying a public concern. In fact, the final goal is to eliminate the idea that bullying is a typical school behavior.
Anti-Bullying and Social Change
Anti-bullying is a movement that presupposes social change. In fact, the reasons for bullying are social. According to Branscombe and Baron (2017), bullying at school develops as a consequence of the lack of supervision in an educational institution or by parents, unfavorable school atmosphere, or unsafe communities. Thus, the reduction or elimination of bullying is an important social concern. Anti-bullying movement brings in social change that has to become everyone’s concern.
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Thus, to avoid bullying, it is important to supervise the behavior of children in different locations such as playgrounds or educational institutions. Also, teachers should be trained to reveal and manage bullying. Another intervention is to involve parents into control over bullying providing them with the necessary information. Finally, the potential victims of bullying can be empowered with tools necessary to avoid victimization or know how to act in case bullying occurs.
On the whole, bullying is a burden of many contemporary schools. This phenomenon is not new and has been a concern of social psychologists for decades. At present, due to the development of information technology, bullying changes and moves to online communication becoming cyberbullying. Although it is a global problem, there are some interventions that can be useful in reducing the negative impact of bullying on adolescents.
First of all, more attention and constant monitoring from parents and teachers can contribute to the reduction of bullying. Also, teachers should be trained to be able to reveal and prevent bullying among students with specific anti-bullying techniques. Finally, students should be educated about the most important values because this intervention was proved to reduce bullying among adolescents. To conclude, it should be mentioned that the problem of bullying can be reduced only as a result of a complex approach and fruitful cooperation of school and family.
Branscombe, N.R., & Baron, R.A. (2017). Social psychology (14th ed.). Harlow, England: Pearson Education.
Dilmaç, B. (2017). The relationship between adolescents’ levels of hopelessness and cyberbullying: The role of values. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 17(4), 1119-1133. Web.
Gregus, S., Rodriguez, J., Pastrana, F., Craig, J., McQuillin, S., & Cavell, T. (2017). Teacher self-efficacy and intentions to use antibullying practices as predictors of children’s peer victimization. School Psychology Review, 46(3), 304-319. Web.
Myers, D.G., & Twenge, J.M. (2018). Exploring social psychology (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Education.