High school bullying manifests in more ways than one. It may be perpetrated through emotional, verbal, or physical abuse. Basically, those who bully their fellow students exert some level of subtle coercion on their subjects and do it repeatedly such that they dominate their subjects in a social or physical manner (Levinson, 2002, p. 1).
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Bullying is usually outlawed and discouraged in many schools in the United Kingdom (UK) but currently the country does not have any clear legal definition of the term (Oliver, 2003). However, other countries such as the United States (US) have a clear-cut definition of bullying and those proved to have committed the act usually face legal action at a school or state level.
High school bullying normally takes the form of group or individual domination over vulnerable targets and usually involves the witnessing of unfair acts by bystanders who most often condone such actions so that they do not become the next victims (Swearer, 2009, p. 4). Nonetheless, USA Today reports that:
“school children may not evaluate school-based violence (student-on-student victimization) as negatively or as being unacceptable as much as adults generally do, and may even derive enjoyment from it, and they may thus not see a reason to prevent it if brings them joy on some level” (p. 5).
This complicates efforts to tackle high school bullying because some students often see it as a normal occurrence and therefore do not collaborate or take part in initiatives to curb the vice.
It becomes extremely surprising that bullying is not only perpetrated by fellow students but by teachers as well. This often occurs because of the imbalance of power between students and teachers that which leaves room for subtle coercion from the teachers (Swanwick, 2010, p. 349).
This study further exposes this topic but with the assertion that bullying can only be stopped if student cooperation is fostered and if moderators are introduced into the school system so that dispute resolution can be easily enhanced. This study will however accomplish these goals in a professional context such that the contents of this study can be considered for publication in a professional journal.
Considering this unique goal, we will establish the professional journal to be considered and why it is appropriate for this study. Emphasis will also be made on the kind of audience to read this article because the contents of this study need to be at par with other similar articles in the journal to be selected. This therefore means that this article will be developed in close similarity to the similar articles in the selected journal.
To achieve a precise outcome, we will evaluate some of the existing articles in the selected journal to establish the development criteria for preferred articles. Lastly, we will also evaluate the author guidelines in the selected journal and in so doing; we will develop a list of guidelines that outlines this study.
The Journal of human behavior in the social sciences will be the journal of choice for this study. Considering the nature of bullying as largely a social issue, this journal will best accommodate such a problem because it seeks to analyze developing issues relating to human behavior at all cognitive levels (Routlege, 2010, p. 1).
Moreover, the journal will provide an outlet where other schools can learn about the underlying human/ student behavior issues that dictate or necessitate bullying in the first place. In detail, the journal analyzes the complexities associated with social work and even categorizes the different levels characterizing human relationships in a social environment (which can be easily compared to a school scenario).
The journal of human behavior encompasses up to date research on human behavior and incorporates only groundbreaking studies based on empirical evidences or theories which dictate human behavior (Routlege, 2010, p. 1).
The journal also explains the complexities of human behavior in a conceptual and empirical basis through the outline of existing study frameworks explaining human behavior. Articles are therefore initially descriptive in nature and then later diagnose and predict human behavior with the provision of possible explanations to human behavior (Routlege, 2010, p. 1).
For consideration by Taylor and Francis (the primary publishing house for the Journal of human behavior), a number of guidelines ought to be adhered to by all authors for their manuscripts to be considered for publication. Firstly, authors should present an unbiased work where certain social parameters like age, race, culture, sex and the likes are offered a significant degree of consideration (Routlege, 2010, p. 1).
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The final work should therefore be purely based on merit. Secondly, all developed works ought to be developed in an efficient manner and also submitted in good time and in the best possible quality (Routlege, 2010, p. 1). Thirdly, editors are at liberty to reject a given piece of work based on personal discretion.
However, in certain cases, the editor is also at liberty to consult with other stakeholders for a second opinion before a decision for consideration or rejection of manuscript is made (Routlege, 2010, p. 1). Fourth, the peer review process done to all research articles should be done with a high degree of confidentiality and lastly, all manner of conflict of interest should be exposed before consideration for publication (Routlege, 2010, p. 1).
Article Review and Target Audience
An article titled “Interprofessional Education for Practice: Some Implications for Australian Social Work” by Gosallie Pockett, cited in the Journal of Human behavior sets precedence for this study’s article because it explains the Australian education system that fosters cooperation between students and external social agents in creating a good learning environment for Australian universities.
The article identifies the importance of teamwork and its impact on socialization and acculturation of students in Australian universities. The article also further goes on to indicate where professional standards can be emphasized to increase collaboration and improve teamwork among students; more like what is needed to eliminate bullying in high schools.
This article will therefore be largely similar to the article about high school bullying (to be developed in this study) because it will outline specific areas where professionals in the education sector can consider in eliminating high school bullying (Taylor and Francis, 2010, p. 1).
The target audiences for articles from the Journal of human behavior are majorly social workers and policy makers. Teachers and other educational stakeholders fall into this category and are therefore suited as a good audience for this journal because they deal with a high number of students with variable personalities in a social set up (school) (Routledge, 2010, p. 1).
High School Bullying
Bullying has become a key concern in the public sector for decades now. There have been increased concerns from obvious quarters such as the general public and educational professionals of high school bullying; specifically because it affects the emotional well-being of students and the academic development of victims/perpetrators (Vernberg, 2010, p. 2).
In a study done on primary and high school students in the UK, it was established that about half of all primary school pupils and 54% of all high school students sampled, thought that bullying was a big problem for the British system of education (Sehgal, 2010, p. 3).
In related research, it was reported that about 60% of all students sampled thought their school was on the right track in tackling bullying but the rest thought that their schools either neglected or was on the wrong path towards eliminating bullying (Oliver, 2003, p. 2). Other studies report that some teachers are better at dealing with the problem than others (Oliver, 2003, p. 2).
This especially manifests through the way teachers listen to their students because some are good at it while others are not (Savage, 2009, p. 238). In addition to policy development, many educational professionals, teachers and parents alike have sat down in various school committees to come out with viable solutions to the ever-present problem of child bullying in high schools (Anderson, 2010, p. 3).
The government has also been on the forefront in coming up with viable programs such as Bullying: Do not suffer in silence and anti-bullying policies (Thompson, 2002, p. 115). However, the biggest problem even in the development of anti-bullying policies and programs is the neglect of student views. This deficiency has therefore left a gap in the understanding of high school bullying.
A study done by Child line international (a non-governmental organization group dealing with youngster issues) identifies that bullying manifests itself in various forms. Its manifestation was however representative of power imbalances between students which leads to situations of vulnerability and inequality among students (Oliver, 2003, p. 3).
Some social parameters were also identified as elements that dictated the level of student vulnerability such as physical appearance, race and such like variables (Oliver, 2003, p. 3).
The most common type of bullying identified the world over is name calling (Oliver, 2003, p. 3). Contrary to common belief, physical aggression does not stand out as much as verbal abuse. Verbal abuse currently manifests itself in various forms like the common habit of students spreading rumors or gossip about other children. However, this type of bullying normally goes on among students of lower forms (Shore, 2006, p. 3).
Physical aggression and name-calling is however more observed among older students.
A small number of students usually report certain types of bullying on the lines of racial or sexist comments but equally small minorities of students in lower forms are usually more engaged in name-calling, on the lines of sexual preferences; like gays are normally called derogative names because of their sexual orientation (Macklem, 2003, p. 45).
However, the level of bullying in such manner varies across the type of school, culture or setting involved. On gender grounds, recent research affirms that girls are equally vulnerable to bullying as boys but the nature of bullying varies across the gender divide (Sanders, 2004, p. 78).
In this manner, it has been affirmed that boys are usually more prone to physical abuse than girls but girls are more prone to bullying on sexual grounds than boys; with many girls purporting that they have often been inappropriately touched in a sexual manner (Geffner, 2001, p. 66).
Responding to Bullying
A significant number of schools are noted to ineffectively respond to bullying incidences, majorly because they adopt one-off initiatives as opposed to undertaking long-lasting relationships through influencing ongoing programs (Davis, 2007, p. 3).
A good initiative among school management is through appointing anti-bullying counselors or assigning different responsibilities to different individuals regarding the type of role to play in eradicating bullying in high schools.
Key concerns in the responsiveness of schools to bullying, rests on the approach teachers take in listening to student concerns (Oliver, 2003, p. 4). Good teachers are noted to express some degree of empathy in addition to dealing appropriately with student concerns.
Conversely, schools which have been identified to have a poor record at dealing with bullying are observed to deal with the problem majorly at assembly grounds and in school councils, in addition to taking student concerns lightly without first listening to the students.
The emphasis on teachers is especially important because most students express the fact that teachers often have a huge responsibility of presenting themselves as good examples to which students can emulate and confide in (Oliver, 2003, p. 5). Teachers can therefore respond better to bullying by setting a good example to the students.
Effective Responses to Bullying
In trying to establish the most preferred strategies to eradicate bullying from the students’ points of view, cultivation of friendships, avoidance, and taking matters into ones own hands are important strategies that can be used. These strategies are further analyzed below:
Standing up for Oneself
In a research study done to analyze the effectiveness of talking back to a bully, more than half of the young students sampled thought it was more effective for victims to talk back or be assertive to bullies (Oliver, 2003, p. 5). The most common type of assertion was verbal assertiveness.
This kind of strategy was deemed effective because it broke the continuous cycle of bullying where students were constantly targeted by certain individuals because of their vulnerability. In so doing, it was established that talking back in an assertive manner was likely to reduce the appropriate profiling of victims by a potential bully.
However, some observers point out that adopting such a strategy is likely to leave the victim vulnerable to more instances of bullying; especially involving physical harm (Oliver, 2003, p. 5). A large number of identified students almost entirely think such a strategy is fully practical.
Ignoring a bully is expected to work because of the dynamism of human behavior identified among bullies. In detail, this strategy is expected to work because the primary intention of bullies on their victims is to make them angry and reactive.
If a victim doesn’t express anger, the bully is likely to experience some level of dissatisfaction, which may potentially break the cycle of bullying. Nonetheless, it has been established that this strategy has its potential weaknesses because in extreme cases, a bully may go to extreme levels to seek a response from his/her victim by committing a grave act to the victims.
Victims therefore run the risk of experiencing worse types of bullinf if they ignore the bully in the first place. However, this strategy is expected to work because of the psychological satisfaction associated with bullies when they bully their fellow students.
For instance in name calling, a bully gets more satisfaction by watching the victim get mad bout it but if such a reaction is absent, it potentially becomes dissatisfying on the part of the bully if the victim becomes blind to such provocations.
Unlike earlier forms of strategies identified in this strategy, a significant number of students believe that standing up to a bully by hitting them back is a good strategy to end the endless cycle of bullying (Oliver, 2003, p. 6).
More specifically, students believe that hitting a bully back in the case of physical bullying or talking back in the case of verbal or emotional bullying is likely to deter bullies from further causing harm on the victims. This kind of sentiment is especially harbored among older students than in younger students (Oliver, 2003, p. 6).
Learning martial arts as a self defense mechanism is the number one strategy identified by students as the most appropriate form of self-defense against bullies. However, on a short-term basis, reacting to a bully in an unregulated manner is likely to deter a bully from further inflicting harm to a victim. Learning martial arts like karate, or self-defense tactics is therefore a long-term strategy in reducing the risk of bullying.
Nonetheless, this strategy enjoys varied support across gender lines because girls don’t give much support to it when compared to boys (Oliver, 2003, p. 6). Instead, girls, prefer a milder kind of strategy in tackling bullying.
This observation is almost replicated along racial lines because Asian and black children are normally observed to support the “violence with violence” strategy as a way to reduce the risk of bullying when compared to their white counterparts (Oliver, 2003, p. 6).
Some parents also support this strategy especially if they believe their children are not in a position to prevent instances of bullying or when school officials have neglected the issue altogether (Oliver, 2003, p. 6).
However, this strategy has its potential weaknesses just like the above-mentioned strategies because victims often risk suffering the risk of more violent attacks from bullies who are more determined to instill their superiority on their subjects.
Talking to Someone
Many students find it easy to talk to a friend when they are experiencing bullying from fellow students. However, it is established that students in lower forms are likely to talk to their mothers instead of fellow classmates or friends.
This fact has an implication on the type of policies or programs to be developed to curb bullying because policies and programs built around friendship networks are likely to be more effective than those built around other parameters such as teacher-student relationships (Smith, 2003, p. 165).
It is therefore established that if students have a strong network of friends, they are likely to wade off bullying tendencies much easier than students who don’t have the protection of such networks.
Friendship networks do not only provide a safeguard against bullying but also help victims cope better with bullying. In fact, there have been reports where students often don’t know how to cope with bullying and then end up taking their own life (Osborne, 2001, p. 1).
These are the kind of students who don’t share strong friendship networks because they lack the moral support from external parties (Garrett, 2003, p. 138). Friends have therefore been identified as the most important link to the success of anti-bullying campaigns because they are usually in a position to witness bullying in and out of the school.
In this context therefore, friends are better placed than adults and teachers in tackling bullying because they can provide the necessary support when needed. Moreover, students normally cite friends as easier to talk to when it comes to speaking out against bullying.
Some friends have even been identified to stand up to certain bullies on behalf of their friends and protect them from violent attacks. However, the biggest problem with involving friends is that they can be picked on by the same bullies when they stand up for their friends.
Seeking External Help
When students are faced with compromising situations or when they feel that they have no other alternative to dealing with bullies, external help from agencies like the police, or child services should be sought.
In as much as these agencies give the necessary help, some students often cite certain concerns with approaching agencies like child line because they may not really understand the kind of bullying they are going through in the local context.
The police have also been identified as a bureaucratic institution because students cite concerns such as going to court or the fact that the police would have to bypass parent involvement in tackling bullying (Oliver, 2003, p. 6).
Nonetheless, student counselors are a better pick than the police or child line services because they are better placed to understand bullying in the local context and can therefore give the necessary advice in tackling the problem.
The UK Child mental service has also been cited by many students as one of the most effective agencies in tackling bullying (Oliver, 2003, p. 6). These external agencies provide professional help for helpless victims of bullying.
It is clearly evident that before any agency decides to tackle the problem of bullying, they ought to understand the fact that students often engage in a process of risk analysis before they report bullying instances in their schools. However, there are no clear-cut solutions to the said problem because human behavior is largely unpredictable and different solutions normally work in different contexts.
This study has analyzed and provided remedies to the problem from a student point of view with the aim of representing what may actually work on the part of students (who are both the victims and the bullies). Collectively, this study points out that anti-bullying policies and programs may fail to materialize if they fail to acknowledge the intrigues that happen in the students’ social world.
In this manner, it is important that all stakeholders involved in tackling high school bullying engage the process from the “bottom-up” approach instead of the “top-down” approach. Moreover, students should be involved in every step of the policy making process because they offer the key to the sustainability of such initiatives.
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