Bullying refers to the act of intimidating a person in order to make them do something against their will (McCarthy, 2001). It entails the use of cruel means that are geared towards making others feel weak, timid, or less superior. Bullying happens in the form of verbal abuse, inappropriate physical contact, or visual illustrations such as drawings. According to experts, bullying is one of the most widespread moral weaknesses in contemporary society. Some of the most notable places where cases of bullying are common include learning institutions, neighborhoods, workplaces, and social networking sites (McCarthy, 2001).
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Bullying, especially in schools creates poor learning environments that affect the proper development of children. Studies have established that bullying affects the emotional, physical, and social development of victims because they grow with certain fears. Victims of bullying have difficulties making friends, trusting people, having stable relationships, and understanding their emotions (Winkler, 2005).
Everyone in society has a huge role to play with regard to identifying bullies and their reasons for intimidating others, as well as coming up with effective prevention strategies. Some of the factors that contribute to bullying include poor parenting, economic challenges, lack of mentorship, and jealousy among others (McCarthy, 2001).
Types of bullying
Studies have established that there are numerous types of bullying. Bullies often target their victims depending on their race, skin color, educational background, physical appearance, disability, and sexual orientation (Lines, 2008). Others factors that are considered include the nature of their work, friends, and dressing style. First, there is physical bullying. It is a form of intimidation that involves physical contact with a target or their property. Examples of physical bullying include thumping, banging, tripping, pilfering, pushing, and breaking (Lines, 2008).
Second, there is verbal bullying. It entails the use abusive or inappropriate language towards someone in order to annoy or make them suffer. Examples of verbal bullying include teasing, racist remarks, insulting, and spreading false rumors. Third, there is relational bullying (Lines, 2008). According to experts, this form of intimidation involves actions or comments made by a bully in order to hurt the reputation and emotions of their target. Examples include shameful gestures, awkward jokes, mimicking, and exclusion from social groups (Lines, 2008).
Research has established that this type of bullying is hard to detect, very harmful, and more common among girls than boys. Fourth, there is cyber bullying. It involves intimidation directed to someone through social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Skype, MySpace, and Email (McCarthy, 2001).
Bullies often take advantage of the secrecy of virtual chat rooms to humiliate their targets because it is hard to know their real identities (Lines, 2008). This kind of bullying was first witnessed after the invention of the internet. As technology continues to develop, experts argue that the boundaries of bullying are likely to expand beyond manageable levels. Other notable types of intimidation include sexual, prejudicial, and verbal bullying (Lines, 2008). Bullying involves three parties namely the victims, bystanders, and the bullies.
Social psychological concepts of bullying
Bullying is a moral weakness that develops from the social life that individual experience, as well as the psychological perceptions developed with regard to behavior. One of the main concepts used to explain bullying is that of parenting roles and learned behaviors (McCarthy, 2001). According to experts, children develop their characters from the kind of environment they experience at home.
Children that grow in homes with quarrelling, aggressive, and emotionally unstable parents often start developing bullying tendencies early in their lives. Children learn a lot through observation. Therefore, parents should portray good behavior in order to be good role models to their children (Lines, 2008). The second concept used in explaining bullying is the social challenge of identity crisis and peer pressure in adolescents.
The strong desire by adolescents to have an identity pushes them to engage in activities that have the approval of members in social groups they desire to join (McCarthy, 2001). Bullies often go unreported because most bystanders fear going against the rules of their social groups and as such end up without friends. Experts define this behavior by adolescents as public compliance to normative influence (Lines, 2008). Adolescents have high regard for friendship and loyalty. This is the reason why bullying still characterizes the life of numerous social settings across the world.
The third concept used in explaining bullying is lifestyle exposure (Lines, 2008). Psychologists define lifestyle as a manner of living that reflects an individual’s values and attitudes towards life. Children learn by observing the things that people around them do and as such adopt their behaviors. Lifestyle is mainly determined by the ethical frameworks used by society in terms of differentiating right from wrong (McCarthy, 2001). Children exposed to a lifestyle that does not discourage bullying tend to continue with the culture even when they move into different environments.
Lifestyle can determine the values and attitudes that one develops in regard to respecting others, their property, emotional intelligence, and understanding the importance of personal space (Lines, 2008). Adults involved in the lives of children at different stages often contribute to the spread of bullying.
Social psychological perceptions that adults develop about bullying make it easier for bullies to intimidate their victims (Lines, 2008). Poor parenting skills that are characterized by high absenteeism contribute to development of bullying tendencies in children. This happens due to lack proper guidance, supervision, and role models (McCarthy, 2001).
Challenges faced by individuals and law enforcement agencies in regard to bullying
Dealing with bullying is one of the main challenges faced by directors of learning institutions, law enforcement agencies, and organizational leaders (Winkler, 2005). Research shows that the nature of bullying contributes a lot to the ineffectiveness of various elimination strategies.
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For example, cyber bullying is hard to eliminate because establishing the identity of a bully is extremely difficult. This is due to the ability of users to create fake profiles. Therefore, tracking culprits is very hard (Winkler, 2005). The second challenge associated with elimination of bullying is weak and poorly implemented laws. According to experts, weak laws that are poorly enforced often encourage criminal activities.
Slow and corrupt court processes also encourage the growth of criminal activities. For example, bullies often believe that they can get away with any crime as long as they have strong legal representation (Winkler, 2005). Poor enforcement of laws is a real stumbling block to efforts geared towards eliminating bullying. Contemporary forms of intimidation such as cyber bullying are hard to deal with because of factors such as the complex nature of the criminal justice system and establishing the degree of damage caused by a bully (Winkler, 2005).
Effective ways of responding to bullying
Bullying is a problem that all stakeholders, especially those in the legal field and the criminal justice system need to eliminate completely. The stakeholders can use a number of strategies to eliminate bullying from society and learning institutions. One of the strategies is developing policies that require all learning institutions to create anti-bullying programs. These programs should be geared towards helping students understand the negative effects of bullying, ways of identifying bullies, and the right ways of responding if one is victimized (Winkler, 2005).
School administrators should provide support and protection to all students in order to eliminate bullying completely. The second strategy that can be used is creating a campaign to sensitize parents on the importance of being supportive towards their children especially during the formative years when they learn by observing their behaviors (Winkler, 2005). Parents should be actively involved in their children’s lives by supporting and guiding them in the right manner. In addition, they should create an inclusive environment that encourages their children to express themselves with ease.
Bullying is a serious problem that has numerous negative effects on victims. Research has established that bullying affects emotional, social, and physical development of victims. Effects of bullying on children include dropping out of school, low self-esteem, depression, aggression, social isolation, and suicidal thoughts. Parents, guardians, teachers, and caregivers should play active roles in the lives of their children in order to keep them away from bad company and destructive activities. Everyone in society has a huge role to play with regard to identifying bullies and their reasons for intimidating others.
Lines, D. (2008). The Bullies: Understanding Bullies and Bullying. San Francisco: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
McCarthy, P. (2001). Bullying: From Backyard to Boardroom. New York: Federation Press.
Winkler, K. (2005). Bullying: How to Deal with Taunting, Teasing, and Tormenting. New York: Enslow Publishers.