Bullying is behavior that can frighten or harm another person. Children who are engaged in this process, usually scoff at someone who is weaker than them, their actions are repeated.
Bullying can take many forms: 1. Physical harm, such as beating, pushing; 2. Emotional harm, for example, scoffing over how a child behaves, looks, talks. Writing hurtful things in the mail or online journals (blogs) is also considered as bullying.
Bullying is a very serious problem all over the world. Several large national and international servers, such as Bullying.org, Bullying Online, Stop bullying, Bullying.net are completely dedicated to that problem. There are national non-governmental organizations which deal with the problem, and appeal to children, teachers and parents.
Bullying is a global and mass phenomenon. According to the 1200 children who responded to the website KidsPoll, 48% of them were bullied by others, including 15% – more than once; and 42% and 20% – repeatedly bullied other kids. According to estimates of the American psychologist Anthony Pelligrini (1998) approximately 7% to 15% of kids are bullies, while their victims – from 2% to 10% of all school-age children. According to the U.S. investigation in 2001, the objects of which were over 15,000 students from 6 to grade 10, and 17% of them admitted that during the last academic year, they “sometimes” or more often were bullied by others, 19% of them bullied someone and 6% were both actors and victims of bullying.
According to most researchers, bullying includes four main components:
– it is an aggressive and negative behavior;
– it is carried out regularly;
– it occurs in relationships in which the participants have unequal power;
– such behavior is intentional.
There are two types of bullying: direct (physical) and indirect, which is also called social aggression. This behavior has its own age, sex (gender) and other psychological regularities (Wolke 2000).
Most often it is about relationships, emerging among children, but bullying is often practiced by adults. It is about not only and not so much about inequality of physical strength, but about the imbalance of power, allowing one child to subdue another one, and such an interaction between two or more children is repeated for a long time. Chronic acts of verbal and physical aggression towards the same victims, create stable relationships between them in which bullying at one pole is complemented by victimization at the other pole. This particular form of aggression is characteristic for middle childhood and early adolescents, and it is always directed against the same children. During the transition from primary to secondary school bullying is usually weakening, and the forms of its manifestation are changing.
Typical features of pupils who are likely to become bullies:
– They feel a strong need to dominate and subdue other kids.
– They are impulsive and easily enraged.
– They often behavior provocatively and aggressively toward adults, including parents and teachers.
– They do not feel empathy for their victims.
– Male bullies are usually physically stronger than other boys.
Typical victims of bullying also have their own characteristic features:
– They are shy, sensitive and closed.
– They are often anxious, not sure in themselves, unhappy and have low self-esteem.
– They are prone to depression and more often think about suicide.
– They often have no close friend and easier communicate with adults than with peers.
These mutually complementary properties are partly the cause and partly consequence of bullying.
However, there is another (numerically smaller) category of victims of bullying, the so-called provocative victims or bully-victims. These are children who have difficulties in studying, reading and writing and/or suffering from disorders of attention and increased excitability. Although these children are not aggressive by nature, their behavior often causes irritation of classmates. Teachers do not like them either, which makes them easy targets and victims of bullying and helps to perpetuate social and unfavorable psychological traits and behaviors.