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The behavior engaged in by bullies: bullying
Researchers accept generally that bullying contains three essential elements: “(1) the behavior is aggressive and negative; (2) the behavior is carried out repeatedly; and (3) the behavior occurs in a relationship where there is an imbalance of power between the parties involved.”
Bullying is broken into two categories: 1) direct bullying, and 2) indirect bullying, also known as social aggression. Direct bullying is the form most common to male bullies. Social aggression or indirect bullying is most common to female bullies and young children, and is characterized by forcing the victim into social isolation. This isolation is achieved through a wide variety of techniques, including: spreading gossip, refusing to socialize with the victim, bullying other people who wish to socialize with the victim, and criticizing the victim's manner of dress and other socially-significant markers (including the victim's race, religion, disability, etc).
Bullying can occur in situations including in school or college/university, the workplace, by neighbours, and between countries (See Jingoism). Whatever the situation, the power structure is typically evident between the bully and victim. It seems to those outside the relationship that the bully's power depends only upon the perception of the victim, with the victim being too intimidated to put up effective resistance. However the victim usually has just cause to be afraid of the bully due to the threat and actually carrying out of physical/sexual violence, or loss of livelihood. Bullying (in addition to ignorance) is behind most claims of discrimination in the workplace.
Types of bullying
- Main article: Types of bullying
Bullying is when someone repeatedly acts or says things to have power over another person. Bullies mainly use a combination of intimidation and humiliation to torment others. The following is some examples of bullying techniques:
- Calling the victim names; accusing the victim of uselessness in all of his or her pursuits
- Spreading gossip and rumours about the victim
- Theft of minor belongings of the victim's
- Demoting the victim without just cause
- Making the victim do what he or she does not want to do, using threats to ensure that the victim follows orders
- Cyberbullying through the use of various information technologies
- Repeated physical assault on a person, be it to his or her body or property
- Getting a victim into trouble with an authority figure, or incurring disciplinary action against the victim, for an indiscretion either not committed by the victim or for one that is exaggerated by the bully
- Making derogatory remarks about a person's family, (particularly mother) about one's home, personal appearance, sexual orientation, religion, race, income level, or nationality
Locations of bullying
Bullying can occur in schools, universities, families, between neighbours, and in workplaces.
Schools In schools, bullying usually occurs in areas with minimal or no adult supervision. Common places include the school bus, cafeteria, hallways between classes, bathrooms, and the school-yard during recess.
An extreme case of school-yard bullying is that of an eighth grader named Curtis Taylor at a middle school in Iowa who had been the victim of continuous bullying for three years, which included name-calling, being bashed into a locker, having chocolate milk poured down his sweatshirt and vandalism of his belongings. This drove him to suicide on March 21, 1993.Some bully experts have termed this extreme reaction "bullycide".
In the 1990s, the United States saw an epidemic of school shootings (of which the most notorious was the Columbine High School massacre). Many of the children behind these shootings claimed that they were the victims of bullies and that they resorted to violence only after the school administration repeatedly failed to intervene. In many of these cases, the victims of the shooters sued both the shooters' families and the schools.
As a result of these trends, schools in many countries strongly discourage bullying, with programs designed to teach students cooperation, as well as training peer moderators in intervention and dispute resolution techniques, as a form of peer support.
Since media coverage has exposed just how widespread bullying is, juries are more likely now to sympathize with victims. In recent years, many victims have been suing bullies directly for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and including their school as a defendant under the principle of joint and several liability. American victims and their families have other legal recourse, such as suing a school or teacher for failure to adequately supervise, civil rights violations, racial or gender discrimination or harassment, or other civil rights violations. Special education students who are victimized may sue a school or school board under the ADA or Section 504.
Bullying in schools (or other institutions of higher education) may also take the form of reduced grading, non-return of assignments, segregation of competent students by incompetent/non-performing teachers, for example, to protect the reputation of a college. This is so that their programmes and internal code of conduct are never questioned, and that parents (usually the ones paying the fees), are made to believe that their children are unable to cope with the course. Typically, these attitudes serve to create the unwritten policy of 'if you're stupid, you don't deserve feedback. if you're good, you don't need it.' Frequently, such institutions (usually in Asian countries) run a franchise programme with foreign (usually Western) institutions with the clause that foreign partners have no say in local grading or codes of conduct of staff involved on the local end. It serves to create a class of 'educated fools', people with degrees who have not learned to adapt to situations and create solutions by asking the right questions and solving problems.
- Main article: Bullying in schools
Workplace In the workplace, bullying is now one of the most contentious issues in the occupational health and safety arena.
However, with respect to workplaces, there are few localities that are governed by legislation which specifically targets workplace bullying. This is because lawmakers fear that those rules could be used as leverage in other industrial or interpersonal matters. Therefore most bullying claims are conducted under discrimination laws. In the United Kingdom bullying in the workplace is against the law under The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
- Main article: Workplace bullying
Cyberspace Cyberbullying occurs in electronic space. It "involves the use of information and communication technologies such as e-mail, cell phone and pager text messages, instant messaging, defamatory personal Web sites, blogs, and defamatory online personal polling Web sites, to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others." -Bill Belsey
- Main article: Cyber-bullying
Familial Bullying in the family is normally ignored by society unless it includes a form of physical/sexual abuse. Once it does, outside parties such as the police and social services can get involved if the victim speaks up, or if the abuse has gone too far
Neighborhood Between neighbours bullying normally takes the form of intimidation by nuisance behaviour, such as excessive noise to disturb sleep and normal living patterns, and reports to authorities such as the police for minor or made up incidents. The purpose of this form of behaviour is to make the victim so uncomfortable they move from their property. It should be noted that not all nuisance behaviour is bullying, as some individuals are unaware of other people's feelings and the havoc they are causing.
Military Bullying in the military may occur when a superior persists in negative behavior toward his or her inferiors. Some argue that this behavior should be allowed because the military is not subject to normal civilian laws. Since military bullying is shielded from open investigation, subordinates may commit suicide out of lack of legal recourse. Deepcut Barracks in the UK is one example of the government refusing to conduct a full public enquiry to possible military bullying. In some countries, ritual hazing among recruits has been tolerated and even lauded as a "rite of passage" that builds character and toughness; while in others, systematic bullying of lower-ranking, young or physically slight recruits may in fact be encouraged by military policy, either tacitly or overtly (see dedovschina). Also, the Russian armies usually have older/more experienced candidates abusing - kicking or punching - younger/less experienced soldiers.
- Main article: Bulling in the military
Effects of bullying
- Main article: Effects of bullying
Persistent bullying may have a number of effects on an individual, and in the environment where bullying takes place.
Effects on the individual include:
- Reactive Depression, a form of clinical depression caused by exogenous events
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Gastric problems
- Unspecified aches and pains
- Loss of self esteem
- Relationship problems
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Suicide (also known as bullycide)
Effects on a school include:
- High levels of truancy
- High staff turnover
- Disrespect for teachers
- High level of absence for minor ailments
- Weapon-carrying by children for protection
- Legal action
- Against the school or education authority
- Against the bully's family
- See Only Wayne - a racist bullying case study in a wiki-format, that illustrates some of the unfortunate effects of bullying on a particular school community...
Effects on the organisation such as a workplace:
- Loss of morale
- High level of sick leave absence for depression, anxiety and backache
- Decreased productivity and profit
- High level of staff turnover
- Loss of customers
- Bad reputation in industry
- Negative media attention
- Legal action
- Against the organisation for personal injury
- Against the organisation and individual bully under discrimination laws
Ways to prevent/stop bullying and strategic methods
A multitude of methods can be deployed in order to deal with or stop the effects of this behaviour from affecting the individual being abused. However, much of this can be very unsuccessful and may need fairly ingenious and/or devious solutions which often change because of the bully getting to understand ways around this tactic.
- Telling other people This is a situation in which the victim reports the incidents of abuse against them; however there are many problems with this method. There are often so many incidents that one cannot easily report a tremendous back-log of events they may have without people getting to the point of disbelief (for instance 1,460 cases of assault - roughly 3 times a day for approximately 12-15 months). Secondly, the person who is supposed to help can be a problem themselves due to incompetence and may refuse to listen.
However, telling other people may help and telling authorities such as police forces, certain charities (including the NSPCC) or parents, head-master etc can be helpful (but it may be advisable for one to protect their identity by remaining anonymous when reporting). If one authority fails to take actions, there are procedures for complaint against that authority such as using inspectors or independent bodies for complaining. However, some people can be ineffective advice givers when speaking to them by saying things such as "Punch his lights out" or "Ignore it" (person denies any responsibility for tackling this issue). Certain web-sites may carry procedures on how to tackle this abuse, like this one for instance [Government of Canada advice and information http://www.gov.mb.ca/stopbullying/listen.html]. Some websites may have contacts that give advice to people also on what to do.
- Fighting back This is something that can be a natural response (flight or flight) or a forced one. Although the abuser will often try to get the individual to fight back, possibly to intimidate them or to appear that they themselves are being victimised and are defending themselves from attack. Of course, one cannot allow themselves to be assaulted and means by reasonable force may be the only course of action to defend a person from injuries, this does not normally involve weapons. The use of self defence is a controversial issue and indeed in many situations, it may be appropriate; but like any battle, it can go pear shaped. Some fighting to can lead to some more severe injuries that seems to be present due to the fact that individuals are fighting so hard that they do not notice pain (common on the battle field) and can lead to horrific injuries. Although, the lack of pain can be useful as this allows the person to continue fighting without being repelled by pain.
The use of weapons by both sides, leads to more horrific injuries in most cases. It is generally accepted that once under attack, that an individual can fight back to defend themselves as this is the only means to over-power the attacker once the fight has commenced. This is in the same way a cornered animal, will fight when threatened as its only means of escape is straight through you (if you corner it). Self defence courses are available and instructors are often keen to enable a person to learn self-defence but they often make clear, the consequences of abusing this tool by abusing others with your learned skills. Such self defence training is known as martial art. However, most people will not recommend that this is the way to tackle this issue Usually, the larger and stronger the opponent is; the more likely they are to overcome you. But this is not always the case because you may have fought tactically (the general idea of martial art). Of course, one must take into consideration the fact that the enemy (particularly older people generally) can know more tactical methods of counter attacking.
- Tactical management
There are other ways that people can cope with this abuse also. For example, a person may decide that it is a good idea to take a dictaphone (small tape recorder) with them to show evidence of this bullying, but this is generally illegal in most countries (although most people would probably see it as being worth the cost).
Other methods are things such as putting school work into a brief case rather than a school bag to prevent the offender from vandalising school work and paper-work. This however, may come with a price (i.e. the bully uses the brief-case as a weapon by taking it from you and hitting you with it). Such objects may also be deemed unacceptable in a school for safety reasons, although there is no evidence of that. Money may be stored in the brief-case, but this only works if they do not force you to open the case to give them the money.
Other methods may be to lure them into a trap in which witnesses may be waiting. Witnesses may take pictures with mobile phone cameras or ordinary cameras as evidence and so forth.
Walking about with other friends as protection may scare the bully into avoiding you.
Make a record of the events as this may be able to be used to track down what is happening as evidence for making a complaint. Also record any actions from the people you talk to about this abuse, if there are reactions that you do not want such as being told off for complaining; write down who these people are and what they have done too.
Finding other victims may also act as evidence. Ask them to back you up!
Changing school or class-rooms are another way to avoid contact with these people.
- Legal action
Using your evidence, it may be possible to take legal action against the offender, possibly through sueing, claiming compensation, pressing charges, going to the media and so on. In the United Kingdom, such actions would be discussed with a legal adviser, solicitor or the citizens advice bureau. It is an offense to assault and hit people, sexually attack them, to use threatening behaviour, psychological abuse such as pestering and insulting, death threats, black-mail, defamation of character and so forth. People whom are responsible such as teachers can be fired for not doing their jobs if they are discovered to be allowing abuse to go on without it being investigated properly.
- The Fight That Never Ends by Tim Brown
- Bullying at Work: How to Confront and Overcome It by Andrea Adams
- The Bully at Work: What You Can Do. by Gary Namie and Ruth Namie
- Bully in sight: How to predict, resist, challenge and combat workplace bullying by Tim Field
- Bullycide, Death at Playtime by Neil Marr and Tim Field
- A Journey Out of Bullying: From Despair to Hope by Patricia L. Scott
- "Peer Abuse Know More! Bullying From A Psychological Perspective" By Elizabeth Bennett
- Aggressive behavior
- Antisocial behavior
- Bullying in academia
- Bullying in teaching
- Emotional abuse
- Physical abuse
- School bullying
- School violence
- Excellent set of links to bulying resources
- Bullying Online A UK charity
- Bullying and emotional intelligence
- ACAS Information on Bullying and Harassment at Work (go to "Our publications" and search for "Bullying")
- www.bullying.org "Where you are NOT alone!"
- Bullying in schools (Australia - schools)
- Bullying in schools (UK - schools)
- Just Fight On! (Bullying in workplaces)
- How to Stop Bullies
- Peer Abuse Know More!
- Canadian anti-bullying safety database
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