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Why Does Bullying Happen?


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School and community –

  • Reflects the attitudes towards bullying in the wider community eg on the sports field, in parliament, 
  • Limited state legislation inadvertently condones school bullying or limits funding programs,
  • Restricted funding reduces training for teachers and limits implementation opportunities for schools to deal with it effectively.
  • Many school deny bullying and refuse to confront it,
  • Some schools pretend to care, show you their policy but don’t actually implement or intervene effectively when kids report bullying. They even allow staff to be bullied.
  • Many teachers are handicapped by a lack of support from senior management at their school.
  • Most schools don’t actively involve or assist the families who role model inappropriate behaviours to their children, influencing them to become targets, bullies or both.
  • Most schools allow teachers or parents to bully or vice versa, creating an inappropriate role model for their children. eg how can a bullied teacher help a bullied child?
  • Most schools don’t place formal expectations upon the onlookers/peer-group/ witnesses to intervene, challenge, report or support both targets and bullies. Many schools adopt the latest fashion in reducing bullying without considering an overall plan and evaluating it regularly,  or they use band-aid approaches.

Families

Bullies are bred in homes where inconsistent parenting patterns and inconsistent consequences and abusive, bullying behaviours become the role model. Some are spoilt children who never experience any behaviour boundaries. Some come from homes where there are so many problems that they are neglected emotionally or where the relationship between their parents is poor, stressful and even abusive. 

There are two main types of bullies, the malicious who have been born with psychopathic or sociopathic tendencies (their brains are wired differently to ordinary children eg they like hurting animals) and those who are basically non-malicious but use bullying behaviours.

They think:

Sadly, bullies end up being losers in a big way.

Society as a whole pays the price for their inability to relate to others in an assertive, empathic, respectful manner. They have a basic right to live a normal life, respected (not feared) by others and able to maintain healthy, rewarding relationships.

  • It’s a game 
  • I can get away with it
  • It will make me popular
  • They are so weak
  • It does not hurt
  • Everyone does it

The target:

  • Wrong place /wrong time
  • Does nothing
  • Reacts and becomes upset, angry, sad
  • Has poor social or assertive skills
  • Limited support network
  • Over protective parents
  • Not used to blocking mean kids
  • Special child
  • Don’t know how to stand up for themselves because they live in caring environments
  • Experience severe life stressors, (eg parents difficulties, financial problems) which interfere with their ability to develop social resilience and protect themselves.
  • Some children believe in justice and fight back. ‘How dare they tease me?’ ‘He started it.’
  • Sensitive children can expect others to treat them as
    carefully as their families do. But other kids don’t care how
    they feel and take advantage the target’s vulnerabilities to
    play the bully game.
  • Some expect to be treated with respect and regard to their feelings but have no interest in how they use, abuse or treat others. The other child retaliates and bullies back.

Injuries or Damage

1. The target can be affected at school

  • Girls become sad and boys become mad.
  • The target can be injured emotionally, physically, academically and socially.
  • They can lose motivation, concentration and their schoolwork suffers.
  • This may affect their choice of career.
  • They experience poor self-esteem, physical health difficulties, anxiety disorders, including panic attacks, depression, suicide attempts (some are successful) and posttraumatic stress disorder.
  • Bullying can lead to shyness, social isolation or a social phobia.
  • Children who are victims of bullying may become school refusers.

The damage can affect targets of school bullying later on.

  • The victim's choice of partner, career, social life, physical and mental health can be affected over a long period of time.
  • Adults who were severely victimised at school can be less successful in achieving satisfactory intimate relationships.
  • Some victims are bullied at work.

Damage to bully

  • Many bullies find it hard to cope with their studies in higher grades; they are more likely to drop out of school earlier.
  • Once the peer group have developed a sense of identity they associate with kids who respect equality in friendships. They abandon the bully because they don’t want to be bossed or bullied and be told what to do and say, what to wear, where to go or whom to befriend.
  • Many students want a career and want to achieve at school, thus the lazy bully can be forced to hang around other losers.

The bully’s future

According to Hara Estroff Marano, Psychology Today, (1995) research has found that many bullies embark on a 'downwardly spiralling course' for the rest of their lives because of their inability to deal with conflict and violence.

  • Their bullying behaviours can interfere with their learning, friendships, work, intimate relationships, income, physical and mental health.
  • They are more likely to become anti-social as adults and have difficulty creating close friendships.
  • Male bullies are more likely to batter and bash their wives, abuse their children, abuse alcohol and drugs.
  • Female bullies tend to lose their friends.
  • Bully dropouts are likely to have a criminal record by the time they are 24.
  • The bully who is successful in his career can be tripped up later on, when the impact is greater.
  • They are more likely to create another generation of bullies. 
 

 

Parents

  • Feel powerless when they are unable to protect their children.
  • It can remind them of their own school difficulties or other difficulties eg shyness.
  • Parents become very angry when schools don’t deal with it immediately or can’t do enough.
  • It can be a very traumatic experience for parents.
  • Become threatened if their parenting patterns are challenged.
  • Don’t always want to be referred for help.

Peers

  • Feel bad and guilty because they don't know what to do.
  • Fear that they will become the next target.
  • Torn between their friends.
  • Realise that the target may exacerbate the situation but can’t tell them or are not heard by the target.
  • Can’t confront the bullies.
  • Don’t want to be involved.
  • Can become a secondary victim or affected by poor class morale. 

The school

  • Does not like students leaving, poor morale, reduced class motivation to study, lower academic results, poor public relations, lowered school results.
  • In many schools a few students leaving due to bullying can equate to a teacher’s salary.

In summary:  

  • Schools have a legal and moral duty of care towards their students and an obligation to reduce all forms of bullying around the school.
  • Parents are responsible for teaching their children social survival skills or social resilience. Let's face it, when their child leaves school for the day or for good, bullying is everywhere, on the road, among their friends and at work!
  • All students need to develop their social and emotional resilience by developing their social survival skills. Then they can create true friendships, a supportive network and block teasing, bullying and harassment.
  • The peer group needs to know how to take action to protect vulnerable kids and intervene respectfully.
  • The target needs to learn how to communicate what they think, feel and would like. They need to distinguish between friends who care and those who don't. They need to look for true friends rather than belong to a popular group. They need to use their survival instinct to choose true friends and whom to avoid.
  • The bully needs to learn more effective ways of relating with
    empathy. They also need to learn how to show frustration,
    displeasure and disinterest in appropriate ways.

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