Chapter 1 3
1.1 Introduction 3
1.2 Purpose of the Study 4
1.3 Theoretical Framework: Anomie 5
1.4 Significance of the Study 6
1.5 Research Question 6
1.6 Hypothesis 7
Chapter 2 7
2.0 Literature Review 7
2.1 Introduction 7
2.2 Definition of Bullying 8
2.3 Bullying in Schools 9
2.4 Theoretical Perspectives Regarding School Bullying 11
2.4.1 Biological Theories 12
2.8 Need for More Research 12
Chapter 3 13
3.0 Research Methodology 13
3.1 Introduction 13
3.2 Quantitative Research 14
3.3 Strategy of Enquiry 14
3.4 Sample in Quantitative Research 15
3.4 1 Questionnaire 15
3.4.2 Pilot Study 15
3.4.3 Participants 16
3.5 Interview Procedures 18
3.6 Research Journal 18
3.7 Confidentiality 19
3.8 Analysis 19
Chapter 4 20
4.0 Research Findings 20
4.1 Introduction 20
4.2 General Definitions of Bullying 20
4.2.1 Emotional Bullying 21
4.2.2 Function of Power in Bullying 21
4.2.3 Importance of Groups in Bullying 22
4.3 Impact of Appearance in Bullying 23
4.3.1 Weight 23
Chapter 5 24
5.1 Discussion and conclusion 24
5.2 Limitations of the Study 24
5.3 Implications for Schools 25
5.4 Implications for Future Research 26
6.0 References 28
7.0 Appendices 31
Education is today considered as a basic necessity to all children. The local, state, and federal governments, together with the school systems, are charged with the main responsibility of ensuring education is accessible to all children. Educational practitioners, including school administrators, headmasters and teachers, are required to establish safe and more comfortable atmospheres for the students. In addition, educational policies related to the teachers` capacity and curriculum development in accomplishing learning and teaching processes also demand that teachers establish good behavior and character among the students in schools. All together, the responsibility of the parents in controlling the behavior of the students while at home is very important. However, according to the studies, there is a significant population of the children that do not obtain education fully those that avoid school, attend but do not take part in learning, those that cannot learn as a result of various factors that drift their attention from normal class lessons, and those whose concentration and sense of security are hampered by other students (Coggeshall & Kingery, 2001).
1.2 Purpose of the Study
Bullying is becoming a global problem and can take place in any school. A survey conducted by the United States Department of Justice (2003) regarding the indicators of school crime and safety reported that both females and males aged between 12 and 18 were at a higher risk of being bullied, with the proportion of females being 7 %, while that of males being 9 %. However, it is worth noting that a previous survey that had been conducted in 1999 indicated no difference between the females and males as rates for both were 5 %. A study conducted by Druck and Kaplowitz (2005) documented that 60 % of students aged between 12 and 17 had observed as student bullying another one every day. Bullying may affect school attendance as students consider school as an unsafe place, thus negatively affecting their ability to learn. Furthermore, bullying is toxic to an atmosphere favorable for effective learning. Regardless of whether it is psychological or physical harassment, or a consequence of the harassment envisaged in poor attendance as a result of fear for safety, bullying is a problem that needs to be addressed. According to Maslow`s theory of needs, it is fundamental that the basic needs are satisfied first before the higher needs, like critical thinking and learning, are attained. It is, therefore, important to ensure the safety and security of the students at school. Limited formal research regarding bullying in schools has been documented globally, which makes it difficult to identify the real cause of bullying and appropriate measures that could be implemented to address it. This study, therefore, seeks to examine perceptions and definitions of bullying from the students` point of view, as experienced in school and to explore their understandings of how they manage to cope with experience, whether they were in the role of a victim, witness, or bully.
1.3 Theoretical Framework: Anomie
The concept of bullying has to be placed within a theoretical framework in order to generate a deeper understanding and to provide the opportunity for a more elaborate conceptualization of the concept, it`s likely origin, and lines of inquiry. Whereas social learning theories, functionalism, and biological theories offer theoretical frameworks that can offer some explanations regarding bullying. Durkheim`s anomie offers an explanation that shifts focus from a single person to the society.
Shoemaker (2000) highlights that one of the hypotheses concerning anomie is that the institutions and structure of society are supposed to exist in disorganization or disarray. Despite the fact that this disorganization or disarray may not be happening currently in the highly regulated and accountable school systems, it may be happening within the society. An example of anomie within the school could be lack of clarity regarding rules, consequences, and expectations, which, according to Morrison and Skiba (2001), increase antisocial behavior. In addition, it has also been reported that minimizing the students` feelings of isolation and enhancing feelings of association to the school reduce the acceptance of and possibility for violence. Therefore, when there is a connection to the society or a larger institution, there is less anomie, which means that regulations are established to direct the actions of the individuals within the society. Attaining an understanding regarding when and where there is anomie and how this is perceived by the students may help in determining when and where bullying takes place in schools.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The significant goal of this research is to enlighten teachers and add some advice on how to help in tackling the bullying issue in schools. It is expected that teachers who have a greater understanding of bullying in schools have the capacity to minimize these incidents and help create safer learning atmospheres for their students. Moreover, offering students with a safe learning environment may improve academic attainment and increase attendance. The expansion of an understanding regarding bullying in school, along with its consequences on the students, may be partly attained by exploring the perceptions of the students regarding bullying, together with their views concerning the roles of the administrators and teachers in these events.
1.5 Research Question
It is important to note that the main aim of this study is to examine the perceptions of the college students regarding bullying as they experience in school and explore the understanding of the students about how they have managed to deal with the experience. This research attempts to answer several questions, and the core questions of the dissertation are:
* What perceptions do college students have concerning bullying?
* What are their definitions of the concept “bullying”?
* Hypothesis 1a: There exists a positive correlation between bullying and aspects, such as size, weight, clothing, and placement in special education.
* Hypothesis 1b: There exists a negative correlation between bullying and aspects, such as size, weight, clothing, and placement in special education.
* Hypothesis 2a: Teachers have to play a role in bullying.
* Hypothesis 2b. Teachers do not have to play any role in bullying.
* Hypothesis 3a. The bullies and bullied have to play a role in bullying.
* Hypothesis 3b. The bullies and bullied do not have to play a role in bullying.
2.0 Literature Review
This chapter reviews the documented literature regarding school bullying. However, most of the scholarly literature related to bullying does not consider bullying as a solitary topic, but it is commonly attached with violence. Despite the fact that these subjects are always considered to be broad in scope and can be examined separately, they will have to be addressed simultaneously in some cases. Therefore, when violence and bullying are addressed mutually in this chapter, it is due to the fact that scholarly articles have outlined the two aspects as being closely related. Howell (1997) states that there exists a connection between violence and bullying in schools. This is so considering the cases of the reported school shootings, whereby the main perpetrators have been acknowledged as being sufferers of bullying (Aronson, 2000). There is a common hypothesis within the literature claiming that the experiences of being victims of bullying at times result in the acts of violence as a form of reprisal.
To begin with, a discussion of the meaning of bullying is provided in order to highlight the key descriptors of the study. A review of literature examining the possible theoretical explanations regarding school bullying will also be discussed. After the theoretical explanations provided, the review will examine three main components regarding bullying, which include the prevalence of bullying in schools, incidents of bullying in schools, and measures that could be adopted to help prevent school bullying.
2.2 Definition of Bullying
Bullying is always outlined as a form of behavior that could be easily acknowledged when people experience it. It is necessary to note that bullying can be experienced by any individual, regardless of the age, and can take place at any place, for instance, workplace, school, or even at home. So far, defining bullying has been a challenge as it is associated with both a wide range of behavior that constitutes bullying, as well as the characteristics of bullying behavior. Conversely, most of the definitions commonly applied were adopted by Erling (1989), bullying is defined as long standing violence, psychological or physical, carried out by a group of the individuals directed against an individual who has no ability defend himself / herself. Basing on the same thoughts, Olweus (1991) considers bullying as repeated, negative acts over time, such as kicking, locking inside a room, hitting, threatening, teasing, and saying unpleasant s well as nasty things.
According to Rigby (2008), bullying is viewed as a systematic exploitation of power within interpersonal associations. This implies that bullying is when an individual is harassed by time or an individual that has more power in terms of either social standing or physical strength. The misuse of power is not limited to certain authority or managerial positions, but most people have the capacity to use power to rule over somebody. This, therefore, means that there exist imbalances in psychological and physical strength between a victim and a bully. Concerning the detection of bullying, a study conducted by Olweus and Solberg (1998) highlights some common characteristics that could be used to identify bullying behavior. The same study states that bullying is often recognized when an individual or a group of people continually speak or do unpleasant and painful things to a person who cannot defend himself / herself. When talking of the terms unpleasant and painful, Olweus and Solberg (1998) refer them as indirect and direct bullying. They claim that the unpleasantness and pain may occur as a result of direct bullying, such as kicking, sneering and offensive threat or comments, hitting, and insults, whereas indirect bullying, though painful just as direct bullying, is the experience of being publicly excluded or isolated from the others (Olweus & Solberg, 1998). From this definition, there is a reasonable presupposition that there is a psychological element in almost all forms of bullying.
2.3 Bullying in Schools
The increasing cases of bullying in schools today has captured worldwide attention among school authorities, the media, parents, and the researchers who are concerned about the safety and wellbeing of the students (Moon, et al., 2001). School bullying is a universal problem that poses negative consequences for the entire school atmosphere, and for the students` right to learn in a safe setting without having to fear. This widespread problem is the most less-reported safety predicament within schools. Until lately, most of the research studies regarding bullying were basically concerned with bullying in schools though, other perspectives of bullying have also been researched widely. This is because bullying becomes a daily and common occurrence among students during school age. Bullying most often occurs during elementary school and reduces during middle school, but increases in high school. Various studies have been conducted concerning the phenomenon of school bullying. The first research regarding this issue was carried out by (Moon, et al., 2001), a Scandinavian researcher, who performed a systematic study in Swedish and Norwegian schools and established that a significant population of the students experienced bullying in school. The same study found out that about 7 % of the students in the sample took part in bullying, and between 15 % and 5 % of the students drawn from different grades reported being victims of bullying. This also implies that about one out of every seven students is engaged in bullying activities with the level or regularity, either as a victim or a bully (Moon, et al., 2001). Studies related to school bullying have also been carried out in various nations such as Canada, South Korea, Austria, Japan, United States, Italy, England, and China, and have reported comparable or even higher percentage regarding the samples of students engaged in bulling activities (Moon, et al., 2008). Basing on such studies, it can be seen that school bullying has become a worldwide phenomenon. Despite the fact that most of the formal research regarding school bullying has been highly discussed in the countries where the research has been conducted, it is important to note that the problems associated with school bullying have been reported and discussed anywhere there exists a formal schooling setting. Most of the findings regarding this phenomenon indicate that bullying consists of direct behaviors including, threatening, stealing, taunting, hitting, and taunting that are instigated by other students against the victim. To add on to the direct attacks, bullying can also be experienced indirectly, for instance, making a student to be isolated socially through deliberate exclusion (Olweus & Solberg, 1998). However, despite the fact that bullying can be either direct or indirect forms, it is worth noting that the main component of bullying is that the psychological or physical coercion happens over and over again to generate a continuous pattern of abuse and harassment (Rigby, 2005). To allow bullying to go on in schools without employing any intervention will most likely generate serious risks to students and enhance this phenomenon, which is considered to have adverse impacts on academic performance and life of the students.
2.4 Theoretical Perspectives Regarding School Bullying
Some studies have been conducted to establish theories examining the most likely causes that lead to bullying behavior. However, it is important to note that theories are often developed to help generate explanations regarding the world we live in. Therefore, if bullying is considered to be a barrier to effective learning, explanations are required to help generate a deeper understanding regarding this phenomenon. Almost all of the theories that have directly addressed the issue of school bullying link violence and bullying together therefore, the two topics have been examined together in this study. However, it is worth highlighting that the existing literature regarding school bullying and violence offers very limited theoretical explanations regarding these phenomena. This is why more focus has been directed towards theories of delinquency. School violence and school bullying are all treated as delinquent acts hence, it is reasonable that delinquency theories are applied in exploring the two topics from a theoretical perspective. Apparently, taking into account the fact that theories have to be drawn from the field of juvenile delinquency since more and more focus is being directed towards school violence and bullying, it is necessary to mention that there is a need to come up with theories, to help explore these phenomena, along with their intricacies in the future. A number of theories will be explored in this study: biological theories, functionalism, social disorganization theory, social learning theory, and anomie.
2.4.1 Biological Theories
In his discussion regarding conduct disorders, Kauffman (2001) highlights that genetic, as well as other biological factors contribute to the most serious incidents of conduct disorder. However, the recognition of a biological ground in milder cases appears to be less clear, and the context also contributes to the problem (Kauffman, 2001). The two most commonly sought after biological theories include inheritance theory and somatotype theory. Empirical findings suggest that somatotypes or body types can be linked to an individual`s behavior and character .The main presupposition is that the general body shape is correlated with the behaviors and character that are associated to delinquency. Compared to the inheritance theory, this explanation is considered more specific, as inheritance theory argues that delinquency is a behavior that is inherited, and presupposes that an individual`s behavior is contingent on the factors present at birth, which are biologically transmitted from the parents.
2.8 Need for More Research
Despite the fact that research on school bullying and violence covers various fields, more research is required to help tackle some of the most significant questions. To start with, the present self-survey research appears to be more quantitative, looking for basic information. A lot of helpful information can be obtained from the insights and experiences of the students, instead of just the basic facts. Second, the available research does not seek to consider the students` definition and perceptions of school violence and bullying. The perceptions of the bullies could help illustrate how the victims are identified, whereas the victims could explain why they were targeted. Students` perceptions could also help in evaluating how administrators and teachers address school bullying and violence. Third, most of the current studies concentrate on the psychological explanations and neglect the likely social factors. The society comprises numerous facets that influence everyday lives, and neglecting such factors may lessen the chances of eradicating the problems of school bullying and violence. A number of avenues could be explored in an aim to help students attain quality education. However, it is a priority to analyze their input to alter with the long existing culture that is grounded on many influences.
3.0 Research Methodology
The most important goal of the study is to examine school bullying from the perspective of the students. This is because that the psychologically and physically bullied, as well as the bullies are believed to have considerations that should be listened to if this problem is to be addressed. This study will apply quantitative research that will seek to collect and analyze data using the quantitative research techniques. This chapter deals with the research method, the respondents and instruments, as well as the statistical treatment of the collected data.
3.2 Quantitative Research
Quantitative methodology is adopted for this study considering the fact that, as Rossman and Rallis (1998) asserted, there are little facts that make up universal knowledge to a certain extent, there are various perspectives regarding the world. Therefore, by analyzing the opinions, theories, and considerations of the individuals who have experienced incidents of bullying, various perspectives are obtained that can advance the understanding of bullying. As noted from Rossman and Rallis (1998), quantitative research provides the greatest assurance of generating substantial contributions to the practice and knowledge base of education as it is focused on applying the mathematical models, hypothesis and theories regarding the phenomena. This study is basically concerned over the opinions and perspectives of the students regarding a firsthand experience on bullying, whether they were in the role of the victim, bully, or witness, and aims at clearing out what is their definition of bullying.
3.3 Strategy of Enquiry
Biographical research is applied as the strategy of enquiry. This is the study of the individual`s experiences disclosed to the researcher or identified in archival material or documents (Rossman and Rallis, 1998). Examining the perceptions of the students regarding their experiences with bullying, the study explores the relative significance students express to such issues. An important aspect to note is that the majority of the victims of bullying are still disturbed by their previous experiences, and recalling such experiences generates insight that could be applied in addressing this issue in schools
3.4 Sample in Quantitative Research
A number of sampling procedures are applied for quantitative research. Rossman and Rallis (1998) highlights that, sometimes it is beneficial to choose sampling methods, which provide room for the identification of samples with diverse experiences. To directly tackle the research questions, a study conducted by the University of Nebraska, individuals considered to be information rich were sampled, through the criterion sampling. Basically, criterion sampling entails studying and reviewing all cases that give surety of some preset criterion of the study. The study`s criterion was the experience of the participants regarding bullying. However, identifying a lot of information given by participants helps reveal some of the major weaknesses of the system that could be improved. From the existing studies, it is apparent that the system improvement is required. Therefore, the findings of this study are anticipated to help in improving schools.
3.4 1 Questionnaire
The study developed questionnaires to help identify possible participants. The participants` responses generated insight regarding who satisfied the criteria of having adequate experience regarding bullying, either indirectly or directly. Prompts were provided to help in identifying the participants as victims, witnesses, bullies, or any combination, to be used in the study.
3.4.2 Pilot Study
The main aim for conducting the pilot study was to review the interview questions, the questionnaire and prompts, and assess their usefulness. The participant was a university student selected from the recreational sports team. The study used one participant during the pilot study due to the fact that the findings portrayed enough regarding the cases of bullying in a single life of a student to affirm the use of interviews and questionnaire. The participant recollected most of the bullying incidents he witnessed taking place at a medium-sized male private school located within the urban community.
The study interviewed college students of between the ages of 21 and 23 years. Students were actively enlisted, comprising both men and women from different ethnic and racial groups who went to private and public high schools. The participants were able to give an account of their experiences, together with the feelings generated by such experiences, and the effect such experiences have brought to their general view of the school life. This population was also used because they were not in the lower grades where cases of bullying were rampant. During the interviews sessions, the participants were not allowed to face the teachers as their actions or inactions were questionable. They were also not allowed to face those who tortured them. However, there have been several concerns regarding the legitimacy of self-reports, along with the fear that participants are currently living under conditions of violence, and bullying might provide false information for fear of having their opinions and views used against the others or themselves (Coggeshall & Kingery, 2001). The anonymous self-report data is also beneficial as it can help in revealing violence hot spots, common forms of violence, and how familiar students were with school rules. However, the use of college students provided the assurance that concerns regarding the revelation of information were unlikely to affect the collected data.
Participants were picked from various classes, considering the age of the students. There were only few cases where college students under the age of 21 years were interviewed. The study did not exclude these students due to the fact that they could provide valuable information for the study. Moreover, the concept of the research topic was shared with some of the students, and with the instructors` permission, brief questionnaires were distributed which required students to give their views regarding bullying, based on their previous experiences, whether in role of the victim, bully, or witness.
A total of 300 questionnaires were completed, requiring students to state whether or not they experienced or witnessed bullying in school, as bully or victims. They were asked whether or not they wanted to take part in the study and share their experiences. The representative sample for the study would then be drawn from the 300 students who filled out the questionnaires. The questionnaire data was, therefore, analyzed in order to help identify those willing to participate in the interviews. Basing on the questionnaire data, more students were found to feature in more than just one role. Furthermore, from the tally of the questionnaires, the students meeting the criterion of taking the role of either the victim, bully, or witness and ready to take part in the interview were picked up for the interview.
A total of 41 participants were selected for the interviews, providing room for an in-depth study. The target of this study was to obtain an equal number of participants, in terms of those taking the role of the victims, bullies, or witness. The initial results of the survey indicated that, 21 reported having been victims, 35 reported having witnessed cases of bullying, while 13 accepted they had bullied. To some extent, the target of having equal representations in all the categories was attained as some participants did not provide their self-identities as far as bullying is concerned, though their interviews depicted them as being either bullies or victims.
3.5 Interview Procedures
The study applied semi-structured interviews. Basing on the application of semi-structured interviews aimed at directing the conversation, and enables the participants to give important information an understanding of the details regarding the experiences of the people from the point of view is attained. The use of semi-structured interview also illustrates how individuals` experiences interact with powerful organizational and social forces that pervade the settings in which people work and live.
A number of interview questions were used in this process. Basically, the interview questions required the participants to give their previous encounters with bullying. Their perceptions were extracted and recorded in order to evaluate their experience with bullying. The term bullying, had to be mentioned at the final part of the interview to allow them give their definitions of the term.
3.6 Research Journal
A research journal was maintained all through the process of data collection and analysis. A journal entry was made after each interview, enlisting notes about the perceptions of the participants, as well as how they spoke and behaved while being interviewed. These notes helped in recalling the meanings and concepts provided during the interview process, and the list comments and distractions was significant to the findings. However, considering the fact that this was a subjective data source, all personal impressions was recorded since it was important for the process of analysis. This allowed the recording of notes concerning what should be protected against regarding subjectivity while conducting the analysis. It is obvious that there were negative subjective responses about the bullies, thus recording such views and feelings ensured the incorporation of the perceptions of the researcher into the study. Emerging themes and patterns during the interview process were recorded in the journal, which was evaluated during the process of analysis.
Considering the fact that it is a sensitive topic, interviews were carried out in a private office, ensuring participants are comfortable, with minimal distractions. An agreeable date was established together with participants through phone calls. Participants were allowed to give their e-mail addresses on the questionnaires. However, those who could not be reached through the phone calls, e-mails messages were sent asking potential participants to call or reply through the address provided. Participants were given fictitious names, and their names provided in the transcripts were deleted or changed. Besides, this information was stored in a secure place.
Having obtained the participants` permission, the interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed word for word. A few notes were taken, though limited, to help in transcription and accuracy. Basically, the transcriptions had to be analyzed basing on the comparative method. According to Rossman and Rallis (1998), this method entails taking information obtained from the collected data and comparing it to upcoming categories. The comparisons are carried out all through the process of data collection in order to allow the collection of more data. The process of data analysis enables the researcher to refine probes and interview questions as required and to concentrate on the responses that are similar to the ones described by other participants. The comparative method allows comparing the research sites, conducting theoretical sampling, and checking upcoming concepts with the further fieldwork.
4.0 Research Findings
The results of the interview analysis are represented in this chapter. A number of themes were identified within the data, which include: definition of bullying, role of appearance in bullying, prevention of bullying from the students` perspectives, and their reflections of the previous regrets and experiences regarding bullying. The study aimed to examine the perspectives of the college students regarding bullying and provide their definitions of it. To obtain this aim, the interview questions were developed regarding the experiences of the participants with bullying, and how they classified and defined it. However, it was necessary to understand the definitions offered by the participants regarding bullying, so as to be able to grasp the notion of bullying fully. From the analysis of the definitions provided by the participants, four sub-themes were identified: the general definitions including both verbal and physical bullying, emotional bullying, function of power in the issue of bullying, and function of groups.
4.2 General Definitions of Bullying
These focused on how verbal and physical bullying was defined by the students. Essentially, students provided almost similar definitions. One of the participants, Kelly, when asked to define bullying, replied: “I am not sure, but I think this refers to psychological, physical, or mental pain, or insult caused to another individual… just any form of insult without a clear cause.” Another participant, Becky, provided a broader definition: “Bullying is when an individual walks over another in order to make them subjects.” Gloria defined bullying, noting: “Bullying is a form of, I am not sure, but I think it is like joking about an individual on his / her face, yeah, like a form of insult. It could involve gossiping, stealing from the person, or ganging up against the person to make him or her feel threatened. This can be a physical threat or verbal such as mimicking another student with the aim of making the student feel bad.”
4.2.1 Emotional Bullying
A number of participants agreed to the fact that physical bullying is painful and merit remembering as opposed to verbal bullying. However, some participants included the emotional aspect in their definitions. While providing an answer regarding bullying and how it could be classified, Harris replied: “A person going out of his / her way to ruin another person`s day.” Answering the same question, Paul noted, “This means generating the feeling of discomfort to an individual, either emotionally or physically.
4.2.2 Function of Power in Bullying
Apart from outlining the different forms of bullying, verbal, emotional, and physical, some participants made reference to the element of power in bullying. Caleb, in defining bullying stated: “I consider bullying as an act of intimidation carried out by a person to another person, whether it is emotional, verbal, or physical. It is about dismantling the individual`s psyche from apex to base inflicting a mental record, the victim will always recall whenever he or she meets the bully.” From this definition, it is evident that there is the aspect of psyche destruction, and how cases of intimidation plays a role in the manner in which the bully may be viewed by the victim in the future, putting the bully on unending position of power.
From the definitions, the role of power is consistent, which is considered as way of exerting control over other people. This is illustrated in the pie-chart below:
The Role of Power in Bullying.
4.2.3 Importance of Groups in Bullying
While giving their definitions regarding the concept of bullying, some students incorporated the aspect of group dynamic into their definition. However, the number of the students who stressed this aspect was small though, its mention created the urgency to seek more clarification. The role of groups was highlighted by Patrice stating: “When this was done by one person, the impact was not that bad, as opposed to when this was done by four or five people in unison.” When asked the role of groups in bullying, Frank stated: “Bullying most often takes place in groups. Even though one person might step up and do the act, there could be a higher possibility that he or she has a network of friends for support. Like I can recollect, we used to be a group of six boys and we used to bully the others and share the jokes in the evening.” According to Ursula, “Most often, groups of kids would gang up and attack or make fun of another kid. I mean this can even be done for no apparent reason.” Randy acknowledged the fact that he got used to participate in bullying with some of his friends, and explained what his role was, “I had a minimal role. I just joined them in going against a certain individual. I personally enjoyed it and I don`t consider it as bullying. But I don`t know how the individual we were making fun on felt at that time and even later on.”
4.3 Impact of Appearance in Bullying
While recalling their experiences with bullying, a theme came up, which we defined as appearance. It consists of a number of sub-themes noted during the interview process. These include: weight, size, and clothing.
While conducting the interviews, participants were required to give an example of at least one incident they could recollect. Most of the participants discussed picking on an individual due to weight matters. Some students acquired insulting nick names due to their weights. More than a third of the participants interviewed reported being harassed or harassing the others as a result of their weight.
5.1 Discussion and conclusion
This research indicates that students` perceptions must define bullying for coming up with significant and effective measures to address it. To come up with an effective program, it is paramount to understand what it is from the real victims of such acts. Furthermore, this study indicates that students are coming to understanding that bullying is not an individualized activity, but something that is supported by the actions or inactions of the group, as supported by precious studies. Education regarding the role of groups in bullying may help tackle this problem since students are empowered to control the activities of the groups, hence, helping reduce such incidents.
5.2 Limitations of the Study
This research looked into the perceptions of 41 students. However, despite the fact that this number generated an in-depth data source, it does not allow generalization to the entire population. Their views and considerations cannot represent the diversity existing within most schools. In addition, there is also limited capacity for the recall an individual possesses. The study required participants to recall their previous experiences with bullying, and it is, therefore, difficult to tell what might have been disregarded due to the restricted amount of information that could be recollected over time, and the precision of the memories. Furthermore, the participants may have concealed some information in order to protect themselves. Some could have bullied more, or taken the role of the bully, but could not relay this to the researcher.
5.3 Implications for Schools
There is a need for the students to develop certain strategies to help create a positive self-concept, something that can actually be developed in schools. Students who end up being victims of bullying due to their weight, size, or clothing have to be taught on how to appreciate themselves, which gives them the confidence to detest such behaviors. One approach teachers could adopt to help develop self-concepts is through preventing verbal bullying. This can be attained by punishing students giving the others nick names that are based on their appearances. Self-concept can also be developed through the curriculum, whereby students can identify characters in similar conditions and how they dealt with the situations they were in. Additionally, a societal justice curriculum could be implemented to address issues of injustice, inequality, and power, to allow students to gauge their actions. Students could also be provided with a curriculum that is grounded on critical literacy, to enable them to evaluate the activities, materials, and processes around them. This can actually help students to look at things in a new way.
The definitions of bullying provided by the participants offer administrators and teachers better understanding concerning how students perceive it and are going through. This may generate insights that could support the schools efforts in addressing bullying. This understanding can also make school administrators and teachers more aware of the intricate dynamics entailed in the notion of bullying, which can help in developing effective ways to reduce this issue, thus proving a safe and conducive leaning environment. Furthermore, studies have indicated that most of the school shootings and violence have generated from the culprit being bullied. Thus, addressing school bullying can help minimize such extreme incidents Students should also be allowed to engage in conversations with respected peers and adults who can convey their experiences concerning bullying. This can help students understand the regrets an individual may have for bullying the others.
5.4 Implications for Future Research
Apparently, students engage in bullying at elementary, middle, as well as high school for various reasons, but the main question is, at what particular time does it start? To generate a better understanding of this phenomenon, that is important to establish when and how it starts. It is also apparent that clothing was mentioned as one of the reasons for bullying, particularly in middle school and not in the elementary grades. It is, thus, important to find out the specific stage when students begin to recognize the role of clothing. Future research should be carried out to examine the effectiveness of the professional development of the teachers regarding bullying. This would help provide direction regarding which forms of the professional development create the greatest opportunity for reducing and identifying incidents of bullying. It is also important to understand how teachers put into practice whatever they gain from professional development, so as to explain its effectiveness and the ability of the teachers to understand whether they are taught. More research should also be done to assess the effectiveness of the programs dealing with bullying or those that are aimed at establishing environments where bullying does not occur, for instance, Character Counts. This will enable schools to address bullying more effectively.
It is also important to conduct further research to understand who gets bullied explicitly. It is very important to identify the potential victims and doers if such incidents are to be addressed in schools. Some factors suggested by the participants are worth being conducted an in-depth analysis. Data obtained in this study also indicates that other students stand up for the ones who get bullied, thus, it would be significant to get such characteristics to allow educators identify ways to integrate such characteristics into various curriculums.
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What is your gender? (Please tick where appropriate )
2. What kind of high school did you attend?
Have you ever been picked on, harassed, or bullied in school?
4. Have you witnessed another student being picked on, harassed, or bullied?
Have you ever participated in picking on, harassing, or bullying other students?
6. What are the forms of discipline procedures carried out on students fighting in school?
Are you willing to take part in an interview regarding your previous experiences with bullying?
If Yes, please, offer the following information:
If No, thank you for taking time to answer the above questions.
7.2 Interview protocol
1. What was school like when you started? How was it like at high school? (Where was the school situated? Please describe how the surrounding communities were like. What were the students` populations?)
2. What was the feeling like, having to go to school every day? Did these feelings change with time?
3. Where did you spend your time before and after school? Please give an explanation.
4. Please describe how the interactions were like in your school. Were there any differences in such interactions? Are you able to tell about them?
5. What do you think of the students who sued to pick on, or harass the others in school?
6. How does teasing and picking on work? (Could there be any specific reasons as to why someone would be picked on or harassed? Can you describe the students who harassed or picked on others?)
7. Please describe the victims of teasing and harassment. (What made them targets and who were they?)
8. What was your role in such activities? (Have you ever been teased? Have you witnessed someone being harassed? Have you participated in teasing someone?)
9. How would you classify and define bullying in school? (Are there levels or degrees of bullying?)
10. Do you think something could be done to prevent or reduce incidents or bullying? (Can you provide some?)
To elaborate on the answers, the following probes were applied:
* How did it come about?
* When did it occur?
* Where were you at that specific time?
* Who else took part?
* What was your role in that case?
* Can you elaborate?
* What do you mean by that?