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School Violence: Bullying

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Bullying is considered to be an aggressive pursuit of one person or a certain group of people. Experts regard insults, threats, physical aggression, constant negative evaluation of the victim and its activities, refusal to trust the manifestations of bullying. The word bullying (from bully - snapper, rapist) denotes intimidation, physical or emotional terror that seeks to cause fear in another and, thereby, subjugate him/ her. In the past, bullying was just a trivial notion; thus, during the last 20 years, it turned into international socio-psychological and educational term; there arose a set of psychological, social and educational problems.

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Bullying is a kind of violence and, in its turn, may also be expressed in different ways, i.e. has its types (Dupper 8-9). As it was pointed out, bullying takes place mostly in organized groups, highlighting the basic social organization where it can theoretically occur. Next, the main types of bullying are identified. These are:

  • Bullying at school;
  • Bullying in the workplace;
  • Bullying in the army;
  • Cyberbullying (violence in the information space) (Dupper 10).

Certainly, the manifestations of bullying can be observed in other more or less organized groups.

School violence is a kind of violence, in which the force application occurs between children, teachers towards pupils or the students towards the teacher; the last case takes place extremely rarely. School violence is subdivided into emotional and physical. Emotional abuse causes the victims emotional stress, humiliates him/ her and lowers his/ her self-esteem. There are the next types of emotional abuse:

Taunts, assigning nicknames, endless criticism, biased grades, ridicules, humiliation in front of other children, etc.;

Rejection, isolation, refusal to communicate with the victim; for example, children reject playing with a victim, do not invite him/ her to birthday parties, etc.).

Under physical violence, the use of physical force against the student is assumed; it is potentially resulting in severe physical injury. Physical abuse includes beatings, striking, slapping, damage and tearing of stuff, etc. Usually, physical and emotional violence go together. Ridicule and bullying can last for a long time, causing the victims traumatic experiences. Any child can become a victim of school bullying, but usually classmates choose someone who is weaker or somehow different from others. The most common victims of school violence are children who have:

  • Physical disabilities; usually, children who wear glasses, have hearing loss or with cerebral palsy, that is, children who cannot provide adequate resistance and protect themselves are subjected to bullying;
  • Special behavior; e.g. withdrawn children or children with impulsive behavior;
  • Features of appearance; everything that distinguishes a childs appearance from the general mass may be subject to ridicule: red hair, freckles, protruding ears, crooked legs, special shape of the head, body weight, etc.;
  • Poor social skills; children who have not developed a psychological defense against verbal and physical abuse because of lack of experience, communication and self-expression, accept the role of victim more easily, resign themselves to the situation as inevitable and often find justification for the rapist;
  • Fear of school; it occurs more often in those who go to school with negative social expectations. Sometimes this fear is induced by parents who have had problems at school age;
  • Lack of experience in the team communication; home nursed children not attending childrens group may not have the necessary skills to cope with problems in communication;
  • Diseases; there are many disorders that cause ridicule and bullying peers: epilepsy, tics, stuttering, enuresis, encopresis, speech disorders, etc.;

Low intellect and learning difficulties; poor grades create low self-esteem, which, in its turn, from one side, can help to foster the role of victim and from another - create violent behavior as a compensation option, i.e. a child with low intellect and learning difficulties can be both a victim of school violence and rapist (Jenson et al. 361-62).

Bullying is mostly latent process for others; however, children being subjected to harassment receive psychological trauma of varying severity, which leads to severe consequences, including suicide. It does not matter whether there was a physical or psychological bullying. Preventing school violence is the most important task of the state and, in particular, the teacher, as cruelty to a child inevitably leads to negative consequences. Unfortunately, the violence turned into that element of human relations, which, despite worldwide condemnation, is difficult to eradicate. It can be found everywhere: in the relationship between individuals and groups, as well as in families, social groups and society. It can appear in the form of direct physical aggression or take the less obvious, but no less dangerous forms of psychological violence. There is a close relationship between school violence and violence in society; therefore, it is not surprising that there are different forms of violence in the school walls.

It is obvious that putting the violence under the ban is essential, and the acts of violence covered by criminal law or under the disciplinary provisions should be getting across to the attention of law or disciplinary authorities; as a result, appropriate sanctions should be given. However, the application of penalties is an extreme measure, but not the solution. For example, the case Morrow v. Balaski regarding school bullying lead to the long legal battle between school and students, but did not solve the problem (Graves 1010-1012). It is necessary to provide the preventive work and efforts to support the victims. One cannot ignore the fact that children, who commit acts of violence, are likely to be the victims of the same act of violence themselves. In addition, it is necessary to ensure maximum transparency, while respecting human dignity and privacy of victims. Taking into account the complexity of relationships in modern society and the multiplicity of factors that can cause aggressive behavior, in order to successfully combat violence in schools, it is necessary to take steps at different levels and to involve all concerned parties, in particular, family members, teachers and students.

For decades, the media resources spread content full of violence in various forms; all the while, there is a debate about impact of this information on people. With the advent of new types of interactive online media tools, it became apparent that the potential psychological impact is even higher, and this issue needs further study. On the other hand, since children spend more time as users of media resources, informal educational work through these means can have a positive effect and this issue also should be taken into account with more careful consideration.

There are some measures that can be done for prevention of bullying and for the support of the victim (Dupper 74):

Strict security measures should be taken for extinction of the smuggling of weapons and drugs to school and for the prevention of crime in the school;

Teaching methods should help to address the causes that lead to the violence and be directed to stop the isolation or alienation of individual students; with this end in view, schools need to provide specific support for students experiencing learning difficulties and physical, social or otherwise difficulties; schools should weaken the competition in the classrooms, develop the teamwork, cooperation and tolerance, as well as provide opportunities to relieve physical and mental stress nonviolently through sporting events, music and art classes for students;

The school staff should incorporate special teachers working on a confidential basis and having the necessary training in order to assist students who face violence, and those who have committed acts of violence at school or outside of school; in addition, the students, their parents and teachers should be able to turn to a specialist for the settlement of disputes and conflict situations;

One should create a special group of experts with appropriate knowledge and experience at school districts to provide advice to schools, confronted with certain difficulties;

Schools should develop practical projects and social events, such as forums, roundtables, open days, devoted to the problem of violence in schools, in which teachers, students and parents would participate; special attention should be given to approval of not-sensational approaches to the problems of school violence and social violence in everyday life (including domestic violence, group and crime one) in media resources, such as print media, music, television, cinema, the Internet, mobile phones, etc.;

Schools should organize voluntary programs involving parents in order to help them to fulfill their parental responsibilities, as well as to ensure the full recognition and respect of their children rights.

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Usually, school bullying turns childs brain; this may cause certain complexes for the whole life. To conclude, the main steps for bullying abolishment should be noted once more. First, it is necessary to create the atmosphere of the complete rejection of bullying along with the realization problem of school violence in society. Then, the school administration, teachers and parents have to learn to see the symptoms of violence and quickly take appropriate countermeasures. Each school must have thought out warning policy against violence, offering children the opportunity to confidentially prefer a complaint. Important aspect of the fight against violence in schools is an explanatory work among children and the creation of self-help groups.

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