Bullying Among Children and Youth
What is bullying?
Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying can take many forms, such as hitting, kicking, threatening others, teasing, name-calling, excluding from a group, or sending mean notes or e-mails. A child who is being bullied has a hard time defending himself or herself. Often, children are bullied not just once or twice but over and over (Olweus, 1993; Roland, 1989; Smith & Sharp, 1994).
How much of a problem is bullying?
Unfortunately, bullying is very common during the elementary and middle school years. In one study of fourth through sixth graders, 25 percent of students admitted to bullying another student several times or more often during the school term (Melton et al., 1998). Another study found that 80 percent of middle school students reported engaging in some form of bullying during the past 30 days, with 15 percent doing so frequently (Bosworth et al., 1999). In a national study of more than 15,000 students in grades 6 through 10, 17 percent reported having been bullied “sometimes” or more often during the school term, and 19 percent reported bullying others “sometimes” or more often (Nansel et al., 2001).
Isn’t bullying just part of growing up?
Perhaps this attitude is why bullying is still common in American schools. There is a lot of research that shows that being a victim of a bully can affect students’ self-esteem and how they approach school (Juvonen & Graham, 2001). Students who are often bullied by other students may have serious levels of depression and anxiety, and they are more likely than other students to think about suicide (Austin & Joseph, 1996; Grills & Ollendick, 2002).
Victims of bullying also are more likely than other students to report that they do not want to go to school because of fear of being bullied (Slee, 1995). Some children who are bullied decide, in turn, to bully others. For all of these reasons, it is important that schools address the bullying problem in their school.
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