The Scope and Impact of Bullying
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 another, teasing, namecalling, excluding from a group, or sending mean notes or e-mails. Often, children are bullied not just once or twice but over and over (Olweus, 1993; Roland, 1989; Smith & Sharp, 1994).
Verbal bullying is the most common type of bullying experienced by both boys and girls. Boys are more likely to be physically bullied by their peers (Olweus, 1993; Nansel et al., 2001); girls are more likely to report being targets of rumorspreading and sexual comments (Nansel et al., 2001). Girls are also more likely than boys to bully each other using social exclusion (Olweus, 2002).
How common is bullying?
Approximately 30 percent of all children and youth in grades 6 through 10 have been bullied or have bullied other children "sometimes" or more often within a semester, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Nansel et al., 2001).
Effects of bullying
Bullying can have serious effects on children who are bullied. These children are more likely than their peers to be depressed, lonely, and anxious; have low self-esteem; feel unwell; have more migraine headaches; and think about suicide (see Limber, 2002, for summary).
Children who bully
Children who bully tend to have average or above average self-esteem. Other characteristics may include:
- Impulsive, hot-headed personalities;
- Lack of empathy;
- Difficulty conforming to rules; and
- Positive attitudes toward violence (Olweus, 1993).
Children who bully are more likely than their peers to
- Get into frequent fights,
- Be injured in a fight,
- Vandalize property,
- Steal property,
- Drink alcohol,
- Be truant from school,
- Drop out of school, and
- Carry a weapon, (Nansel et al., 2001, 2003; Olweus, 1993).
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