Bullying: An Age-old Problem That Needs New Solutions
Bullying has been around for as long as anyone can remember. Indeed, bullying is a common theme in stories about childhood and adolescence, from 19th century authors like Charles Dickens in his classic novels, Oliver Twist (1) and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (2), to Eleanor Estes 1944 book The Hundred Dresses (3), and more recently Nick Hornby’s 2002 novel, About a Boy (4). It is only in recent years, however, that bullying has begun to receive serious research attention within the scientific community, with the first systematic studies on bullying emerging in the 1970s by Norwegian researcher, Dan Olweus (e.g., (5)). Today, bullying is recognized as a worldwide issue for children and youth around the globe (e.g., see (6, 7)), and research on the topic increasing exponentially.
Media attention to the tragic deaths of youth who were victims of bullying has raised public awareness in countries around the world (e.g. (8)), and our rapidly growing capacity for global communication has given rise to an unprecedented international exchange of information, as well as cross-national studies of the issue (e.g. (9)). Given such worldwide collaboration and attention, our understanding of the complexity and significance of the problem of school bullying has increased dramatically over the past two decades. Although questions still outnumber answers, we are beginning to unravel the many facets of bullying and victimization that our children are facing. With this knowledge, we are also beginning to find effective ways to reduce bullying. However, we still have much work to do to translate research knowledge into effective practice.
In this special edition of Education.com, we have invited established research scholars from around the world to provide summaries of their research on this topic in hopes of providing readers with insight into our current understanding of this problem and what can be done about it. As reflected in the articles included in this special issue, research has shown that bullying is a common but very complicated problem that affects all of our children, if not directly as bullies and/or victims, indirectly as witnesses to interpersonal violence. Given the complexity of the issue, the solutions are not simple ones, at least not as simple as we’d hoped.
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