Bullying is defined as one or more students seeking to have power over another student through the use of ongoing verbal, physical, or emotional harassment, intimidation, or isolation. A bully intends to hurt, threaten, or frighten his or her victim. Bullying may involve direct (physical or verbal) or indirect (psychological) attacks on a student. Direct bullying may involve hitting, name-calling, tripping, or taking or destroying a student's belongings. Indirect forms of bullying may involve spreading rumors or gossip about a student in order to isolate the victim from his or her peer group.
Bullying has become a widespread topic of conversation in and out of schools. Although some people still have the impression that bullying is just "kids being kids" or a rite of passage, many educators are not taking the subject lightly. Technology has increased the forms of bullying. Today bullying behavior can be observed in person or over the Internet. For example, a bully can spread rumors about another student by way of e-mails, instant messaging, or even blogs. Cell phones provide another common resource for bullies.
Common Causes and Antecedents of Bullying Behavior
Bullies come in all shapes and sizes and genders. Some bullies in schools are popular and some are disliked. However, bullies typically
- have average or above-average self-esteem,
- find satisfaction from causing harm to others,
- seek attention or acceptance from peers,
- seek to make themselves look tough and in charge,
- have little empathy toward their victims or others,
- seek to dominate other people or situations, and
- are described as hot-tempered and impulsive.
Reports of bullying behavior are highest among middle school students. Bullies are usually very self-centered in that they are concerned with only their own needs and pleasures. They frequently do not accept responsibility for their behavior or the consequences of their bullying (Coloroso, 2003).
Bullying may be common among students who come from abusive homes or where physical punishment is frequently employed. Students frequently model behavior observed within their home environment, including abusive behavior exhibited by parents to each other or toward others.
Bullies frequently plan out their attacks. They often choose isolated locations or playgrounds, hallways, restrooms, or school buses where there may be limited adults supervision of their behavior.
Victims of bullying are frequently considered passive or submissive around peers. They may be highly cautious and sensitive at a young age, and have difficulty asserting themselves with peers.
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