Bullying has been around for many years. According to the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, bullying means to treat another person abusively either in the form of actions or words. Not only has this form of mistreatment been around for many years, but it is also one of major discussion in our society and in our schools. Much of the research we have found deals with the victims of bullying; however, this paper will shed a little light on the perpetrators and explain how easy it is to decrease the amount of bullying in our society.
Reijntjes, Vermande, Olthof, Goossens, Van de Schoot, Aleva, and Van der Meulen (2013) state that the purpose of their research was to identify the costs and benefits of bullying during children’s last few years of elementary school. For this correlational study, there were 394 children from 12 separate elementary schools. 53% of these children were girls. Throughout the stages of the research, the children were in the 4th through 6th grades. According to Reijntjes et al. (2013), “five distinct forms of bullying were assessed, including physical (e.g. pushing), property attacks (e.g., taking away personal property), verbal (e.g., scolding), direct relational (e.g. excluding someone), and indirect relational (e.g. gossiping)” (n.p.). These forms were assessed by questionnaires given to the children. Popularity and social acceptance can be seen as the independent variables in this case whereas the dependent variable is bullying. The most important findings for this study include the following:
Bullying and internalizing symptoms decreased from T1 to T2, whereas self-perceived social competence increased between T1 and T2. From T2 to T3, internalizing symptoms showed a modest decrease, while self-perceived social competence ratings increased (Reijntjes et al., 2013, n.p.).
What this means is that, in the beginning stages of the study, bullying and negative feelings decreased and continued to do so throughout the other stages of the study. However, self-perceived social competence (understanding their own social roles) tended to increase as they got older. “Some studies have found that bullying increases with age and peaks in early-to-middle adolescence. In contrast, large-scale surveys of the prevalence of bullying have revealed a decrease from childhood through adolescence” (Reijntjes et al., 2013, n.p.). Finally, the biggest limitation was that this study was predominantly Caucasian pre-adolescents though there were many others as well.
Pryce and Frederickson (2011) state that the purpose of their research was to “investigate the launch of a commitment-focused anti-bullying initiative, the Anti-Bullying Pledge Scheme (ABPS)” in order to address specific research questions (p. 186). There were 338 individuals in this study, 178 males and 160 females between the ages of 8 and 11 years old. Teachers that worked directly with these students also participated in the study. “Qualitative data were collected through a focus group of six children in each school” through questionnaires and focus-group activities (Pryce and Frederickson, p. 188). Pryce and Frederickson (2011) state:
Variables selected for investigation were derived from the theory of planned behavior (TPB). The TPB proposes that human behavior is controlled by three types of belief, behavioral beliefs (beliefs about the likely consequence of the behavior), normative beliefs (beliefs about the normative expectations of others, and control beliefs (beliefs about presence of factors that can facilitate, or impede, the performance of the behavior) (p. 184).
In this particular study, the independent variable is the classroom climate where the dependent variables include class cohesiveness, friction, satisfaction, competition, and difficulty. The results of this study were just as expected. “As hypothesized, decreases in bullying and victimization were associated with positive changes in sense of school belonging and classroom climate” (Pryce and Frederickson, 2011, p. 196). Teachers that are involved in the positive classroom climate of their students have more students state that they are bullied less. There were a few limitations to the study including the exclusivity of the data as it only focused on direct bullying, all the schools were volunteers and not randomly assigned, and the sample size was very small. The findings within this study show that the benefits of bullying for the perpetrators can be very limited if the teachers do their jobs.
In conclusion, through these studies, we see that bullying can be very beneficial for the perpetrators because they feel powerful by behaving in such negative manners. However, we also see that this can be stopped with the teacher’s ability to make the classroom climate positive without bullies attempting to sabotage other children’s social self and well-being. These studies have taught me a little more about how bullying starts as well as how it continues. It helps me understand how I can put a stop to it myself when needed. This will help me for many years to come.
Albert, R., Vermande, M., Olthof, T., Goossens, F. A., Van De Schoot, R., Aleva, L., & Van Der Meulen, M. (2013). Costs and benefits of bullying in the context of the peer group: A three way longitudinal analysis. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, doi: 10.1007/s10802-013-9759-3
Pryce, S., & Frederickson, N. (2011). Bullying behavior, intentions and classroom ecology. Learning Environment Research, 16, 183-199. doi: 10.1007/s10984-013-9137-7