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An Examination of Bullying, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Introduction

Every day somewhere in the United States a schoolchild is being bullied. The newspapers in every major city always present stores of incidences where bullying had taken place. Bullying takes place when students congregate, sometimes on the school bus, sometimes in the classroom or on school grounds. Students may be picked-on by bullies because of racial or skin-tone differences, because of socioeconomic backgrounds, because of religious differences, or because some children may be special needs students and appear outwardly different from other students who attend the same school. With the development of digital mediums, bullying can now also be identified as cyber bullying, sexting, and in real time as face-to-face bullying, and sometimes sexual harassment.

Most people think that bullies come from among the student body. However, a newspaper recently reported that a teacher was suspended for bullying statements against the lesbian and gay community (Smith). A student recorded the lecture in which the teacher said, Gays should be allowed to join the military. Put them on the front lines and pull back the rest of the troops! According to the story the school board took his lecture as a different form of bullying, but giving no consideration between bullying methods, suspended and later fired the teacher.

A recent article in a regional newspaper spoke about other kinds of bullying. In one instance a father boarded a school bus when his daughter reported to him she was being bullied. The father did not assault any child but he was quite verbal and finally, arrested by local authorities and charged with bullying children. In a second incident a female student in a high school was cornered by bullies. Unknown to them, she had taken judo and jujitsu. They weren’t going to bully her! The problem is the school board charged her with bullying and suspended her.

Some parents of yesteryear used to advise their offspring to walk away from bullying situations. Many people have heard the old adages, “Sticks and stones”. But bullying in any form can leave severe social and emotional damages. In a few cases personal injury may be involved.

Research Hypothesis

Although most adults and school administrators discourage bullying, vicious acts still occur to unwary students.  Students don’t always report bullying and administrators need to recognize these problems before lasting damage is done.

Research Methods

Qualitative research produces emerging ideas. The researcher needs to focus on both products and outcomes of the search for data. Strauss and Corbin suggested that qualitative research was best used to identify areas about which little was known. Merriam suggested that the researcher needed to find common beliefs or common characteristics among the participants; this ensured better coding of the data received. According to Merriam, “A qualitative case study is an intensive holistic description and analysis of a single instance, phenomenon, or social unit” (p.21).Yin identified the four part of the research project as:

1.Design the case study.

  1. Conduct it.
  2. Analyze the data collected.
  3. Arrive at conclusions, recommendations, and implications ( p. 85).

Lincoln and Guba observed that different responses from participants may be common when working in different settings. To avoid this problem research is best gathered by evaluating a single incident or a sequential series of incidences in a single setting. In this project the researcher will be conducting his research in a single high school located near the researcher’s place of residence.  The participants in the study will ideally be administrators who have volunteered information. Everything will be kept anonymous. The name of the school, the names of the administrators, and the names of those students or adults involved in any bullying incident will not be identified in this research project.

Patton identified the researcher’s role as that of an ethnography, or, ‘portrait of a people’ (p.28).  Moll and Greenberg wrote that ethnography identified human responses close-up. Patton gave several interviewing suggestions:

  1. Always focus research on purpose. Purpose should guide the interviewing process.
  2. Respondents need to be given an atmosphere of comfort where they express themselves without fear of recrimination by superior members of their place of employment.
  3. Select a solid interview process.
  4. Have an understanding of the different kinds of data that can be collected during the interview process: opinions, feelings, knowledge, sensory data, and background information.
  5. Always ask truly open-ended questions requiring long, interactive responses. Stay away from questions and that can be answer as yes of no.
  6. After the gathered information has been coded and analyzed new questions may rise to the surface. Don’t be afraid of subsequent interviews with respondents previously interviewed.
  7. Create good rapport and demonstrate a personal interest in what is being said.
  8. Learn what each interviewee is sensitive to and observe how he/she responds to different questions.
  9. Record the interviews. Don’t use your memory alone. In the extensive interview process the researcher will not be able to transpose into coded notes exactly what he or she heard if the interviews are tape recorded.
  10. Always maintain control of the interview process (pp. 85-99).

Data Collection Method

The researcher’s main interest is to do a qualitative study using a single high school (grades 9-12). The researcher plans on creating a questionnaire and interviewing school administrators.

Miles and Huberman wrote extensively about mixed methods. They observed that although they supported qualitative research, in some studies it may be necessary to use mixed methods: qualitative and quantitative. Usually qualitative research does not involve dependent and independent variables. Thus, like Miles and Huberman suggested, data will be collected using qualitative interviewing and analyzed using inferential statistics (frequency and standard deviations).

Questionnaire

  1. As a senior school administrator, please share with me incidences of bullying you have witnessed in the last (or more, if necessary) school year.
  2. Did you find out about the bullying incident(s) from other school personnel, from parents, or from the affected student him/herself?
  3. What did you do and who did you involve (school faculty, parents, faculty, students, police) when you became aware of the incidence(s) going on?
  4. Although suspension of the bully suspends him or her from the school, it does not help to curtail the situation, especially now that cyber bullying occurs. Are there certain agencies and counseling arrangements that will help bullies to cease the bad behavior? Likewise, are the same or different agencies available for the individual who was bullied?
  5. Most school boards have a bullying policy in place, but these policies are usually given to school faculty members. Do you have a written policy directed at your students? What kind of training do you use with the student body to prevent bullying?
  6. When a student has been bullied, do you notice personal changes in tardiness, absenteeism, lower grades, etc.? What can you do to return these alternative behaviors back to positivity?

Dependent and Independent Variables

Independent variables hold a constant; they don’t vary. Dependent variables can get larger or smaller based upon the study being undertaken. Merriam, and in a different study, Patton suggested using only qualitative research. Huberman and Miles suggested that mixed methods: Finding sums to topics represented in the questions and expressing them in quantitative format is better than just a qualitative project. Coding and summing the questions by respondents’ answers will help me to create descriptive statistics (tables and graphs) and inferential measures (frequency and standard deviation).

The independent variable is simply the number of students in the school and if any (the basis of this research) were bullied. The first dependent variables include measureable behavior changes from the bullying (tardiness, absenteeism, lower grades). The second dependent variable is to determine the amount of training given to each faculty member to enabling them to recognize bullying and to enforce immediate disciplinary actions. The third dependent variable will measure the actions of the bully or bullies after they have been identified, practiced controls given by the school board, counseling, or law enforcement. A fourth dependent variable (based on the third dependent variable) might be recidivism. How many learned their lesson and how many have repeated bullying incidences?

Works Cited

Huberman, A., and Miles, A. (2002). The Qualitative Researcher’s Companion: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Johnson, M. (2012, June 25). Parent Boards School Bus to Yell at Students Picking on His Daughter. Orlando FL: Orlando Sentinel, Sec. 1A.

Lincoln, Y., & Guba, E. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Merriam, S. (2009). Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Moll, L., & Greenberg, J. (1990). Creating Zones of Possibilities: Combining Social Contexts for Instruction. In L. Moll (Ed.). Vygotsky and Education, pp. 319-348. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Patton, M. (2001). Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Smith, P. (2012, July 8). Teacher Slanders Gays in Front of His Students. Orlando, FL: Orlando Sentinel, Sec. 1A.

Strauss, A., &Corbin, J. (2007). Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Yin, R. (2011). Qualitative Research from Start to Finish. New York, NY: Guilford Pr

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