One of the global problems in our schools today is bullying. It has negative impacts on the right of students to study in a safe and conducive environment without fear. The consequences of bullying, either direct or indirect on the victims is always enormous hence, the reason for this peace.
Behaviours such as taunting, hitting, stealing, threatening initiated by one of more students against a victim(s) can be classified as direct “bullying” while act, causing a student to be socially isolated through intentional exclusion such as spreading rumor can be regarded as indirect bullying (Ahmad and Smith, 1994; Smith and Sharp, 1984).
According to ”Batsche & Knoff, 1994; Olweus, 1993”, the key component of bullying is that, physical or psychological intimidation occurs repeatedly over time to create an on-going pattern of harassment and abuse.
Studies have shown that boys engage more in bullying behavior and are victims of bullies than girls. Direct bullying seems to increase through the elementary years, peak in the middle school/junior high school years and decline during the high school years. However, while direct physical assault seems to decrease with age, verbal abuse appears to remain constant.
Students who engage in bullying behaviors feel that they are powerful and fully in control, derive pleasure from inflicting pain on others, seem to have little empathy for their victims, and often defend their actions by saying that their victims provoked them to act the way they do.
Studies have equally shown that bullies often come from homes where physical punishment is used, where the children are taught to strike back physically as a way to handle problems, and where parental care is lacking.
Students who regularly display bullying behaviors are generally defiant or oppositional toward adults, anti- social, and apt to break school rules. In contrast to prevailing myths, bullies appear to have little anxiety and to possess strong self-esteem.
There is little evidence to support the contention that they victimize others because they feel bad about themselves.
In the other way round, students who are victims of bullying are typically anxious, insecure, cautious, and suffer from low self-esteem, rarely defend themselves or retaliating when confronted by students who bully them. They often lack social skills and friends and they are socially isolated.Victims tend to be close to their parents and may have parents who can be described as over-protective.
The major defining physical characteristic of victims is that they tend to be physically weaker than their peers–other physical characteristics such as weight, dress, or wearing eyeglasses do not appear to be significant factors that can be correlated with victimization.
Some of the consequences of bullying are; depression, low self-esteem, it can dovetail into criminality and can create fear in the mind of victims as who regard school environment as unsafe. These problems if not checked can be carried into adulthood.
Most times, parents are often unaware of the bullying problem and talk about it with their children only to a limited extent. Some teachers too talk less about it or never talk at all to their classes about bullying while other view it as a harmless right of passage that is best ignored unless verbal and psychological intimidation crosses the line into assault or theft.
Considering the enormity of the problems of bullying, effective interventions must involve the entire school community instead of focusing on the perpetrators and victims alone.
Smith and Sharp (1994) emphasize the need to develop whole-school bullying policies, implement curricular measures, improve the school environment and empower students through conflict resolution, peer counseling and assertiveness training.
I will conclude by saying that bullying is a serious global problem that can dramatically affect the ability of students to progress or succeed academically and socially.
My contribution or solution to this threat in our school system is that, a comprehensive intervention plan that would involve all the students, parents, and school staff is required to ensure that all the environment for the students are fully secured and safe for learning to take place.
Compiled by: Joy Nwateh-Leonard