Bullying in Childhood

According to the American Psychological Association, 90% of 4th graders through 8th graders report being bullied. Bullying is a serious matter. It not only results in physical pain, but emotional pain as well. Many victims of childhood bullying become violent or socially withdrawn later in their lives.

Definition of bullying

Bullying is an aggressive behavior intended to cause distress or harm, which occurs again and again over time in a relationship characterized by an imbalance of strength or power. Bullying can be related to antagonistic acts committed against ethnic and racial minorities, people from the LGBT community, and those with disabilities.

Types of bullying

Bullying can be categorized as either direct bullying or indirect bullying. Direct bullying takes the form of physical aggression like poking and shoving, slapping, throwing things, punching and kicking, choking, stabbing, beating, scratching, pulling hair, scraping, biting, and pinching. On the other hand, in indirect bullying or social aggression, the bullies threaten their victims into social isolation.

Characteristics of bullies

In general, bullies have dominant personality, have difficulty obeying rules, and view violence positively. They are also impulsive, easily frustrated, and tend to have bullies as friends. Bullies are also often physically stronger than their victims. School jocks and cheerleaders are the stereotypes of bullies.

Characteristics of the victims

Victims of bullying are often sensitive, cautious, socially isolated, and insecure. Another characteristic of victims is that they cannot assert themselves among their peers. The bullied children are often physically weaker than their bullies. Geeks and nerds, children from a cultural minority, and disabled children are often the targets of bullying.

Causes of the aggressive and violent behavior

Aggressive and violent behavior in children may be caused by lack of parental involvement and supervision, lack of love and attention, and very harsh corporal discipline. Numerous studies also suggest a relationship between child maltreatment and bullying behavior.

Effects of bullying

Bullying has short- and long-term effects on both bullies and victims. Bullies tend to exhibit types of antisocial behavior like shoplifting, vandalism, fighting, skipping school, and drugs and alcohol abuse. Victims, on the other hand, often develop low self-esteem and suffer from anxiety, loneliness, insecurity, and humiliation. Research also shows that children who are persistently victimized by bullies are at risk of developing stress related illness that can lead to suicide.

Prevention and intervention

A number of prevention strategies have been developed to address the problems brought about by bullying. Effective strategies include having a regular open dialogue regarding bullying and its effects via classroom discussions, parent-teacher meetings, role plays, and writing workshops. The prevention of bullying behavior must involve parents, school administrators, teachers, and health care professionals.